In an earlier career, while I was a PhD student at an Australian University, I worked at a research laboratory that conducted vehicle safety-tests. We also conducted various other research experiments in the same facility, from biomechanics research to vehicle dynamics research. The equipment used was expensive and capable of high measurement accuracy. In over 25 years of experimentation and testing, many varied experimental apparatus had been purchased, used, and stored for reuse. Records of this equipment relied on a combination of human memory, and paper and spreadsheet based systems.
Research Laboratory Maintenance
A research laboratory is a unique environment. At any time there are likely to be experiments that are being planned, experiments that are underway and experiments that have finished – perhaps a very long time ago. The experimental equipment that is used is usually highly valuable, and accurately calibrated. Usually, once it has been used, it is kept for a time in the future when it might be useful once again.
For the equipment to be useful for experiments that are underway or planned for the future it has to be reliably functioning and suitably calibrated. Without adequate record keeping, this information is rapidly forgotten and the equipment can be effectively useless for experimental work. This is why research laboratory maintenance is so important. A CMMS can provide the lab with a simple, easy to use tool for tracking and completing such maintenance.
What does a CMMS provide?
A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a database of assets and maintenance tasks. Assets of a facility are stored in the database, along with relevant information about them. With just a little adaption, a CMMS is highly suitable for recording keeping and maintenance planning in an experimental laboratory.
As an asset in the laboratory, each experimental apparatus has:
- Purchasing and supplier information,
- Equipment data sheets,
- Calibration records,
- Storage locations, and
- Future maintenance and calibration needs.
This information can be stored in the CMMS for every experimental apparatus. With this information stored in a central and retrievable location, the power of a CMMS can be fully realized.
- First, the CMMS is a record for any authorized person to find equipment and information about it.
- Second, the CMMS can be used to plan future calibration needs so that equipment is always ready for use.
- Third, regular maintenance for equipment, including safety equipment, can be scheduled for the future. This includes any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) reviews, and occupational health and safety audits.
- Furthermore, full histories of experiments of conducted with each apparatus could be recorded and reviewed.
A QR code can be attached to each piece of equipment so that any maintenance, calibration, SOP updates, or usage data can be quickly added by any authorised personnel. Users of the equipment can easily check the status of the equipment by scanning the QR code and checking its current status and recent work history. Never again will experimental results data to be redone because of uncalibrated or faulty equipment.
If you don’t have a CMMS, what are you missing out on?
Without a CMMS, critical equipment may go missing, or remain un-calibrated, or be unsatisfactorily maintained. Any of these can dramatically affect the quality of results obtained from the laboratory.
Fiix has a CMMS available for a small monthly access fee. Compared with the cost of one researcher spending one or more days waiting for a piece of equipment to be found, or calibrated, its cost is very small. Compared with a wasted set of test data because a machine was not properly functioning when it was being used, is cost is negligable. You can give a demonstration CMMS a try, for free, today, or you can see our pricing page for a full view of the monthly costs.