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Old 12-08-2011, 12:29 PM   #1
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Default HiSeq 2000: Service contract vs. pay by the hour

Quick background: I run a relatively new core lab that has a brand new HiSeq 2000. This is our first Illumina product and we don't have any experience with reliability.

I'm trying to figure out if an Illumina service contract is a worthwhile investment compared with paying by the hour as needed. The contract costs are pretty high compared with my experience with other similarly priced equipment of other types, to the point where it seems that we'd have to have regular and rather catastrophic failures to justify the cost. I understand that failure during a run can be a rather expensive loss, but I don't see that a service contract necessarily helps avoid that problem (except for the PM, which isn't even included in the "Standard" contract).

I tried searching the archives here and couldn't find anything really on topic. In lieu of an opinion, I'd also be happy to have recommendations about labs that I might contact to ask the question.

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:00 PM   #2
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How much is the hourly charge vs the contract? They seem to be here a lot to fix things, so it's probably one of the service contracts we have that is actually worth the money. If not on a contract, and a run fails due to something wrong with the instrument (which will happen, probably a lot too), would they replace the reagents for free? Or is that only something that happens when on a contract?
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:21 PM   #3
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Thanks for the input. The HiSeq doesn't seem overly complex mechanically compared to many instruments I'm more familiar with, which is what made me question how often it might break down. On the other hand the fluidics make me think of something built in a garage and that doesn't really fill me with confidence.

I don't have the hourly rate from Illumina yet but I'm in the process of finding out. I suppose it's possible that they're $1000/hr with a 10 hour travel minimum, making any thought of going without a contract silly.

Our FAS and salesperson have told me on several occasions that they are willing to replace reagents for a failed run when the evidence shows it was their fault. I never considered that the replacement might be linked to having a service contract, but I'll be sure to clarify that point now that you've raised it.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:26 PM   #4
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The contract is probably worth it. The hourly rate for service is $300/hr with a 2-hour minimum. Add to that the $750-$1,500 travel costs that are added as a flat rate. However, those costs are not typically a problem. The parts replacement is the real issue and unfortunately, Illumina does not list the prices on their service reports so its hard to tell where the break-even point it. I do know laser replacements run something in the range of $15,000.

We had 90 service visits last year over 11 instruments. We track them pretty closely and the average cost per visit, not including parts, was almost $3,000.

If you are going to run the instrument at capacity, you'll find the contract worth it. If you are going to run the instrument once a month or less, you may not find it a good value.

Since in the instrument is brand new, you have a year of warranty and Illlumina will usually give a very good discount to buy the second year of warranty up front. I'd closely track the service calls over the first year and then use that data to make a decision as to what version of the contract to get and if the contract is worth it.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:47 AM   #5
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I would strongly recommend a service contract, in my experience HiSeqs can be less reliable advertised...labour alone is billed at $300 per hour with a 2 hour minimum.

Factoring in travel costs and parts costs would make it very expensive if something were to go wrong.

Illumina engineers are frequently visiting our lab.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:54 AM   #6
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Another thing to factor is the service contract can guarantee how quickly an engineer will arrive so if you go hourly you will lose by having the instrument down longer.
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:46 PM   #7
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csquared: Very helpful -- thanks very much.

You're averaging around 8 visits / $25K per instrument per year for non-parts costs. That's a little less than half of what they quoted me for a one year standard contract. Since you seem mostly satisfied with the contracts, I'm betting they're charging you considerably less than they quoted me -- not surprising if you have 11 instruments.

Eight visits a year is more than I would have guessed and probably tilts me towards the contract. Not knowing the parts cost is a bit of a PITA, but I bet they'd add up quickly if we were paying a la carte.

I'm expecting that we'll start out running at between 30-50% capacity and probably reach capacity in 12 months. The initial usage might be higher because the college is offering seed money to get investigators started.
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