Since 1966, Nebraska's Bellevue University has pioneered the use of new technologies to bridge the gap between institutional life science research
and the expectations and needs of a modern economy. A recent multimillion- dollar investment in their College of Science and Technology gave Bellevue the opportunity to bring their life-science laboratories into the 21st century. This upgrade included a Student Research and Demonstration Lab, with all of the latest high-tech equipment, as well as a Molecular Biology lab, Chemistry lab, and Prep Lab to keep all the other labs running smoothly.
While the labs and equipment were state-of-the art, their process for ordering lab supplies and managing inventory were stuck in the past. Laboratory Lead Technician Johnny Farnen explains that the college was still using a combination of outdated Excel spreadsheets, a “wall of Post-It notes”, emails, and four cabinets of paperwork dating back 30 years.
“It was a total nightmare with the most archaic inventory ordering system imaginable,” laments Farnen. “Proper inventory hadn’t been done in close to a decade; there were chemicals that the University had purchased 50 years ago that were still unopened sitting in the labs. Purchase requests would just disappear. It was a process where sometimes eight different people throughout the supply chain would need to fill out the request, print it out, add it to a spreadsheet and forward to someone else. Ordering a kilogram of sodium chloride would take 90 days if it wasn’t lost in the chain.”
Farnen had to take it upon himself to run to hardware stores, grocery stores and industrial centers nearby to buy supplies like table salt and bleach in large quantities, spending 20 hours a week just to track down proper supplies. Far too often he was forced to consider shutting down labs and student research because they didn’t have the supplies they needed to conduct their experiments.
Things came to a head for Farnen two weeks before a new term was about to start. He had put in POs before Thanksgiving and still had not heard back from Accounts Payable. Unable to wait any longer, he was forced to walk around to stores with a broken leg in the middle of a Nebraska ice storm to find supplies for his students. There just had to be a better way.
He grabbed his tablet, Googled “lab management software”, and discovered Quartzy. He saw that it was free and quickly realized it was the solution to every problem he had around supply orders, inventory management, equipment maintenance and handling hazmat materials with “one form to rule them all.”
According to Farnen, once he started using Quartzy’s lab supply ordering and inventory management platform, he was able to get through what would have been a month’s worth of work in 8 hours. During one particular Nebraska storm, he sat inside and, on his tablet, did all of his inventory for 2017 and 2018 in just one sitting.
Quartzy has taken all of the guesswork out of my job, and we didn’t need to replace the purchasing system, so we could begin using it in the lab the day we discovered them.”
It’s hard for Farnen to believe they were doing business any other way. Orders are no longer getting lost or delayed, and they are saving paper as well as time. In addition, Quartzy continues to save them money through its Effortless Quotes feature which automatically tracks down the best price for lab supplies.
Farnen is also using Quartzy for safety and hazardous materials compliance and equipment maintenance. Because he can set up proactive reminders on Quartzy, Farnen can easily track remaining warranty on equipment and estimates that, in the first month, this feature saved his lab $10K.
In that same month, Farnen calculates he saved an additional $4,800 on consumable supplies; Quartzy was able to find better pricing on supplies for him and he could put in the orders to take advantage of that additional savings before market fluctuations caused supplier prices to rise.
The time savings for Bellevue’s College of Science and Technology have been impressive too. Because all of their authorization signatures are now digital, they don’t need to print off order forms, retype them and scan them back into emails. They have taken a 90-day turnaround
on getting orders approved and placed into a turnaround of just 7 days, and expect to bring
it down to same day once AP is onboarded. For Farnen, his own time savings has gone from spending 20 hours per week ordering supplies to just 2 hours a week using Quartzy.
“I don’t know why using Quartzy isn’t the standard yet across all university labs; honestly I think labs are crazy if they don’t use it. It has taken all of the guesswork out of my job, and we didn’t need to replace the purchasing system, so we could begin using it in the lab the day we discovered them. Within the first week of using it in our labs we were already saving both time and money. I’ve used federal government systems that are state-of-the-art for purchasing industrial supplies, and truthfully, Quartzy is better than those.”
Within the first week of using Quartzy in our labs we were
already saving both time and money.”
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