Lab management software comes in many different forms, each with its own unique specialty and focus. However, an area often overlooked by many of these solutions is in the effective management of laboratory equipment, tools, and assets.
Without a clear way to effectively address equipment maintenance and calibration data storage, labs are left to manage their essential instruments on their own. While this is not an inherently difficult task, it does require meticulous monitoring and tasks prone to human error, such as manual data entry and records management via spreadsheets or paper.
It’s no secret these tasks are tedious, time consuming, and generally low-priority for most lab managers. As such, they are often overlooked when urgent assay requests or production demands require attention. However, If left unchecked for too long, the health and reliability of a lab’s critical assets are put at risk.
“Laboratory equipment is truly the backbone of any laboratory. Scientists simply cannot create quality data, validate research findings, or meet their customers’ needs without instrumentation, measuring devices, and other essential lab tools.” says Greg Freitag, Director, Sales Operations.
“They are the workhorses lab teams rely on to generate results and validate the efficacy of their work. Ensuring their reliability to insulate against risks to the science or the customer should always be a top priority for any well managed laboratory facility.”
A way for labs to better manage the health and wellbeing of their equipment is through software. Using equipment maintenance software, labs can effortlessly manage the health and maintenance of critical instruments and assets. This article will help you understand what to look for in lab asset management software.
Importance of Lab Equipment Maintenance
Equipment maintenance is not just about prolonging the life of the equipment; it’s about ensuring your lab operations are reliable and the data your team produces is trustworthy.
Ensure Accurate, High-Quality Results
In a laboratory setting, accuracy – and being able to prove said accuracy – is paramount. Well-maintained equipment stands as the guardian of this accuracy, ensuring every test, every measurement, and every analysis is as accurate and reliable as possible.
When your equipment isn’t kept in good condition, or you cannot prove it’s in good condition and up to standard, problems can develop. The reliability and validity of every result generated with poorly maintained tools can be called into question, eroding the trust you’ve built with your clients and colleagues.
Avoid the Cost of Equipment Downtime
Every minute a piece of equipment is down, it’s not just a delay; it’s a direct hit to the lab’s productivity and bottom line. Common examples of how laboratory equipment outages negatively impact laboratory workflows include:
- Manufacturers: Interrupts quality control testing needed to release products and delays product shipping schedules.
- Medical Laboratory: Reduce sample throughput and delay patients and physicians from getting timely access to health related lab results.
- Environmental Monitoring Facilities: Risk missing customer deadlines and sample integrity.
To prevent unplanned equipment outages, good equipment maintenance measures should be implemented and strictly adhered to.
For lab managers, ensuring your lab complies with regulatory standards isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Numerous standards require equipment used to generate data to meet certain standards and conditions. If these tools are found to be non-compliant, the data they helped to generate could potentially be deemed invalid and ultimately, discarded.
Examples of standards with equipment specifications labs may to adhere to include:
- ISO 17025
- ISO 8655:2022
- IEC 61010
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
Safety in the Lab Environment
Safety is non-negotiable in the workplace, and laboratory settings have unique safety risks. Properly maintained equipment can minimize these risks, ensuring that lab personnel can focus on their work without fearing equipment-related accidents. Fortify your organization’s EH&S program with software tools that ensure asset-related incidents are non-existent.
Challenges Faced by Facilities Without Dedicated Asset Lab Software
Without dedicated software to help manage your equipment’s maintenance, calibration, and long-term health, it’s simply not as easy to stay on top of these crucial tasks. Let’s delve into some of the most pressing issues lab managers often face when managing asset health without the right tools at their disposal.
1. Manual Data Management and Tracking
While tried and true methods (Excel spreadsheets, paper records) of tracking equipment can be just as effective as software-based solutions, they require a considerable amount of time and resources – time and resources that most labs simply don’t have.
Additionally, having to navigate through stacks of paper records or rely on spreadsheets is not only cumbersome but also prone to errors.
The limitations of such methods are evident: misplaced logs, misrecorded data, and the sheer time it takes to manually enter and retrieve information. This not only hampers productivity but also introduces the potential for inaccuracies that can compromise the integrity of lab results.
2. Inconsistent Maintenance Schedules
Without automated reminders or a centralized system, crucial equipment calibrations can easily be overlooked. This reactive approach, where issues are addressed only when they become glaringly evident, can lead to prolonged equipment downtime.
Moreover, inconsistent maintenance can reduce the lifespan of valuable lab instruments, leading to higher replacement and emergency unplanned service call costs in the long run.
3. Compliance and Audit Vulnerabilities
In an industry where compliance is paramount, the lack of digital traceability can be a significant vulnerability during audits. Manually maintained records might not provide the comprehensive history or proof of equipment maintenance and calibration that regulatory bodies demand.
Additionally, audit timelines can be 30-50% longer for organizations lacking a centralized system of record. This not only risks potential penalties but also jeopardizes the lab’s reputation in the scientific community.
What is Lab Management Software For Equipment?
Lab management software is a digital solution that helps laboratories monitor and manage the health of their critical assets such as analytical instruments, pipettes, analytical devices, and other essential laboratory equipment.
Unlike other laboratory software where sample and generated result data is the focus, asset lab management solutions store information pertinent to managing and maintaining laboratory equipment, including preventative maintenance records & equipment calibration data.
It’s important to note that these solutions have nothing to do with managing sample or assay data; they focus solely on asset health. Asset lab management software allows you to:
- Keep track of all essential lab assets (equipment) & their current health status
- Easily manage your network of external service vendors
- Store equipment manuals and internal SOPs in one, centralized location
- Access data about any asset from anywhere, at any time
- Plan service and maintenance tasks
- And more