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Mitigating Risks Associated with Laboratory Relocations

Scientific expertise, industry knowledge, and a solid reputation are the essential characteristics of a relocation service provider

Grayson Dance

Grayson Dance is the product manager of Relocation & Multi-Vendor Services, CrossLab Enterprise Services at Agilent Technologies, Inc.

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Typical lab relocations can take months of preparation. The ideal scenario is to team up with an experienced relocation services partner who can reduce risks and stress. Once a suitable relocation services partner has been selected, the first step is a risk assessment. The service provider should ensure that the risk assessment takes place during the initial planning of the move and leverages the organization’s experience to identify any challenges. The next step would be to build contingencies into the move plan and ensure communication of the identified risks, risk avoidance practices, and contingency plans back to the customer. 

The move walk and site assessment

Many risks are identified through a “move walk,” where the project manager, coordinators, movers, and others physically walk the path the laboratory equipment will follow. This enables the project manager to check potentially missed details (for example, are door frames wide enough for the lab equipment to fit through, how to manage the move if no elevator is available, is there any current site construction that could create an obstacle, etc.). These details may seem obvious, but if an inexperienced project manager misses them, they could turn into days or weeks of delays.

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Another element of the risk assessment is the site assessment, where the destination site is inspected to ensure it can accommodate the incoming equipment. Ceiling height, instrument footprints, utilities, and more are considered to guarantee all the lab equipment will physically fit and function within the intended space.

Additionally, scientific expertise is crucial in risk assessments. Only a service provider who intimately understands the complexities of scientific equipment can ensure that every part of the move is designed around the lab instrumentation.

Steps to minimize risk

The major risks with any relocation project are time and money—specifically, requiring more time or money than initially estimated. A risk assessment is ideal to avoid delays or additional costs, but no plan can completely predict the future. An experienced relocation services partner will include a contingencies plan to address issues and ensure a successful move.

A risk assessment is ideal to avoid delays or additional costs, but no plan can completely predict the future.

A professional move is more likely to happen when a solid plan is in place and key details are noted as soon as possible. This is especially true with inventories. Critical elements include a thorough and accurate list of what assets are moving, where they are currently located, where they will be going, and when they need to be moved. Inaccuracies or omissions guarantee a delay. The right service provider will always request to take an on-site inventory to ensure accuracy and efficiency.

The importance of communication

Clear communication also reduces the risk of downtime and increased expenditure. Involving key stakeholders like department heads and lab managers early in the process ensures that end users, such as lab technicians, are aware of what’s happening and allows them to express concerns. Project managers can ensure greater success when they receive timely details from those who work with the lab’s equipment daily. A professional relocation service provider partner will establish these lines of communication early in the planning process.

In review, properly mitigating the many risks of lab relocation requires a service provider with extensive scientific expertise, industry knowledge, and a strong track record of completing complex lab moves with minimal disruption to operations.