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Laboratory Pack-up & Relocation – Everything You Need To Know, Part 1

technician working in lab

When It’s Time to Move Your Lab

There’s no getting around it: moving a laboratory is a complex process that involves meticulous attention to detail, making it a stressful experience for all concerned. The actual move date will likely be preceded by 4–6 months of careful planning, even if you follow most lab managers’ recommendation that you hire an experienced lab relocation specialist. Outsourcing the project to a lab relocation specialist will minimize the move’s impact on your operation’s scientific mission and productivity.

Moving usually signals that new and exciting opportunities are ahead for a company, but it’s still critically important to plan correctly and take into account all aspects of the experience. For example, although it is important to plan out the logistics of the physical move, it is also important to take into account its emotional impact. A relocation is not only disruptive to the physical plant, but the introduction of a lab relocation specialist will change the dynamics of the organization. A good lab relocation manager will take the time to establish trust and respect with your entire team, and foster productive, collaborative relationships between his move team and your technicians, administrative personnel, and lab leads.

Make keeping everyone informed a top priority. So they can plan accordingly, your team will want to know not just the date for the move itself, but also when the equipment they use will no longer be available. Remember to talk to the facilities manager in the building you are vacating and your contact in the building you are moving into as soon as possible. These individuals will oversee everything from the disconnection and connection of your utilities to the availability of packing/unpacking areas and loading docks.

Every lab relocation is different with different priorities and steps needed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. However, establishing a timeline is will help keep the process on track:

Two to Three Months Before the Move

  • Tour existing and new lab space with your lab transition planner and your architect.
  • Develop equipment binders and review responsibility matrix.
  • Dispose of old files, old chemicals, and old samples.
  • Notify vendors, the mail room, and other relevant parties that the lab has relocated.
  • Secure keys and access to the new space.
  • Identify who will pack the equipment and move it.
  • Set a start date and time-frame.
  • Establish a timeline to shut down certain pieces to prepare for move.
  • Send out RFP for specialist movers (chemical, equipment).

Two to Three Weeks Before the Move

  • Have boxes, tags, and other materials delivered to the lab so that packing can begin
  • Begin labeling each piece of equipment with a separate label that includes the name of the lab, the phase of the move in which it should be handled, and where it should be placed in the new lab.
  • Tour the new space to ensure connections are compatible with incoming equipment.
  • Identify move route for key equipment, checking door and height/weight clearances.

Day of the Move

  • Chemical movers pack up the chemicals in special containers.
  • General movers pack items not already packed.
  • Freezers are placed on the truck last so they can be unpacked first, positioned and plugged in.

Post-Move Follow Up

  • Tour the vacated lab to ensure all items have been moved.
  • Coordinate the calibration of equipment.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to have a lab relocation specialist working with you to ensure a smooth and trouble-free transition and restart. Using spreadsheets, templates, checklists and other tools, a good lab relocation specialist will create a lab transition plan that will make this complex process as clear, straightforward and incident-free as possible.

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Laboratory Relocation Tips For Success

cold storage units and researcher in lab
Whether you’re renovating, consolidating, decommissioning, or expanding your laboratory into a brand new space, use a detailed transition plan to ensure a smooth move and protect your projects. After all, the stakes are high– and missteps have the potential to cause more than temporary inconvenience – so be sure to pay close attention to every detail.

The process can be so complex that some labs hire “transition planners.” Using a set of proprietary templates, checklists, and work plans, these professional planners forecast a timeline for the entire transition, day by day, complete with all the decisions and activities that will need to be made. If you’re anticipating a lab relocation, consider whether or not to hire a transition planner in light of the following points:

Expertise.

Believe it or not, some laboratory transitions take up to six months of planning before a single piece of equipment is moved. With that level of detail to consider, even if you feel you have the resources in-house, you may want to hire an experienced professional planner dedicated to this one task only. This will allow your research staff to continue working on their projects virtually uninterrupted, while your transition planner manages the logistics of the upcoming move.

Experience.

It bears repeating because it’s the most critical thing to account for when managing a laboratory relocation: maintaining the integrity of ongoing research is the most important aspect of any transition. This means your transition planner needs to fully understand the environment your lab is moving into. Where will each piece of equipment be located? Is the proper electrical, mechanical, and plumbing infrastructure in place? If you deal in live specimens, what sort of climate and humidity controls need to be implemented?

The following 10 best practices are highly recommended when transitioning your lab:

Choose Your Internal Team.

It’s likely everyone will play a role, but selecting key people to act as team captains will help keep things on the rails. At your first meeting, identify important dates and a project timeline that you can share with the rest of the staff. Set up regular meetings with your core team so everyone stays informed and any emerging issues can be nipped in the bud before they become problems.

Find a Qualified Equipment Mover.

Don’t rely on regular home or business moving companies to handle your sensitive lab equipment. We don’t have to tell you that these items are delicate and easy to damage. Spend the money and hire someone who specializes in moving lab equipment– the extra investment is well worth it.

Monitor Calibration of Instrumentation.

Talk to your vendors/service contractors to determine under what conditions they will calibrate your equipment after your move. Will they recalibrate or re-certify instrumentation after the move, or does your Agreement with them require that they crate, pack, move and uncrate the equipment in order to maintain your indemnification and guarantee?

Determine Cold Storage Needs.

A regular freezer truck probably isn’t going to do it if you are moving items that require cold storage. Any laboratories contain items, samples, or substances that must be kept in cold storage. Factor in the exact temperature ranges and requirements that the items involved in your research require. Have a back-up freezer on hand the day of the move. Dry ice is also a good idea “just in case.” T

Observe the Chain of Custody.

Do you handle evidence for law-enforcement agencies? Pay particular attention to documenting any chain-of-custody considerations during transport.

Special Permits for Hazardous Materials.

Chances are your lab uses items classified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as hazardous. Make sure you’re adhering to any legal requirements as well as safety concerns while in transit.

Avoid Cross-Contamination.

Your lab’s reputation is on the line. Take every step to ensure that the outcome of your future research is scientifically valid by being accurate and thorough with every item in your lab. Live animals are a special consideration.

Comply with GMP Requirements.

The need to meet regulatory compliance requirements (especially GLP/GMP guidelines) both before and after relocation– is essential. You will need to fill out and file all the appropriate documentation, which can be extensive– so be sure you do your due diligence very early in the lab relocation process.

Plan Your Route.

You may find that doorways and corridors are not large enough to accommodate bulky lab equipment. Measure equipment and consider your route carefully– find alternatives if you have an issue.

Anticipate Your Needs.

Replacing the benches at your new lab? Make sure they look more than look great. If they won’t bear the weight of tabletop equipment, you’ll have big problems on your hands. How about electric outlets and cord lengths? Again, these issues are easy to address in advance, but very inconvenient the day-of.

The most important thing to remember is that laboratory relocation is never routine. The process is complex and the stakes are high. So whether you hire a transition planner, appoint someone from inside your organization, or take the job on yourself, pay careful attention to the details by using these suggested best practices as your guide!

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What You Need To Know Before Moving Your Laboratory

scientist working in a lab
Relocating your lab safely and efficiently can be complicated, time-consuming, and labor intensive. You may be aware of the obvious things that need to be done, like packing and labeling chemicals and other items on the shelves, transporting them safely to their new location, and decontaminating everything thoroughly when you’re down to the bare walls.

However, you should be aware of a few less obvious things. You need to be performing all these tasks according to the compliance and regulatory issues from the EPA, OSHA, DOT, IATA, and any other regulatory bodies that pertain to your laboratory relocation.

Therein lies the $64,000 question: which regulatory guidelines apply to you based on the size of your lab, the work you do, and multiple other factors? In some circumstances, ignoring any required steps could cause employee injury or property damage, and result in thousands of dollars in fines…but not all circumstances. To make it clear to you which regulations and compliance measures apply to the relocation of your lab, and to ensure a safe relocation of your lab according to all the pertinent compliance measures and regulations, it makes sense to reach out to your local regulatory bodies to ask what’s expected of you during your move. Hiring an experienced partner like BaneBio to consult on the logistics of the project could prove to be one of the most helpful things you can do to save time while keeping the project compliant.

Financial Management

Depending on the size and distance of the move, lab relocations can be costly. Rather than hiring a different contractor for each step, a good way to cut costs safely is by hiring one contractor to go through the entire process with you. This will improve the efficiency of the project and decrease the overall price.

Hiring and Team Management

Your logistics consultant will help you assemble the appropriate relocation team based on the size and particulars of your lab. You may need to assemble a team made up of experts in all aspects of a lab relocation that represent key internal and external stakeholders, including team leaders, environmental consultants, project managers, and supply chain vendors.You may not need a team like this, but your logistics consultant can help you determine an alternate way to stay organized and on track during your relocation.

Waste Disposal

Rely on the knowledge of either on-site team members or logistical consultants who have a deep knowledge of hazardous waste disposal. To reduce liability, you will want to dispose of unnecessary hazmat rather than transport it. Assess all chemicals prior to transportation, and dispose of any that will not be used at the new facility.

Hazmat Transportation

Despite your best efforts, it is likely that some hazmat will need to be transported during a lab relocation. If your logistics consultant advises, be sure to adequately pack, label, and transport hazmat all within PHMSA regulations.

Lab Decontamination

It is standard practice to decontaminate the facility you are vacating according to ANSI guidelines. Again, your logistics consultant can advise you on appropriate decommissioning methodology based on the work you have been doing.

Sampling and Reporting

Once again, if advised by your logistics consultant, qualify and document the decontamination of the lab you are vacating through sampling and reporting using real time sampling as well as laboratory analysis. Summarize the decontamination methodology, activities, and sampling results into a report that your company can use to demonstrate and quantify your decontamination efforts.

Considering a lab relocation? Unsure which compliance guidelines and regulations apply to you? BaneBio can help!

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How COVID-19 Is Impacting Lab Operations

scientists talking at a laboratory table
The unemployment rate in the United States is currently hovering around 15%, the worst since the Great Depression. Women, Hispanics, and African Americans have been especially hard-hit and employment in the hospitality and retail sectors has also seen a sharp decline. According to a study conducted in April by market research firm BioInformatics, a partner of The Science Advisory Board, scientists and researchers are also concerned about what the immediate future holds for their employment outlook.

Of the 1,178 participants in the BioInformatics study, 74% were academic researchers and 26% were pharmaceutical or biotech scientists. On a regional basis, 33% of participants were based in North America, 31% in Europe, 24% in Asia, and the remaining 12% were from various other locations around the world.

Although many scientists are classified as essential employees, there are many who are not— and whose livelihoods have been adversely affected during the last 2–3 months by state and local stay-at-home orders. Following the trend set by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, many programs classified as non-essential have been temporarily shut down. In addition, many scientific researchers rely on grants to conduct their research— a funding source that has been all but curtailed during the quarantine. Many researchers have indicated that funds previously used to fund their ongoing studies have been diverted to maintain current animal studies and to pay core staff.

Today, approximately three months from the initial stay-at-home orders, many labs remain closed. The situation has especially dire implications for academic scientists, only 10% of whom responded that their labs were fully operational. More than 56% of academic laboratories remain affected— many more than pharmaceutical or industry laboratories, 27% of which are still closed. Of the remaining 612 labs that are partially or fully operational, 32% conduct research related to infectious diseases, compared with 68% that are not involved in infectious disease research. Surprisingly, a full 71% of research labs dedicated to infectious disease research report running at reduced capacity.

The productivity of those labs who have remained open has been adversely affected by physical distancing and other public health measures put in place to slow or minimize the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. Unlike many industries who have been able to stay connected through video conferencing platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting, this alternative has been far less effective in sustaining the collaborative efforts of scientists and researchers engaged in multidisciplinary projects

In April, according to the rating scale on the initial survey, scientists indicated that their work had been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number of survey participants indicated that a severe economic downturn directly resulting from the outbreak would limit their ability to work. When broken down by research focus, infectious disease researchers working at operational labs reported slightly less concern over their ability to work than did their colleagues at academic labs or those involved in other types of research.

Very few areas of modern life have remained untouched by the pandemic, and the livelihoods of scientists and researchers are no exception. However, despite their current concern about how the pandemic and related economic crisis will affect their employment in the short-term, most expect to get back to conducting their research after the crisis passes. According to the recently updated U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, updated last September, epidemiologists, medical, biological, and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, biochemists and biophysicists, microbiologists, and medical and research scientists are and will continue to be among the fastest-growing jobs between now and 2028.

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Starting a Lab: Begin with the End in Mind

medical research lab

When starting a new lab, it’s wise to take a page out of Steven Covey’s landmark book from 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and “begin with the end in mind.”
What Covey means here is this: before you start your project— in this case building or designing a new laboratory— think about what its function and purpose are going to be when you’re finished. Answering those questions will give you a roadmap for everything else.

For example, is this a research lab? A cell culture lab may need sanitized areas, autoclaves, freezers, and incubators. Analytical labs require efficient air-conditioning and controllable humidity. If used for teaching purposes, include a whiteboard, a projector, storage space for backpacks and supplies, and writing surfaces/desks.

Laboratory Equipment

This will likely be your biggest expense, so don’t take it lightly. Start with a detailed list of what you are going to fulfill the purpose of your new lab. Next, inventory what might already be available to you somewhere else in your current facilities. Decide if it makes sense for you to buy, rent, or lease. If you decide to buy, you can sometimes find discounts available only to new, start-up labs. Used lab equipment from a reputable dealer is also a great way to save money.

Layout

Once you have your vision and obtained the equipment needed to bring it to fruition, it’s time to lay out the physical plant. Start by laying out your lab into different “zones”, each with varying degrees and types of hazards. Allocate various functions into the different zones so that the equipment in each is easily accessible but does not impede the flow of traffic. Speaking of access, be sure that lab entry is restricted to only authorized personnel. And finally, be sure there are multiple exits to be sure everyone is as safe as possible in the event of an emergency such as fire or building evacuation.

Safety

In addition to basics like fire extinguishers, make sure you have fire blankets, emergency showers (with easy-reach handles), eye-wash stations, gloves, masks, and any other task-specific safety equipment that might be needed. Require all staff to complete a compulsory safety training program that identifies potential hazards and appropriate procedures to address them.

Paperwork

There’s a lot of DIY involved in setting up a new lab, but there will also be some steps for which you’d be better served to consult a senior PI or mentor to make sure your start-up is in compliance. At the top of the list will likely be a HIRA (Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment). If your lab will be conducting tests on animals, you will need to obtain a license for animal testing and submit a research proposal to the applicable, regional regulatory bodies for approval. Depending on the type of reagents you use, you will also need to file forms with various regulatory agencies, especially if you use infectious agents or biological toxins.

Biosafety

Biosafety involves the measures taken when handling biological organisms/materials that are known to pose a threat to human health. Containment of the potentially hazardous organism or material in an emergency to reduce the number of exposures is critical. Your lab will need to demonstrate the availability and efficient implementation of both primary and secondary barriers.

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Lab Logistics: Steps to Take to Relocate Your Laboratory

packing up a science lab

At first, the thought of relocating your whole lab can be rather overwhelming. You may have been working in the same space for a number of years, and you know exactly where everything is right off the top of your head. With that said, laboratory relocation is a common experience, as change is inevitable in just about every industry. If you are facing an upcoming move and don’t know how to get started, we hope the tips below will help.

Start with Inventory

This should be the first step you take, and you should get going as soon as you know that the move is going to occur. By definition, a lab is going to have a lot of things that need to be inventoried, so this is quite possibly going to take a lot of time and effort. First, you’ll have the physical equipment that you use for your experiments – some of which is sure to be quite expensive. You may already have some form of inventory in place for all of your gear, but make sure it is up to date and accurate.

Also, there are the materials you use in the lab that will need to be counted and tracked. Depending on the focus of your work, it may be that some of these materials are hazardous, so keep that in mind and be working on a plan to safely and legally transport them to your next location.

Reduce the Size of the Move

One of the nice things about a relocation is that it can serve as an opportunity to pare down the size of your inventory and get rid of a few things that you no longer need. Maybe there are some materials which are used up and simply need to be disposed of in a responsible manner. Or, there might be a few pieces of equipment that are no longer required in your lab and can be sold on the used market. Reducing inventory will make the move easier and it will also help you to avoid cluttering up your new space unnecessarily.

Create a Comprehensive Plan

When you move from one home to the next in your personal life, you can afford to take a more casual approach, knowing that you’ll eventually find everything you need, like your toaster or blender. Such a relaxed approach is not appropriate for a lab move, however, as you need to get back up and running right away in your new location. With that in mind, create a detailed plan for how everything is going to be moved, when it will be moved, and who will do the moving. Including even the smallest details in your plan will help everyone stay on the same page from start to finish.

Be Flexible

Finally, remember that it’s nearly certain that something will go wrong along the way. Despite your careful planning efforts, something will go off-track – and that’s okay. Use your plan to get straightened out and be patient while working toward a successful conclusion.

As an expert laboratory logistics service provider, BaneBio offers multiple services to help simplify your laboratory relocation needs. Contact us today to learn more about packing, delivery, installation and much, much more!

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How to Quickly & Safely Prepare Samples

scientists with lab equipment

It’s hard to keep up with the flow of work in a busy lab, as some tasks simply take a long time to complete. The preparation of samples is one of those tasks in many cases. Depending on the type of sample being prepared, it might be hard to get the job done in time to keep up with everything else that needs to be done. Fortunately, there are methods available that can help to quickly and safely prepare samples. One such technique – the use of ultrasonic energy – is a popular option. Using the ultrasonic process can help with a variety of tasks, such as dispersing, emulsifying, mixing, dissolving, and more.

Following the Steps

As with everything that takes place in a lab, there are specific steps which should be followed when trying to prepare a sample quickly and properly. Once the samples are placed in an appropriate container, along with the right solvent, the ultrasonic process can begin. It is important, of course, to completely understand how to use the equipment involved in this process, as the results will only be accurate when the ultrasonic bath is employed in the correct manner.

One key point to consider when using ultrasonic energy is the matter of heat. Should your samples be heat sensitive, it will be necessary to use lab equipment which is capable of keeping the samples at an acceptable temperature during the process. For instance, some ultrasonic cleaners can use cooling coils to avoid the rising temperatures that would normally come with the use of ultrasonic energy.

Finding the Right Equipment

Purchasing new or used equipment for a laboratory is always a tricky job, and that is certainly the case when looking for gear that will permit you to prepare samples quickly and safely. For starters, you need to be able to find the right equipment for the specific jobs you need to complete, as your needs may vary even from similar labs. Also, you are going to have to remain within your budget, of course, as all purchases are subject to budgetary limitations of some kind. Only when you find equipment that both serves your needs and fits in your budget will you be able to move forward.

Once said equipment is purchased and put into action, regular cleaning and maintenance is necessary to get the most out of the investment. Machines which are capable of helping lab technicians quickly prepare samples are highly technical in nature and must be cared for properly. The key here is to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and care. Each piece of equipment is unique, so it would be a mistake to assume that the care provided to one unit is going to be right for the others in the lab.

In a perfect world, you would have all the time you needed to prepare a sample without any sense of urgency. That is usually not the case, however, so using technologies which permit the rapid and safe preparation of samples is reality for many labs.

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Christmas In The Lab – Do’s and Don’ts

christmas-lab

It’s that time of year here in Maryland. The last of the yellow leaves have fallen, the air is frosty and the party season is in full swing. Evening rush hour starts a few hours earlier than normal, the malls are packed like sardines in a can, and the Metro is full of drunken people in Santa suits shouting at each other and snapping selfies.

Continue reading Christmas In The Lab – Do’s and Don’ts