Modest Optimism

By Pamela Ahlberg

“The year 2011 was tumultuous for the laboratory industry. In comparison, the outlook for 2012 looks only slightly positive. Laboratory decision makers generally expect their funding conditions either to remain the same or to minimally improve.” So says Frost & Sullivan’s Jonathan Witonsky in this month’s cover story, which presents the results of our Fourth Annual Investment Confidence survey. Click here for the complete picture and to find out how your view of current business conditions compares with those of your peers.

Whether your lab is flush with cash or watching its pennies, most likely you or someone from your organization will be attending this month’s 52nd annual Pittsburgh Conference in Orlando, Florida (March 11 – 15). As has been our tradition for the past four years, Lab Manager's March issue showcases the instruments, software and consumables that will be on display at this year’s event. Click here for a sneak peek of what you’ll be seeing in person in a few weeks.

If you’re thinking about new instruments for your lab, you should also be considering the training and maintenance required for that equipment. For help in that effort, click here for this month’s Technology & Operations feature, “Planned Downtime.” Here, author Sean Jordan explains the theory behind a key performance indicator known as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), which “captures relative equipment effectiveness over a set time period by measuring unplanned downtime, resulting defects/errors, and equipment operating speed.” According to Jordan, “If you can improve OEE, you can increase overall lab efficiency and reduce equipment repair costs.”

Another concern regarding new laboratory equipment, especially that which is highly automated, is power outages. If that is something your lab is challenged by, turn to this month’s Lab Automation article “We Need Backup!” In this piece, author Raymond Hecker explains the advantages of instrumentation power protection systems (IPPS) which, when coupled with an emergency generator, can correct a generator’s power “to provide pristine power delivery to your automated equipment.”

Unrelated to equipment, but very important to all managers, is leadership style and effectiveness. In this month’s Lab Management article, author Ron Pickett channels Steve Jobs as an illustration of one who inspired his team to go “beyond what anyone thought possible” and to do “some great work, really great work that will go down in history.” Pickett provides practical analytical tools to help managers find things to do that will make a difference in their labs. “If you aren’t making a difference in your laboratory’s climate, its future prospects, and the development of your staff, what are you being paid for? Maintaining the status quo isn’t valued and probably isn’t possible for more than a short time,” says Pickett.

The message of improving your management style and technique is picked up again in Alan Edwards’ “Science Matters” column, in which he says, “Personal management style can also dictate which employees—even the contract ones—are willing to stick around for the long haul as well as for future projects.” Take a look to make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve openness and creativity in your lab.

And if you’re heading to Pittcon this month, please stop by Lab Manager's booth 1529 and say hello.

I hope to see you there.

Categories: Editor's Buzz

Published In

Is the Rollercoaster Ride Over? Magazine Issue Cover
Is the Rollercoaster Ride Over?

Published: March 1, 2012

Cover Story

Is the Roller Coaster Ride Over?

The laboratory industry enjoyed several years of robust growth from the late 1990s until 2003. Record research and development (R&D) investments by the biopharmaceutical industry, in combination with the doubling of the U.S. National Institutes budget, allowed for continual double-digit growth rates.