Agilent launches internet-based Intelligent Services

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Agilent Technologies announced at Pittcon 2006 last month a portfolio of internet-based services that promise to monitor its tools in the field.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Agilent Technologies announced at Pittcon 2006 last month a portfolio of internet-based services that promise to monitor its tools in the field and be able to provide a range of options for customers from automated diagnostics and consumables ordering to compliance services to help pharmaceutical companies ensure their tools are running to spec and meeting compliance regulations.
Dubbed "Intelligent Services", the program was rolled out initially only on the company's 1200 Series Rapid Resolution LC system. The intention is to include all Agilent instruments in the program within the next year and eventually to include major non-Agilent instruments in the program as well.
"This concept is well-tested in other industries, such as the medical service field and the telecommunications industry," says May Van, vice president and general manager laboratory service solutions for Agilent's life science and chemical analysis group. "But in order to make it work, you need an instrument that is designed with the capability to communicate or has the capability of being retrofitted and loaded with software to manage the communication."
For Agilent, the 1200 Series is just that instrument and it will serve as the proving ground for an anticipated company-wide roll out, one that Van says should make Agilent into a complete laboratory services provider.
At the heart of the program is a push to automate the flow of information from the lab to service providers at Agilent. A "push for service" button will automatically transmit via the Web the user's information and real time instrument and system data. The automated flow of information to the service provider should sharply reduce service time and downtime for an instrument.
Additionally, Agilent plans to include broader services that will include real-time collaboration, a service that allows Agilent to diagnose and solve problems based on customer-provided service guidelines. Agilent technicians will also be able to remotely control instruments to aid in troubleshooting and service.
While other major instrument companies have built remote intelligence into their tools, it is Agilent's aim to broaden the scope of how service is provided. "There are many aspects to what we can offer and what we will offer in the future," says Ken Suzuki, product manger for service at Agilent. "We intend to take this beyond repair and troubleshooting to include services that allow a lab manager to run their operations more effectively and efficiently."
These services would include automated ordering of consumables based on monitored use of instruments and proactive reminders when things such as lamps are nearing the end of their usable life.
The final stage of the Intelligent Services rollout could occur towards the end of next year, by which time Agilent hopes it can offers these same services for instruments from the other major players in the industry. Key to this expansion was the company's recent acquisition of software company SSI.
"SSI will make this a very powerful service, since it is based on an open platform that allows it to talk with other instruments," says Van. "This way, if customers are willing to buy a kit and install the software, we can provide the same level of service for their lab and their instruments even if they aren't from Agilent."

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