Unplanned downtime is a nightmare for any lab. It can tarnish the reputation of an analytical lab because it could affect the reliability of its results. Unexpected delays can also cost a lab money. Labs don’t want downtime because it affects the lab’s ability to continue their projects. Downtime causes a lab to lose valuable time and money. If this issue sounds familiar, use these tips to prevent unplanned downtime in your lab.
Conducts Regular Assessment
It’s best for analytical equipment to be assessed regularly. Lab equipment is important because without it, there is no way of collecting the data. Rather than assessing an issue when it arises, it is better to be preventative. Preventative maintenance is ideal because the equipment is cared for to avoid costly repairs, whereas reactive maintenance focuses on fixing equipment that’s already broken down. Although reactive maintenance is unavoidable to some capacity, it is better to be proactive. A lab should regularly assess the equipment to ensure it is getting the care it needs. It is important to clean the machine regularly and replace any parts in a timely manner. Lab equipment is an investment, so it should be cared for properly. It’s important to outline a preventative maintenance plan with employees to ensure that the equipment is regularly assessed.
Properly Train Employees
One of the best tips to prevent unplanned downtime in your lab is by properly training employees to operate and care for the lab equipment. Equipment breaks down for many reasons. Analytical equipment could break if the person operating isn’t properly trained. Although employees tend to have experience working with equipment, it is important to train employees on each piece of equipment. It is easy to go with a learn-as-you-go method, but this is typically not the best route. When an employee is properly trained on how to operate the equipment, that employee can maximize the use of the machine. Not only can training employees help with preventative maintenance, but it can make employees more familiar with the equipment. The more familiar they are, the easier it is to spot or anticipate a problem.
There are plenty of ways to train employees. One way is by having an expert come to the facility. Since every piece of equipment functions differently, industry experience isn’t always helpful. The company that sold the equipment should have someone available to train employees or help employees understand the machine. The manufacturer might also supply a handbook. This is a great resource because it goes over how the equipment works, as well as how it should be maintained. This manufacturer’s guide should always be easy to access. The more resources are available, the better. Understanding how the equipment works and how to take care of it is the best way to execute preventative maintenance.
Use Maintenance Software
Although there are many ways for employees to prevent unplanned downtime, there are also options that don’t require employee involvement. With technology constantly developing and evolving, there’s no surprise that software exists to tackle this issue. There are many options for preventing downtime, but this option keeps things simple. Some labs are extremely busy, so things may go unnoticed. Of course, preventative maintenance is something every lab should strive to achieve, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. If preventative maintenance isn’t enough, consider installing software to collect data. This software is first installed onto a computer in the lab, and it then collects data based on the performance of the equipment.
Encourage Employee Input
Communication is one of the most important things in any work setting. In a lab, it is important to communicate because not everyone does the same job. Someone that doesn’t work with a specific instrument every day probably won’t know about the maintenance it requires. Encouraging employees to voice their concerns or feedback is essential. An employee who works with analytical equipment daily knows how it functions. They know more about the instrument than anyone else, so valuing their opinion is important. Employee input is also important because it helps with preventative maintenance. Hearing what is and isn’t working from employees is helpful when trying to determine whether an instrument needs repairs or replacement. Consider implementing a source for open communication between employees. The more comfortable employees feel communicating concerns, the better the lab can function.
Plan Upgrades Based on Equipment Lifespan
When a lab attempts to prevent unplanned downtime, there must be organization and planning. Planning to upgrade analytical instruments based on their lifespan is a great way to avoid unplanned downtime. Although there are many things that prolong the life of the equipment, all equipment comes to a point where it’s time for a replacement. Rather than having the equipment break down and cost time, consider keeping track of the equipment’s lifespan. Every piece of equipment should have a document that outlines the time purchased, as well as any repairs or replacements that take place. This keeps things organized, making it easy to identify when repairs have occurred or need to occur. This also keeps track of when the equipment was purchased. It is important to know when the machine was purchased and repaired because this gives a timeline to follow, and this timeline can help estimate when it’s time for a replacement.
If employees are unsure whether their assessment is enough, getting a second opinion is a good idea. For example, there are services that can come out to your lab and help. Industry experts should be capable of telling whether the equipment is coming to the end of its life. When in doubt, consider seeking a second opinion. Unplanned downtime costs analytical labs money and time, so having a second option is worth it if there’s any trace of doubt. This equipment is an investment, so being cautious about its maintenance and upkeep is ideal. If employees don’t know how to determine whether instruments are nearing the end, consider investing in training for employees. If there are things that employees are struggling with, especially in terms of preventive maintenance, it is best to provide that education.
At Gentech Scientific, we offer refurbished scientific instruments that are high-quality and competitively priced. We’ve been in the industry for over 20 years, so we know everything there is to know about analytical instruments. We offer excellent customer service and would be more than happy to assist you with anything your lab needs. In addition, we also offer service and repair. Gentech Scientific has everything your lab needs to run smoothly, so check out our website and let us know if you have any questions.