If you work in a lab, you know it’s crucial to keep your equipment clean and maintained. Often, failure to maintain facilities and equipment can derail an entire scientific study. Also, your lab results may be completely invalid in the event of contamination. Keeping your lab and equipment clean isn’t the most fascinating part of working in a laboratory. However, it’s just as important as the work and the experiments themselves.
Below are some of the most important tips on maintaining your lab’s physical and digital equipment, to make sure your experiments are accurate and reliable.
One of the easiest ways to keep your lab equipment maintained is to keep everything clean and sanitary. Surprisingly, many labs overlook this important task. To keep your equipment and your lab in great shape, it is important to wipe down the exterior of all equipment each day. Also, do a thorough, detailed cleaning at least once a week.
Some types of equipment will need cleaning using a specific process. Be sure to consult each lab equipment’s manual to ensure they receive proper cleaning.
Another tip for maintaining equipment is to ensure they stay calibrated. Failure to do this regularly can corrupt your data and lead to inaccuracies in your experiments. Calibration can range from basic preventive maintenance to verification procedures.
When you keep up with the calibration of your equipment on a regular basis, you will hardly ever need more than quick preventive maintenance to get back up and running.
If any of your equipment is not working properly or providing accurate results during your experiments, it’s important to repair or replace it in a timely manner. You can salvage many types of lab equipment by replacing simple parts or repairing some components. The earlier you fix an issue, the less likely you’ll need to fully replace it.
For many labs, refurbishment is an ideal option for some pieces of equipment that aren’t running quite as smooth as they used to. The process will involve taking apart each piece and fully cleaning the components. Once they’re clean, you can re-lubricate them and put them back together.
During the process, you can identify any parts that are showing signs of wear and may need replacing before reassembling the equipment. When this process is done, some equipment will work just as good as when it was brand-new.
Maintaining electronic devices in the lab is similar to general lab equipment. The three biggest enemies of electronic devices are dust, heat and (ironically) electricity. Dust mostly collects in the computer cases. So, it’s a good idea to open the cases occasionally and clean them.
Heat can cause overheating and damage the electronics. Keep your places well ventilated and keep the electronics away from the heat source. Too much electricity can also kill your devices. The best way to prevent this is to use surge protectors on electricity sockets.
However, tablets and smartphones are much safer to use in the lab. They are mostly resistant to dust, water and electrical surges, since they are only plugged in while charging. Some tablets are extremely robust and even resistant to some tough liquids, like ethanol, acetone or acids.
Maintaining Lab Software
Many computers connected to instruments have disabled updates and antivirus software to improve performance and prevent software errors that updates can introduce. While this is necessary, it’s also a bad idea. Therefore, when buying new laboratory instruments, make sure they don’t break with system updates and ask for additional details about this from manufacturers. Computers without critical system updates and antivirus software are a big security threat to your network and organization. Therefore, you need to proceed carefully.
If you need to disable updates and antivirus software, try to at least schedule an antivirus scan on the computer weekly. You can also prevent spreading viruses by:
- Limiting internet access
- Enabling a safe data transfer, such as uploading to a server through FTP or Dropbox
- Disable USB storage capabilities of the computer. This prevents using USB keys, which are the most common source of virus infections
- Limit access to approved users that are trained on how to safely use the equipment
In some cases, proper maintenance and refurbishment repairs will not be enough to get equipment working properly. In time, certain types of lab equipment will need decommissioning or replacing. When this happens, some labs might want to choose new equipment that’s less expensive than their previous model to save money.
Choosing new lab equipment should be done carefully. High-quality equipment, even when more expensive, is crucial for ensuring that it’s durable and will deliver accurate results. Higher-quality equipment is usually easier to find replacement parts for. Additionally, they’re easier to be refurbished and cleaned.
Tips for Lab Efficiency
There are three different variables that dictate how efficient laboratory experiments will be. These include the people working in the laboratory, the processes they all follow and the equipment they have available to use. Below are some tips for keeping your lab processes efficient.
Hire the Right Staff
Nothing is more important to efficiency in the laboratory than the people running the tests. It doesn’t matter what sector the lab is working in; the team needs to be strong and have all of the necessary skills and knowledge to achieve the lab’s objectives.
Within a lab environment, it is important that each person is accountable for areas in terms of organization and cleanliness. Doing this will ensure the whole environment stays working efficiently.
Pay Attention to New Products
Each year, new types of lab equipment pieces make their way into the marketplace. Keep an eye out for lab equipment that you can replace with more efficient and reliable qualities. Some manufacturers allow their customers to suggest modifications to make equipment more suited to your specific lab procedures.
Conclusion – SEPS
At SEPS, keeping labs functional, sanitary and productive is fundamental to our mission. Our many accreditations and affiliations are a testament to our commitment to quality and exceptional service. Our technicians can assess, diagnose and decontaminate or repair your equipment to guarantee your lab remains running smoothly and efficiently for as long as possible.