Agilent repair service contract

Discussions about GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-FTIR, and other "coupled" analytical techniques.

17 posts Page 1 of 2
Dear colleagues,

Is there anyone who has experiences with Agilent repair service contracts and their costs compared to repairs done without a contract? We do not have a service contract but repairs are becoming more frequent on our LC-MS/MS system (6490) and we were wondering whether a service contract may be less expensive. For example, we just had to pay ~ 7000 $ for the repair of the sheath gas heater assembly.
Does the price of a service contract depends on the number of LC-MS/MS systems?

Best wishes
Thea
Don't know about anyone else, but we have Agilent contracts on all our instruments.
yes, the more instruments, the more you pay.
It has been good for us as we got a new LC-QQQ ( either for no, or reduced cost--can't remember) as they could not fix it.
We also had an old 6890/5973 that they couldn't fix. They gave us a 7890/5977 system for 30% of list price.
We didn't have service contracts with Agilent or 3rd party for our Agilent GCs, HPLCs, and 3 GCMS but did use Agilent for yearly cGMP qualification on most of those. I was better at troubleshooting and repair on these than the typical lab chemist, so that saved us a fortune over the years.

Also remember that an Agilent service engineer has to repair stuff as Agilent intends. I remember once riveting a GC exhaust fan blade back on, and once drilling a small hole on a broken nub on a GC main board and using a bread tie through that to hold that long on-off "button" in place (so we didn't have to unplug to turn the GC off).

Like at home I use a $12 evaporative cooler pump in my vintage standalone ice machine instead of the $225 factory part. Just bugs me when I bought such ice machine used for $50, and then factory parts can run way more than that. Also stuff like the door latch are no longer available, so I made my own version from metal....
The cost/benefit equation for 3rd party versus Agilent will depend a lot on the quality of your local 3rd party engineers. The good side of a manufacturer's contract is that they're obliged to fix it, whatever, and they know the instrument inside out. They have access to all spares, and won't try to charge you for unnecessary bits.

The worst-case scenario for a 3rd party company is that they're fine changing the pump seals on an LC system, or whatever, but the moment the MS goes wrong, they haven't really got much clue (but don't want to admit it). They start ordering bits at random and replacing things, and convince you (and sometimes, I suspect, themselves) that every part they have replaced was in fact definitely part of the problem - had to be replaced! - but somehow there's still something else causing it not to work... so another bit needs to be ordered.

One of the problems for 3rd party companies is keeping up-to-date. They are proud of hiring ex-Agilent engineers, but the engineer's knowledge is fossilised at the moment he/she leaves Agilent, and they may not be so capable with the latest model.

On the good side of 3rd party companies, older Agilent equipment might drop off Agilent's service radar, but because it's good stuff made to high quality, and there is loads around, the 3rd-party market will continue to source spares and keep this older stuff going perfectly well for years (decades!).

I tend to favour service contracts with the manufacturer for newer, more complex systems, but am happy for older, simpler systems to get done by 3rd parties (or even in-house). Service contracts are also more worthwhile on equipment that's vital; if every day's outage is a disaster, it's worth the cost.

You can also sometimes save yourself a bit by pooling as much equipment into one contract as possible.
As above we have not carried contracts on the Agilent LC, GC or GCMS systems we have mainly since over the past 25 years we have only had a few repairs to do on them. We do all the normal maintenance ourselves. For the cost of a couple turbo molecular vacuum pumps that went out over that time period we could not have paid the service contract for a year on all of the equipment.

Our ICP/MS units are a whole different thing though. We keep contracts on those simply because the acid environment of the metals area keeps eating away at parts and the cost to repair on our own is greater than the cost of a service contract.

When you consider that a turbo pump or analyzer on a GC/MS costs less than $10,000 and have failure rates of about one every ten years, you would have to be able to get a service contract for $1000 per year or less or you would lose money in the long run, provided you can do most small repairs yourself. On the other hand, if everyone in the lab are used to having the dealership do their oil changes and air filter changes on their vehicles, then maybe a service contract is the best thing to have.
The past is there to guide us into the future, not to dwell in.
... also it's a question of risk-management and how your organisation responds to risks/costs. If you can deal with a situation where an instrument costs nothing for 9 years and $10,000 in the tenth, then don't have the contract; just pay to fix the turbo when it goes. If you're in an environment where there is going to be a terrible crisis in the 10th year, there can be a strong case for paying for the contract every year because it's a known, predictable, non-threatening cost, even if, in the long-run, it's wasteful.
Strange world.
A benefit of a service contract that covers large breakdowns (some of them don't) vs saving the money for the first five years to spend after that when things start to break, is that your boss can't spend your carefully accumulated maintenance pot on other stuff.
Peter Apps
There are plenty of vendors willing to service 6890/5973 systems. I imagine Agilent just wanted to move you to the latest platform.

I do most of my own maintenance to save on paying for a service contract. But it helps to have a relationship with a vendor that can do the things you cannot. My lab has used Full Spectrum Analytics for used equipment upgrades and to help solve problems. We bought a 6890N/5973inert system from them back in 2004 and its been through a sideboard a couple detectors and has had the turbopump rebuilt twice. Later, we bought an Archon and Tekmar 3000 P&T. More recently, they sold me a new FID detector and rebuilt the EPC for another 6890 and gave me phone advice on how to upgrade the firmware and install a network card to get things up and running. They have been very good about letting me do the work of replacing sideboards, turbopumps, EPC's etc. And in turn, I use their service to get them rebuilt. We also had them rebuild 7673 autosampler trays. In short, I think its cheaper to send things out for repair if you have to rather than paying for a service agreement.
James_Ball wrote:
... you would have to be able to get a service contract for $1000 per year or less ...

Is it Agilent charge $1000 or less per instrument/year?
How much the contract real prices?
I know of one 7820/5975 that's under an Agilent contract.

It's the basic level contract and as I understand it covers a once-a-year check-up and avoids the cost of the service call itself(with a deep discount on parts and labor on the repair). The number I've heard tossed around is $7K.

It's not an instrument that's under my regular jurisdiction, but it blew a filament two weeks or so back. They got me to come in and show them how to switch to filament #2, but after doing that it won't tune(there's a bunch of noise running from about m/z 497 up to the big PFTBA peak at 502). The local engineer wants them to clean the source and fit a new filament before she will come and look at it. They're at a loss as to how to even start, so I'm going to go up and do it tomorrow(while I can do a 5975 in my sleep and in fact put theirs off until tomorrow because I wanted to do mine this afternoon-just finished it up and left it pumping down a few minutes ago). As best as I can tell, they would be charged to have the engineer clean the source even though it's under contract.

My department has way too many instruments to keep a contract on all of them. It's worth it for them to pay me(and another guy, who's a genius at stuff like component level repair but doesn't really know the chemistry or any of the other specifics about what's going on in the stuff) to take care of stuff and we only call in service engineers when it's beyond what either of us can take care of on our own. They also don't question me too much if I need an electron multiplier or a laser for an FTIR since they know me buying it and installing it is significantly cheaper than having someone else do it.
Consumer Products Guy wrote:
We didn't have service contracts with Agilent or 3rd party for our Agilent GCs, HPLCs, and 3 GCMS but did use Agilent for yearly cGMP qualification on most of those. I was better at troubleshooting and repair on these than the typical lab chemist, so that saved us a fortune over the years.

Also remember that an Agilent service engineer has to repair stuff as Agilent intends. I remember once riveting a GC exhaust fan blade back on, and once drilling a small hole on a broken nub on a GC main board and using a bread tie through that to hold that long on-off "button" in place (so we didn't have to unplug to turn the GC off).


I'm retired now; my most-recent pointy-haired boss loved service contracts, even got extended warranties on his vehicles (bought brand-new, of course), even though even Consumers Reports warns against those. But to cover all our stuff would be over $100K each year, and management nixed that.

We found Agilent GC, GCMS, and HPLC to be pretty reliable, and I could fix most stuff on those. But then pointy-haired boss started considering himself a cGMP expert, and wanted in writing from Agilent or 3rd party servicer what a user could do without wrecking the "validation". Pointy-haired boss got to the point that he felt that replacing a purge valve frit, an autosampler rotor seal, etc., would put us in cGMP/FDA hell !!
Consumer Products Guy wrote:
Consumer Products Guy wrote:
We didn't have service contracts with Agilent or 3rd party for our Agilent GCs, HPLCs, and 3 GCMS but did use Agilent for yearly cGMP qualification on most of those. I was better at troubleshooting and repair on these than the typical lab chemist, so that saved us a fortune over the years.

Also remember that an Agilent service engineer has to repair stuff as Agilent intends. I remember once riveting a GC exhaust fan blade back on, and once drilling a small hole on a broken nub on a GC main board and using a bread tie through that to hold that long on-off "button" in place (so we didn't have to unplug to turn the GC off).


I'm retired now; my most-recent pointy-haired boss loved service contracts, even got extended warranties on his vehicles (bought brand-new, of course), even though even Consumers Reports warns against those. But to cover all our stuff would be over $100K each year, and management nixed that.

We found Agilent GC, GCMS, and HPLC to be pretty reliable, and I could fix most stuff on those. But then pointy-haired boss started considering himself a cGMP expert, and wanted in writing from Agilent or 3rd party servicer what a user could do without wrecking the "validation". Pointy-haired boss got to the point that he felt that replacing a purge valve frit, an autosampler rotor seal, etc., would put us in cGMP/FDA hell !!


Just one of the reasons I discourage our bosses from getting into the cGMP/FDA testing. When Agilent quoted a price of $10K to come in and do qualification on an instrument that we had been using for environmental for years, that reinforced my point :)
The past is there to guide us into the future, not to dwell in.
Typically a service contract, one annual PM with unlimited visits and repairs costs around $5000 per year for one HPLC stack with one detector. It ends up being around 6-8% of the total purchase price new so for an LCMS it can get expensive. However, The contract price does not decrease in price as your system depreciates, in fact it likely creeps up slightly per year.
Some good posts above regarding risks of coverage or not.
3rd party service quotes will come in maybe 25% less to win the bid. But as lmh mentioned, their skills go stale after a couple years and they WILL have trouble getting rare OEM parts. Part availability and ability to bench exchange should be considered when choosing vendor coverage.

TIP: Got a problematic Agilent HPLC module? request an overnight bench exchange. If you have a contract its a great feature and you can get a replacement module overnighted before the FSE can even get onsite. Most common module replaced is the degasser especially the ones that start with serial number JP (Japan)
BostonFSE wrote:
TIP: Got a problematic Agilent HPLC module? request an overnight bench exchange. If you have a contract its a great feature and you can get a replacement module overnighted before the FSE can even get onsite. Most common module replaced is the degasser especially the ones that start with serial number JP (Japan)

I did the bench repair route a couple of times, worked out well.

Once I wanted to send a 6890GC control box in for repair to an Ebay guy, would've been under $1000, but my pointy-haired boss was too chicken to try. In that instance we ended buying a used control box from a 3rd party repair service which had a one-year guarantee.
Image
BostonFSE wrote:
Typically a service contract, one annual PM with unlimited visits and repairs costs around $5000 per year for one HPLC stack with one detector.

Is it labor only or the $5K include all parts cost replaced during repair or PM? Because just one UV lamp about $1,000. If chemists uses heavy mobile phase(salt, high pH, etc.) you have to replace some parts pretty often.
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