There is always fat that can be trimmed out of a budget. The real difficulty comes in discerning where that fat lies, and whether or not trimming it could harm the business later on. One place where there's usually a plethora of metaphorical lipids which can be curtailed from draining resources is in technology.
Sure, you don't need a computer to organize everything in a single location with a spreadsheet. You can take the numbers by hand and keep them in a folder. And you can go through thousands of sheets of paper every year, and steadily build a backlog of folders that eventually fill a filing cabinet, then a room full of filing cabinets, then a whole basement. Or, you could keep all that information on one laptop and a hard drive. Especially in scientific applications, technological innovation functions as a substantial resource saver.
A Surprisingly Lucrative Cost-saving Measure
Many don't consider the costs lab animal tags incur on a yearly basis. First the tags must be procured, and getting second-rate ones ensures the animals will gnaw them away and mess with your data; or at the very least require you to keep additional tags in case of such an emergency.
After procurement, applying those tags can be a real pain in the neck. Either you've got to put the animals in an unconscious state, which necessarily requires anesthesia, and that isn't cheap; or you've got to go after them with your hands and hope not to get bitten. Rodent teeth will go right through a rubber glove, so this certainly isn't a preferred method!
Additionally, you're going to need tags that are appropriate for different kinds of animals. You can't tag a bird with the ear-tag commonly clipped through a rodent's ear like some kind of scientific earring. Likewise, putting a bird tag on a rodent's foot is a surefire way to see that little critter chew it off and waste the tag.
A Surprising Solution
There's now a sort of “tattoo” option available wherein a hardened barcode is printed two-dimensionally on a rodent, or any lab animal's, ear (or wherever is most visible on them). These are called “mini-tags”, and they allow you to scan an animal to input its data into a given system.
Instead of opening the cage, reaching in, grabbing the animal, examining its tag, and writing it down, you can just walk by the row of cages with a scan gun and have the results instantaneously uploaded into your computer system. Additionally, application doesn't require anesthetization, and will work on multiple animals.
Crunching The Numbers
Say purchasing the old style of tags and applying them by hand averaged a minute per rodent. Say writing that information down during the conduction of a trial takes ten seconds per rodent. Say there are a hundred rodents. To tag them would require an hour and forty minutes, minimum. It would take you 16.6+ minutes to write down all their numbers by hand at ten seconds per rodent. That's 1:56:40 for one round of application and testing.
Now, imagine you've got to collect the tag information on rodents a minimum of ten times a month. That comes to 166.66 minutes a month, or 2:46:40. By the end of the year, your'e looking at 33:20:20 for one researcher. If you're working in a lab with ten other researchers who likewise must enumerate the rats ten times a month, you're looking at 333:20 lost every year.
If the time of your technicians is only worth $10, that's $3,333.30 you throw away every single year. All these numbers have been specifically underplayed to help you get an idea how much you're really losing on antiquated tagging techniques. Upgrading is a wise choice.