Problem: Whether a small enterprise or large institution, many organizations have and will be faced with the challenge of closing a lab. No matter what the size or scope of the closure, the person tasked with closing the facility faces a daunting task as millions of dollars in real estate, laboratory equipment and research devices will need to be redeployed, sold, or disposed of. With that comes teams to manage, logistics to sort out and inventory to be accounted for, all the while adhering to a budget, timeline, and environmental and safety standards.
A lab closure is usually a race to the finish, but a short, unrealistic timeline combined with lack of operational forethought can have disastrous results. So how do you maximize the value of your assets while minimizing potential risks?
Solution: As soon as a lab closing is confirmed it’s imperative that you take some first steps that will serve as the basis for the project including: formation of a closing team, development of a plan for redeployment or sale of items, establishment of a budget and timeline, and complete an inventory of the facility.
The team you enlist should consist of staff most familiar with the facility; this will most likely include security, environmental safety, facilities and lab maintenance managers, and the accounting team. In order to develop a closure plan, the team should understand the current situation in the lab including the biosafety level and whether the equipment has completed the decontamination process. Some basic questions the team should be prepared to answer include:
- Is the facility being shut down completely?
- What in-house resources do we have available to assist in the closure?
- When must the lab be vacated?
- Can certain assets be redeployed to other labs?
- Which assets will be sold?
If you are planning to redeploy or sell a large number of assets, you may want to hire external resources to help you to determine asset value, increase the number of potential buyers, oversee the previewing and marketing, and assist with redeployment.
A closure plan is the catalyst for determining a budget for the marketing, redeployment and removal of assets, as well as a timeline. Note: a short timeline is the number one mistake a company can make when shutting down a facility; plan on a minimum of three to six months and don’t leave equipment and logistics until the last minute.
Regardless of whether you are selling, redeploying or disposing of assets, you’ll need to inventory everything and determine the best channel for them. For those assets you plan to sell, focus on the highest-value items as they will allow you the greatest return on investment. Other tips for greater ROI include: scheduling a preview period so potential buyers can come inspect the equipment, taking quality images to provide to potential buyers through online channels, and attracting buyers both domestically and internationally. Keep in mind that biotech and pharmaceutical equipment is in high demand across the globe, therefore it is advisable to have international support for a global base of buyers interested in the equipment. You’ll want to be aware of which items have characteristics that make them subject to export compliance.
Above all, give yourself time: time to get a plan in place, to establish a budget, to hire external resources, to inventory assets and to find buyers for your equipment in order to maximize the value.
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