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Equipment Monitoring Saves Lab Managers Time and Money

Implementing a robust monitoring system gives lab managers the oversight and control necessary to improve lab operations and reduce risks

Jeff West

Jeff West works with industry-leading life science companies that aim to utilize digital transformation tools for innovation with a focus on laboratory management hardware, software, and services.

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Laboratory managers are required to complete and supervise many different tasks on any given day. Constant priorities for lab managers include ensuring laboratory operations adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) and all pertinent equipment and environments are properly maintained. Without following strict SOPs and maintaining control of lab equipment or environments, lab managers expose their organization to unnecessary risks, which can create additional costs. By implementing a robust monitoring system, lab managers can save time and money by having the oversight and control necessary to improve lab operations and reduce risks.

Laboratory facilities must adhere to strict regulations that can vary greatly depending on the scientific research being performed. Additionally, many lab facilities are often retrofitted offices that are now required to comply with complex standards, like GMP or GLP regulations. Lab managers are often tasked to devise and navigate complex roadmaps to remain both efficient and compliant. 

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Attention to overall operational details through laboratory monitoring helps achieve regulatory compliance and increases a laboratory’s productivity. Lab managers that focus on documenting and improving operations will effectively save themselves—and their organization—time and money. Audits will be welcomed with ease and showcasing a laboratory’s processes and procedures to key stakeholders will no longer be an issue.

Optimize equipment functionality

Determining whether lab equipment is performing optimally can be difficult, but understanding and improving equipment functionality will increase the quality and reproducibility of scientific research results.

Whether equipment is new, used, or nearing end-of-life, it should always be calibrated and maintained to manufacturer specifications. In addition to keeping equipment routinely calibrated and maintained, equipment should be continuously monitored to ensure it is functioning and operating efficiently. Utilizing a robust, real-time equipment and facility monitoring solution provides complete control and oversight of equipment and facility operations.

It is important to note that implementing cheaper lab equipment could end up costing a lab more over its lifespan in terms of lost time and resources. The same goes for lab equipment monitoring devices, such as data loggers that don’t monitor in real time. If any equipment or device requires attention, the ease of scheduling maintenance or calibrations can contribute significantly to asset downtime and interrupting lab operations. Finding the right equipment and utilizing monitoring solutions that are OEM agnostic can improve equipment functionality and operational processes, resulting in time and money savings.

Protect your equipment

Most of a lab manager’s budget is allocated to purchasing lab equipment and supplies that are used in everyday operations. It is important to protect these important investments by safeguarding all laboratory assets, whether it is the equipment itself or samples and reagents stored inside. Many lab equipment products, such as benchtop devices, can be easily protected with equipment covers or shields when they are not in use, but other devices, like cold storage units, require more attention if they operate 24/7 and store valuable samples that need to remain within finite parameters.

Costs are alleviated and value is protected for facilities equipment and operations when using real-time monitoring

In order to ensure that lab equipment is protected during work hours and after hours, implementing a 24/7, real-time monitoring solution is a value-added benefit. This type of lab monitoring provides up-to-date details on equipment functionality and shows that equipment has remained within preset parameters according to manufacturer specifications. A real-time lab monitoring solution allows lab managers increased oversight to mitigate the many risks that occur from working with valuable lab equipment and in sensitive environments. By reducing the risk of damages and losses to lab equipment through real-time monitoring, costs and time spent responding to issues are significantly lowered. This might not always be evident when considering short term savings, but managers with long term benefits and improving operational efficiencies in mind will certainly see the return on investment.

Record everything in detail, digitally

It is required to keep detailed records of all processes, protocols, and procedures for laboratory operations to prove total control in the event of an internal or external audit. Having detailed records of all laboratory equipment and facility operations in a standardized and digital format will also prove beneficial when a recent hire or tenured employee needs to review company SOPs. 

Standardizing the knowledge transfer between an organization’s new and current workforce will rapidly develop technical and experiential knowledge. By storing equipment manuals and SOP information digitally, pertinent details about standard maintenance and critical procedures is readily available for personnel regularly interacting with lab equipment and operations. Digital documentation in cloud-based environments allows access from any device at any time, providing valuable time savings during employee training or routine equipment checks, and when an estimated 52 percent of facilities staff takes at least six months of training to be fully trained in procedures, saving time is crucial.

Having accurate and reliable records of lab equipment, such as storage devices, is important to protect valuable investments. Lab monitoring solutions that provide real-time records of conditions for samples, reagents, and other valuable assets in an organized database ensure that organizations are able to easily prove compliance with regulatory agencies. Lab managers, and any other necessary personnel, should have easy access to vital equipment information, as well as detailed instructions on how to use and maintain laboratory equipment, in a centralized location. 

Benefits of digitized records for lab equipment and facility conditions:

  • All records in an indexed format with easy query capabilities
  • Saves time when locating information
  • Enhances interdepartmental collaboration and innovation
  • Enhances data acquisition and reporting
  • Reduces paper waste and storage
  • Improves conditions for all storage areas and equipment
  • Reduces quality and compliance risks
  • Reduces staff and operational costs
  • Provides standardized procedures for complex monitoring of storage equipment
  • Improves data traceability and accountability
  • Improves adherence to SOPs

Lab managers that choose to go paperless with digital records of lab equipment and facility operations save their organizations time and money. In turn, they foster overall employee efficiency through easily accessible material for operations and training, and improve the overall scientific output of the laboratory.

Average time spent for laboratory facilities and operations managers. Real-time monitoring can reduce time spent in all areas

Streamlining lab processes with real-time monitoring

Streamlining laboratory processes with monitoring helps minimize the amount of time dedicated to maintaining equipment and facility operations. An effective lab manager takes into account that a decrease in time spent delivers an increase in productivity elsewhere. Many laboratories, whether a research and development, manufacturing, or storage facility, operate in ever-changing environments. This solidifies the need for easy access to real-time information regarding overall laboratory operations. 

Lab managers spend an immense amount of time ensuring labs remain adherent to SOPs, pertinent regulations, and efficient operations. Implementing solutions like real-time monitoring alleviates many challenges lab managers face when maintaining equipment functionality and laboratory operations.