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Agilent supports customer laboratories at every step: Sandeep Tandon

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Sandeep Tandon, Sales Director, Services and Support Division & LSS India, Strategic Customer Programme, Agilent Technologies gives details of how the Agilent CrossLab Group (ACG) is enabling smart solutions to create value, by helping laboratories improve efficiency, optimise operations, increase instrument uptime, develop user skills and more, in an interaction with Viveka Roychowdhury

In September 2014, Agilent Technologies created a new services and consumables organisation, the Agilent CrossLab Group. The Services business at that time accounted for over 20 per cent of Agilent’s revenues. What is the revenue share in 2020?

The Agilent CrossLab (ACG) is an integration of Agilent’s analytical aftermarket solutions which includes services, consumables and lab-wide resource management to help laboratories improve efficiency, optimise operations, increase instrument uptime,  develop user skills and more.

The revenue share of the Agilent CrossLab Group, as a percentage of the reported overall Agilent revenue for the third quarter ended July 31, 2020, has gone up to ~37 per cent in Q3 of FY 2020 and our FY 2020 is not finished yet.

The services business for the life sciences’ analytical and scientific instrument industry traditionally covered instrument repair and consumables. But today it is more about providing laboratory productivity solutions, helping customers maximise the economics of lab operations, workflows, lab analytics, coping with evolving compliance norms, etc. What are the solutions, services and new technologies offered by the Agilent CrossLab Group to life sciences customers?

Over the last five years, lab data has gained much-deserved importance and focus in the field of analytical sciences. For example, results from our Pharma Lab Leaders Survey revealed that 43 per cent of pharma lab leaders are concerned about data integrity, and furthermore, 83 per cent find that their current workflow requires optimisation.  The conversion of laboratory operation data into relevant insights and successful business outcomes using advanced analytics is the new normal leading to data-driven decision making.

Agilent helps laboratories with a wide array of specialisation, gain actionable insights to improve performance, safety, compliance, and efficiency of labs. ‘From insight to outcome’ is not just our motto, it’s our mission. The ACG supports operational efficiency through planned maintenance, multi-vendor service and lab management support. At Agilent, we have brought these new-age technologies to life with our industry-leading tools, such as:

Smart Alerts: It monitors instrument health and provides email-based alerts, notifying you when to consider replacing key consumables, when to perform preventive maintenance, and when an instrument stops running anywhere in your lab. Digital lab-wide connectivity lets you remotely monitor all of your instruments, access performance data and even troubleshoot.

Automated Qualification Process:  With Agilent’s automated compliance engine (ACE) you can safely move your lab from Excel- or paper-based protocols, towards coordinated analytical instrument qualification (AIQ) processes for chromatography, spectroscopy, and other technologies.

Computerised System Validation (CSV) Services: Validation is a lifecycle process that includes new system commissioning, change control for system upgrades/relocations, and decommissioning systems for archival. Agilent supports customer laboratories at every step with these CSV services.

The life sciences industry is looking for workflow solutions which can help reduce analysis time and increase efficiency of the labs. Agilent supports customer laboratories at every step by improving lab productivity, instrument performance, analytical accuracy, as well as providing tips for improving user skills and the overall lab environment.

What are the new asks from life sciences labs across the world? 

Life sciences companies are striving for the simplification of processes, ease of doing business and workflow lean management. Their increasing focus is in channelising efforts and resources on their core competencies and therefore, life sciences labs are looking for trusted and experienced partners who can help them improve their workflows continuously for efficiency gains in daily operations.

Agilent is considered as a trusted partner by providing diverse and end-to-end differentiated service offerings like multivendor instruments services (MVIS), relocation services, lab resource management (LRM) and method and application services. These services help to reduce complexity, improve scalability and increase efficiency across analytical labs.

Global biopharma companies and labs are now investing in training, upskilling and certifying their workforce to not just keep them motivated but to also harness the full potential of their employees and resources at their availability. The Agilent University is recognised by the life science community as the premier learning service that improves the analytical scientific expertise of the end-user and supports ongoing learning for career advancement. It offers an individual and enterprise-wide subscription model for learning within a classroom environment or in a virtual/ e-learning mode. It also offers several free tutorials and self-help materials to enhance one’s knowledge on specific topics.

How has COVID-19 impacted the Agilent CrossLab Group’s operations, given that many pharma and biotech companies are currently in search of a vaccine?  

COVID-19 is an unprecedented pandemic which caught the world napping in its preparedness to handle something of this nature and scale both economically and socially. The forced lockdown measures, which were imposed to reduce the spread of the virus, has completely transformed the ways in which businesses are operating across different industries.

Remote working and social distancing norms, due to COVID 19, are changing the way lab operations are currently run. Technology is the critical driver in the new scenario. It is resulting in greater adaptation and acceptance of digital technologies like virtual asset monitoring, e-renewals, live chats with our representatives, virtual collaboration and online ordering.

The pandemic induced crisis has enabled us to look at things with a relatively new perspective, and new ways of engaging, both personally and professionally.

  • Webchat: Our valued stakeholders can now chat with us live on our website and share their requirements so that we can respond efficiently in support of their needs. This platform is available for all businesses at Agilent.
  • Order Centre: Customers can now go to our website and directly place their orders online. This has been a new addition as part of our wider digital strategy.
  • iLab: Agilent iLab operations software is a modular, web-based, asset management software tool designed to support operations for centralised labs and shared resource facilities. Its functionality includes calendars for reserving specific resources, access control for sensitive or validated equipment, time and cost-tracking against projects, and managing on-hand inventory in the labs and in central stockrooms.

Since April 2020, Agilent has hosted a series of webinars to cover the fundamentals of preparing and protecting instruments before shutting down, and later, the steps needed to get them up and running again, with minimal loss of performance. These are maintenance fundamentals.

The scientific and medical research communities stand united in their steadfast efforts to find not just a vaccine, but other effective therapeutics such as antiviral drugs, peptide inhibitors, nucleoside analogues, and monoclonal antibodies. Agilent is extremely honoured to collaborate with these communities and support their research efforts amidst the pandemic.

Working from Home (WFH) arrangements in most companies is resulting in individuals and companies focusing more on upskilling, cross-skilling and the productive use of time through e-learnings. With Agilent’s digital initiatives, we are conducting virtual interactive, live web broadcasts (labcast) events, application webinars, etc. to help and support our customers.

WFH arrangements have also led to the industry focusing more on security and compliance assurances. The Agilent ACE can help ensure that distractions for the laboratories staff don’t lead to vulnerabilities in their compliance program. The Agilent ACE enables a harmonised, paperless, and lab-wide compliance qualification process, facilitating remote data integrity and compliance management. It can be installed within your IT network for significant data integrity advantages. Agilent’s CrossLab service experts can assist with instrument qualifications and computer system validations, freeing up your staff for mission-critical work.

In summary, as we continue to battle the pandemic, it is important for the life sciences and healthcare industry to start looking forward at what trends will arise, inoculating labs against future disruptions and their impact. This year has thrown the world a curveball, and it’s causing many in management positions to reassess their ability to respond to unforeseen changes. The current pandemic is still full of uncertainty. Now is the time to strengthen the life sciences sector to meet the demands of the future; this will require a multi-dimensional approach. Analytical and laboratory instruments companies will have to rise to the challenge and assist life sciences and healthcare companies in their pursuit of saving this world from the pandemic, this requires companies to accelerate digital transformation and continue to drive innovation for a better tomorrow.

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