A Care and Maintenance Guide for Lab Equipment
Lab equipment is expensive and often fragile. For commercial laboratories and higher education research facilities alike, it is essential to keep your equipment functioning optimally for as long as possible. Well cared for equipment provides more reliable and consistent data and has a positive impact on your lab’s productivity.
Research laboratory equipment can be challenging to maintain without the proper training. Hiring qualified professionals to keep your equipment working correctly is an integral part of your facility’s quality assurance.
However, for everyday care and maintenance of lab equipment and tools, there are a few things you can do yourself to keep your lab running smoothly. What follows are general care and maintenance considerations for lab equipment.
Equipment Maintenance Documentation
The detailed collection of all information relating to each piece of equipment in your lab is vitally important for laboratory maintenance and management. It is a centralized archive that you can refer to in order to understand your equipment’s history. It is also critical to log your equipment maintenance so that you can keep a regular schedule. For each piece of lab equipment, the maintenance log should include:
- Equipment name
- Model number
- Purchase date and location
- Warranty information
- Location in the lab
- Date of repair work
- Type of repairs performed
- Parts replaced
- Any tests or adjustments performed
Keep your equipment maintenance documentation as digital file with appropriate backup protocols. Your organization may allow cloud-based storage as part of your disaster recovery plan. The comprehensive maintenance document allows you to collect data such as repair costs, material durability, and equipment efficiency to help you make better decisions about the brand and type of equipment you need for your lab. Frequent wear and tear on equipment may also indicate a need for staff retraining.
Keeping your lab equipment clean means that it will always be ready for use when you need it, and ensures that no impurities contaminate samples or skew data. Lab equipment should be cleaned after every use. When cleaning equipment, ensure that:
- Cleaning reagents are specifically formulated for use in a laboratory.
- The manufacturer’s instructions are followed carefully as some pieces of equipment may require special solvents, cleaning tools, or drying procedures.
- Machines are disassembled when necessary for in-depth cleaning of hard-to-reach parts.
To ensure that each piece of lab equipment is cleaned regularly and with the correct procedure, lab managers should develop a detailed cleaning schedule with instructions. Place the schedule in a central location accessible to staff or a visible position next to the corresponding piece of equipment.
Calibration is an important part of laboratory equipment maintenance to ensure reliable data. When calibrating your equipment you are measuring your readings against standard units of measurement to verify the accuracy and make adjustments where necessary. Calibrate your equipment regularly because measurement biases can develop over time and generate invalid data. Perform equipment calibration when:
- The manufacturer’s recommended time elapses
- The equipment is dropped, hit, or sustains any type of force
- You notice abnormal sounds, vibrations, or patterns during use
- Measurements are significantly outside the normal range
- The data to be measured is of high importance relating to your experiment
In most cases, you will need a calibration certificate provided by an independent specialist who should be involved in every step of the calibration process.
Lab equipment is expensive, and for higher education institutions with budget restrictions, it is vital to make your lab equipment last as long as possible. Repairs and refurbishments prolong the life of your equipment, saving money for your facility. To determine whether your equipment needs repairs or refurbishment, consider the following:
- Can repairs be made by trained staff or do they require a professional?
- Is the machine that needs repairs a source of danger to lab staff?
- Does the equipment simply need refurbishing with polishing, lubrication, and small parts replacement?
Unfortunately, in some cases, equipment that cannot be repaired or refurbished must be replaced. We suggest that you buy new equipment from a reputable supplier with excellent technical support. The better the quality of your equipment, the easier it will be to maintain.
Laboratory management is a complicated job. Between budgeting, organization, storage, and meetings with various departments, cleaning and maintaining lab equipment are often overlooked.
Streamline your equipment care and maintenance plan with the Remi Equipment Management and Maintenance Program (EMMP). Consolidating your lab equipment maintenance through Remi means that you will receive outstanding customer support, fast response times and access to a national network of over 5,000 qualified technicians.
To find out more about Remi’s full-service maintenance solution, contact us via our online contact form or request a quote by calling (866)-296-4847 and let us help you manage a successful lab.