Analyzers,vitriolic analyzer service, FACSVantage Service

Bill Eades eadesb at
Sat Dec 1 10:40:36 EST 2007

First I want to say that my comments regarding hardware service has no	
bearing on my feeling for the high value of Mario's scientific input  
to the board.  Not to say that the posters have been myopic, but most  
of the views I have heard are locally supported, and really don't show	
a global view of what is happening.  Even though I have been on the  
"other side of the counter" for seven years, I look deeply into these  
matters based on my past.

Service support has many dialects.  Most stellar service comes from  
individuals who have true customer empathy and lobby to the company  
they work for on behalf of their customers and/or simply defy obvious  
corporate policy that leads to customer dissatisfaction.  I can cite  
jewels of service engineers from any of the cytometry vendors  
currently in the market, and they all tend to operate on this model.   
Their contribution to the companies have generally not been  
acknowledged where it came to their support evolving into new sales  
references or the fact that new product launches have typically been  
fixed in the field and not in the R&D labs.  Obversely, I can also  
cite a trend of newly hired engineers who merely take the company line	
to have service as a profit center instead of a PR source for customer	
retention, and these newer hires are replacing the largest age based  
attrition I have seen in flow service since I have been involved in  
cytometry.  To add, there is also a gradient of service management  
from empathy to purist capitalism, and the trend is for newer managers	
to train their newer engineers towards profit driven service.

There has been an unseen trend in the companies we know well in  
cytometry.  The large corporate structures of B-D and Dako have taken  
flow component management to the higher levels in Franklin Lakes and  
Carpinteria (now Fullerton with B-C taking over).  The gap has	
increased between the customer and the policy makers in flow service  
and R&D.  For an example, if we haven't been satisfied with Steve  
Ziganti's response to our Vantage plight, be careful if you wish for a	
replacement, for he/she most likely will be displaced much further  
from any intimacy to the flow community that we have enjoyed with  
Steve and will be based or have origin in Franklin Lakes, NJ.  The  
future decisions regarding service will be strictly accounting based  
and with fewer chances of reprieve.   B-D cannot be our only target of	
scrutiny here, because Dako has recently made some horrendous choices  
away from their previous admirable service stance, mostly involving  
compiling parts for service to much larger assemblies, essentially  
making us buy 10 items in a kit when we only need 1.

As to the lack of parts for service and this being a justification for	
obsoleting product lines, how many of you have had leftover parts in  
your labs after a service call?  Coulter was intense about retrieving  
exchanged parts for service and whole instruments for trade in.  When  
I was involved with them, Coulter also maintained their ability to  
troubleshoot to component level rather than to merely swap boards or  
large assemblies.  The only reason that FACScan/Calibur platform is  
not obsolete in the same fashion of Vantage is that B-D was also  
aggressive about buying back trade ins for purpose of reselling  
refurbished units, this being much easier based on the smaller form  
factor compared to Vantage sorters.

Parts or reasonable replacements are often as easy to find as looking  
them up in cross reference libraries.  Electronic "through hole"  
components in many cases can be adapted to "surface mount".   
Maintaining machined assemblies are as easy as retrieving what is  
still out in the field.  If you think this is tough, consider what  
Sexing Technologies has in the way of old MoFlo parts (Mike has the  
same pathology as I for hoarding).  The ability to make this happen is	
simply based on commitment.  There are growing "third party" service  
entities waiting to take the ball, and if B-D or B-C doesn't follow  
through, smaller, hungry companies will.

B-D is and for the last 22 years has been the most profitable company  
in flow cytometry and a great stock to buy.  It has also been a secure	
source of employment for flow savvy researchers.  Their strengths have	
been intuitive marketing and tactical launch timing.  An impressive  
company, for sure.  For these same reasons we are complaining.	There  
is a much used term in business admin, "what the market will bear".  I	
am sure it has happened before, but our outcry is dictating better  
what we can bear, compared to B-D's marketing research.  Hopefully our	
outcry will also be heard by Beckman Coulter where it regards  
sustaining the original MoFlo line.

As to the several new players in flow, the integrity and scientific  
intelligence will soon be more discernable.  Isn't competition	

William C. Eades Jr.
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Manager, High Speed Cell Sorter Core Laboratory
Siteman Cancer Center
Washington University School of Medicine
Campus Box 8007
660 South Euclid
Saint Louis, MO  63110
Lab phone: (314) 362-9364
Email: eadesb at

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