The biggest investments you will ever make for your lab are purchasing your equipment, and maintaining it to keep it working properly. How do you keep it running safely, smoothly, and accurately? Here is a research laboratory equipment maintenance and repair checklist to keep your equipment humming along.
Start with an SOP
Every piece of equipment, from your microscopes to your biological safety cabinet, should have a clear Standard Operating Procedure relating to it. An SOP ensures that everyone using the equipment understands how to use it properly, and how to maintain it. Being able to prove that you have an SOP can help you in many ways, from regulatory compliance to tapping in to the warranty on a piece of malfunctioning equipment.
Your SOPs should cover, at a minimum:
- The piece of equipment referenced, as well as the serial number, year, make, and model
- A definition of any abbreviations used within the document
- A list of employee job titles who have authorization to use the equipment, as well as any applicable certifications
- Detailed instructions for proper use of the equipment
- Detailed description of the maintenance required for the equipment
Keep a separate folder near each piece of equipment, and store all documents that came with the equipment such as guides or maintenance instructions. This is the perfect place to keep records of all maintenance, calibrations, repairs, and routine cleaning performed on the equipment.
If applicable, directions for disposing of any waste or hazardous materials should be included in each folder as well.
Cleaning is an important part of ensuring your research laboratory equipment remains in good working order, with no chance of cross-contamination of your samples. To thoroughly clean your equipment:
- Wipe down all equipment externally
- Clean and disinfect your sinks
- Organize and sanitize all work spaces
- Deep clean the equipment
- Use a 70:30 mix of alcohol or ether to clean your microscopes
- Check for expired solutions, such as those needed to calibrate equipment
Calibration ensures the accuracy of your test results, making this a very important step in laboratory maintenance and repair.
- Post signs reminding users to calibrate
- Make a running sheet of all results after calibration
- Ensure that all necessary calibrating supplies are near the machines
- Keep completed calibration logs in the folder you created for the equipment SOPs
Routine maintenance not only keeps your equipment running smoothly and accurately but it will allow you to notice issues you might have missed such as failing parts, loose pieces, and other potential troubles.
Check the manual supplied with the equipment for manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance. Some machines require a more complete inspection annually, or every few months, to make sure they are performing optimally.
Repair, Replace, or Refurbish?
If you notice your equipment is not as reliable as it once was, you have three choices: repair it, refurbish it, or replace it.
Older pieces of equipment may still have some life in them, and refurbishing might be the answer. To refurbish your laboratory equipment:
- Dismantle the entire piece of equipment
- Deep clean each individual piece
- Polish or lubricate moving parts
- Replace parts that are showing sign of wear
If your equipment is still not functioning properly, you will need to send it out for a professional repair or have someone come to your location to fix it.
If the equipment is past its lifespan and is no longer reliable, replacing it is the best option. Luckily, used laboratory equipment is available, saving money on replacement costs. In addition, companies like BaneBio will buy your equipment or use it as a trade-in on newer equipment.
This checklist is not an exhaustive list of all your research laboratory equipment maintenance and repair issues, but it’s a good jumping off point for getting started on your own program.
BaneBio is available for repairs, relocations, sales, services, assembly, and purchases of laboratory equipment. Have a question? Contact us today to see how we can help you!