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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Laboratory supply chain constraints are ongoing

Researchers and research cores have been experiencing constraints for important supplies: long lead times, out-of-stock items, increased prices, and reduced or increased volume requirements. Purchasing Services is acutely aware of these issues and has explored options for assisting researchers. General laboratory products that are currently constrained include:
  • pipet tips
  • centrifuge tubes
  • serological pipets
  • media bottles
  • cryo vials
  • cell culture plastics
  • plastic tubing
  • petri dishes

Some reagents and chemicals may not be available in all sizes due to constraints on certain size bottles or vials. Purchasing Services encourages labs and cores to anticipate and mitigate the supply constraints with the following guidance:

  • anticipate that supply chain issues will continue through Jan 2022 and potentially beyond
  • government vaccine-related orders (for the US or intended for other countries) continue to have priority
  • constraints may increase in September as research, education and business plan to ramp back to normal levels
  • order early to allow for longer lead times and follow up on deliveries
  • consider alternative products and vendors – many vendors have tools to look up alternative products
  • understand that brand-name supplies are in shortest supply
  • place duplicate orders with different vendors – note you may or may not be able to cancel one order after the other is fulfilled

Some of the UW contract vendors that supply many of the constrained items are listed below. Corning and other branded products are generally available from the lab supply distribution vendors. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Eppendorf, Gilson, and Rainin may be able to direct researchers to third parties who can provide comparable items. Other vendors, like Fisher Scientific, may be able to assist.

  • Chemglass Life Sciences (Contract # 20-5562)
  • Dot Scientific (Contract # 20-5303)
  • Eppendorf (Contract # 20-5700)
  • Fisher Scientific (Contract # 20-5303)
  • Gilson Inc (Contract # 20-5562)
  • Mettler-Toledo Rainin Llc (Contract # 20-5562)
  • Midsci (Midwest Scientific) (Contract # 20-5562)
  • Neta Scientific (Contract # 20-5303)
  • Sarstedt Inc (Contract # 20-5562)
  • Thomas Scientific (Contract # 17-5274)
  • USA Scientific Inc. (Contract # 20-5562)
  • VWR Scientific (Contract # 20-5303)

It has been suggested that bulk purchasing across campus or units might mitigate some constraints, as has been done for Covid-related PPE, but this is likely not a productive avenue for research materials.  Few lab supplies are used in common across units – while a general category of supply may be widely ordered, the specific brand, size, model, and packaging is not common.  Based on data available to Purchasing Services and discussions with major distributors and research labs, we are unable to identify any candidates for bulk purchase. The Campus Research Cores office polled cores for common constraints and also heard that long lead times occur in materials very specific to a small set of instruments and processes.

Researchers and core staff are encouraged to contact vendors directly and to work with their departmental and college procurement specialists. For general questions about the campus response to supply constraints, please contact Isabelle Girard <>