Make Expensive Lab Equipment Last Longer
Universities, hospitals, medical offices, & other laboratory facilities house expensive lab equipment for essential research and analysis. Research frequently hinges on the measurements and data given by these machines and maintaining that equipment is vital if the results of tests and experiments are to be reliable.
Equipment that breaks down can also be costly in terms of wasted time or samples if the broken machine isn’t discovered until the point when it is needed. At that point the facility may incur a significant time delay while waiting for their equipment to be recalibrated or parts replaced.
Efficient lab equipment is an essential part of accurate results and quick turnaround. In addition, many lab facilities have limited funding, which means that they have to make their expensive equipment last a long time. Luckily, there are several ways to maintain and protect laboratory equipment, lengthen its lifespan, and increase its resell value. First, we will look at some of the common causes of lab equipment
Why does lab Equipment break down?
While not all lab equipment is delicate, all of it is designed for a specific use. Misuse of lab equipment can come in numerous forms: testing materials it is not meant for, adjusting moving parts in ways they are not intended to move, or using the equipment in environments it can’t withstand.
Besides misuse by users, some equipment may be exposed to the general public, including children, who may interfere with the equipment or alter settings. This may be accidental or motivated by innocent curiosity, but regardless, presents a potential for the equipment to be damaged.
2. Accumulation of Dust or Dirt
Even if the equipment is kept indoors, not all lab environments are 100% clean or sterile. If your lab cuts materials, has poor ventilation, or frequently uses powders or other granular materials, floating particles may settle on your equipment. Over time, this can clog moving parts and cause wear or stickiness.
3. Regular Wear
All machines break down with use. Moving parts will rub against each other and cause wear. Softer parts like those made of rubber will break down. Unfortunately, it is the natural course for even the best-made machines to break down over time.
The following tips can help keep your machines in working order for as long as possible.
How to Keep Lab Equipment Functional
1. Read the Manual
Even if you read the manual when you first got the machine, it is worth going over it again. It’s easy to forget details after months and years, and let’s face it, equipment manuals aren’t exactly an interesting read to start with, but they are a roadmap to properly maintaining your machine.
Its worth reading the manuals for even the simplest of machines for a refresher on the proper use and care. Having the manual handy will also aid you in troubleshooting when something inevitably goes out of alignment or needs adjustment.
If your equipment has been around for a while and is a legacy of a different lab manager, you might not even have the manual. Even if you oversaw the purchase of the machinery yourself, its easy to lose or misplace manuals somewhere you expect to be able to find them later but can’t.
Most lab equipment manufacturers will be happy to offer you a new manual, though you may be able to find a digital version on the internet as well.
2. Conduct Training
To ensure the lab equipment is being used as intended, its worth training everyone who could potentially come into contact with the machine on proper use. More complex machines might require initial training for all users anyway, but that may have been more focused on use than the ongoing care of the machine.
Use your newfound expertise from your machine’s manual to remind all of the lab workers of the best practices regarding each machine. Consider making this a quarterly or bi-annual exercise.
If you have more intricate machines, it may be worth hiring someone from the manufacturer to provide more in-depth training. While this may feel like a wasteful expense, consider it an investment in the functional lifespan of your machine. Take comprehensive notes to serve as annual training materials. Official training can also help clear up any questions or disagreements on the care of the machine.
3. Clean Your Lab Equipment Regularly
Daily maintenance is one of the most effective ways to protect laboratory equipment from deteriorating over time. Wiping down equipment each day and a thorough cleaning weekly is enough to increase the lifespan of lab equipment.
If a machine is exposed to potentially hazardous materials, or powders or liquids that could clog moving parts, consider cleaning it after each use.
4. Regular Lab Equipment Repairs
Although sometimes a piece of lab equipment will need to be replaced, often it can be salvaged by simply replacing parts or having a professional repair the machine. For heavy equipment and machinery, this can be a great way to increase the lifespan for a lot less than having to replace the entire machine.
5. High-Quality Replacements
When it does come time to replace equipment, less expensive models can look very enticing. Unfortunately, the less expensive options often wear out more quickly and are more difficult to repair while the higher quality equipment is easier to clean, repair, and typically lasts longer anyways. Once quality equipment is in place, cleaning, repairing, and covering it can protect the item, make it last longer, and ultimately give you a higher return on your investment.
6. Covers for Lab Equipment
One simple and very cost-effective way to protect lab equipment from contaminants, dust, debris, and vandalism when not in use, is by using fitted, reusable protective covers. Equip Inc. provides a variety of custom covers for any type of lab equipment. These covers are highly durable and can either partially or completely encase the equipment to secure it after hours and protect sensitive exposed parts from dust & debris, potentially adding years to the functional lifespan of the equipment, and significantly helping it maintain its resale value at the point of replacement by keeping it in top cosmetic shape as well.
If your equipment is frequently exposed to harsher conditions outside of the lab, such as transported on site to outdoor research facilities, a more robust, protective outdoor cover may be more suitable. Equip offers outdoor application lab equipment covers as well.