Research Core Facilities and Equipment Management Programs

The Research Core Facilities Program (RCFP) is a cost-effective solution to providing state-of-the-art technologies for the shared benefit of the campus.

In 2011, the Research Core Committee provided recommendations for the future success of research core facilities and resources, including cost analyses, financial modeling options and guidelines for research cores administration. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the Research Core Facilities Program was established to address the need for administrative oversight, strategic management, best practices and tools for the management of core facilities.

The RCFP has already achieved increased revenue and administrative savings for the select participating core facilities, and is now seeking to expand its services to include more campus resources. As part of this expansion, a software for researchers to request services will be implemented across the core facilities. It will help optimize operations and improve financial management practices, including billing processes for the use of core facilities and management of service and repairs.

Using equipment data to leverage existing resources and manage maintenance needs

In the coming year, the Office of Research is working to establish a campus-wide equipment management program. A key element of the program will be a new equipment database, which will leverage the Campus Asset Management System (CAMS) and enable members of the campus community to search for items located in the core facilities and other research units on campus. Each item description would indicate whether the item is available for use, creating opportunities to share existing resources on campus.  

In addition to making equipment easier to find across campus, the database will track service history, making predictions about future service needs much easier. This information enables us to evaluate equipment maintenance plans and select the most cost effective option.

Evaluating equipment maintenance options

There are generally two options for equipment maintenance plans: purchasing a service contract or self-insuring.

Service contracts are generally 10 percent of the cost of the equipment and they cover maintenance and repairs. This annual cost is the same amount regardless of whether the equipment requires any major repairs at the time. Often this cost is subsidized by campus. 

With an equipment management database, we can look at the maintenance history and predict future needs. If equipment is unlikely to need major repairs, then self-insuring can be a more cost effective option. 

Cost savings through self-insurance at the Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging

The Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging could pay approximately $900K in service contracts annually on $10 million of equipment. Instead, self-insurance reduces that cost to $180K.

When self-insuring, UC Davis takes on the cost of maintenance and repairs without paying into a service contract. In many cases, the maintenance and repairs can be performed by UC Davis employees. In the core facilities, the equipment is maintained by staff with expert knowledge of the research and equipment needs.  

By collecting and evaluating data in an equipment maintenance database, we can find opportunities to leverage existing equipment on campus and can make better decisions about maintenance plans.


More information about the equipment management program implementation will be available soon.


For more information on institutional core facilities: Institutional core facilities: prerequisite for breakthroughs in the life sciences