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Laboratory Relocation in Three Stages

A project manager and relocation team can help navigate all stages of a laboratory move

Michelle Dotzert, PhD

Michelle Dotzert is the creative services manager for Lab Manager. She holds a PhD in Kinesiology (specializing in exercise biochemistry) from the University of Western Ontario. Her research examined the...

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Laboratory relocation can be broken down into three stages: pre-move preparation, final preparation and the move itself, and post-move recommissioning and setup. These stages require substantial planning and organization, as well as expertise to safely transport equipment and samples and set up a functional new space. As such, laboratory relocation is a large, complex project that can benefit from a project manager and expert team. Working with a relocation service provider can take the stress out of every phase and minimize disruptions to daily operations.

The initial planning phase is critical for a successful lab relocation. “Ideally, lab planning should begin as soon as it is decided that a new lab space is needed,” says Angelo Filosa, portfolio director, Global Professional Services at PerkinElmer. This process involves creating a budget and timeline, developing decommissioning and recommissioning protocols, informing key stakeholders, and dozens of logistical considerations such as transportation. Disruptions and downtime can be costly, and for some, it may be advantageous to relocate without fully shutting down operations. This is feasible; however, it will require lots of planning. Filosa recommends “staging moves in different phases or scheduling during nonoperational times” to minimize disruption.

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When the move begins, all the processes that were laid out in the planning phase must be managed. A relocation service provider can not only aid in the planning phase, but can also manage logistics during the move. Equipment must be properly decommissioned, packed, and transported safely to ensure it arrives in good working order. Service providers have the supplies and expertise required to carefully pack all types of instruments and arrange for appropriate transportation.

Challenges arise during relocation when any number of details are overlooked. “A simple yet important detail like using freight versus passenger elevators to safely handle the weight of instruments during a move should be factored in,” explains Filosa. A project manager and relocation team are aware of all the considerations and are able to account for every detail to make the transition as efficient as possible. It is also inevitable that adjustments and contingency execution will be required, making it important to work with a project manager and team that can adapt quickly.

Once equipment, supplies, and samples have been moved to the new laboratory space, the post-move phase begins. According to Filosa, “You need to manage recommissioning of instruments, validation and qualification of instruments, and getting instruments and software onboarded so they can be used again as soon as possible by scientists.” There may also be some infrastructure needs to address such as IT connections, temperature and humidity control, and water and gas connections. Some service providers offer additional services following the move to help resume normal operations.

Laboratory relocation is a large, complex project that requires a wealth of planning, along with an effective manager and support team. Working with a relocation service provider during every stage can ensure a smooth transition and minimize workflow disruptions.