Running a Shop Tools and Equipment Shop Floor

The Return: Spectro Scientific's MicroLab 40

Order Reprints

STATS: FlexTune Technologies Location: Bloomington, Ind. Website: Cost: 26.99 per sample to rent the system Uses: Fluid analysis tests Training Required: In-house training proviced by Spectro Scientific 

The Reviewer

Michael Phillips, owner of FlexTune Technologies in Bloomington, Ind., has been in the industry for over 40 years and a business owner for 20 years but is still searching for answers to cut down on costs and increase shop profits. Phillips seeks to stay ahead of the curve in order to save customers money on unnecessary repairs.


The Shop

FlexTune is located in a college town that sees many students graduating and moving on from Indiana University Bloomington and the Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Due to the demographics of the area, Phillips wanted to offer more affordable options to test a car’s engine and transmission without making customers fully commit to thousands of dollars in repairs.


How It Works

In total, Spectro Scientific’s MicroLab 40, which is a step up from the MicroLab 30 by testing hydraulic fluids, takes only 8 minutes to test vehicle fluids, says Phillips. It enables repair shops to evaluate the condition of an engine and transmission at a much lower cost than a teardown.

First, Phillips rents the MicroLab 40 from Spectro Scientific. Renting the machine is about $27 per sample, while outright purchasing the machine could cost around $100,000. Spectro Scientific sent the machine and trained Phillips on how to use it in only two days, Phillips says.

The machine walks the user through each step of testing a vehicle’s oil, transmission fluid or hydraulic fluids with a minor maintenance step to flush out the machine after the last sample of the day, to prevent cross contamination.

The machine prints out a colored report of the fluid’s chemical make-up and Phillips is then able to give customers a detailed answer to their questions of engine failure without sending the samples to outside labs.


The Review

Phillips bought this product over others on the market due to the affordable rental program and quick response from Spectro Scientific.

Phillips feels so comfortable enough using the machine after only 90 days that he wishes he had another one for other members of his team to use.

A customer brought in an old Jeep that had “run hot,” Phillips says. He offered to run a fluid analysis for around $90 and the report came back 8 minutes later saying there was coolant in the engine oil. Phillips predicted repairs to the car would equal about $2,500, and since the car was only worth around $5,000 with the owners planning to retire it in a few months anyway, Phillips was able to save his customer thousands in unnecessary repairs.

Despite only asking around 75 percent of customers whether they would like to have their vehicles’ fluids tested, Philips says the machine pays for itself.


The Return

Since the fluid analysis tests are usually conducted after vehicles come in for other service jobs, Phillips says he will make an annual net profit of around $75,000 and a gross annual profit around $107,000 for the machine samples, on top of the cost of the services he already charges. So far, he’s made around $6,000 with roughly 100 samples, while rental for the machine only costs little less than $30 per sample.

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