How Chemical Inventory Software Can Take the Headache Out of a Laboratory Relocation

chemical inventory
Transferring chemicals from one space to another during a laboratory relocation can be arduous. Using chemical inventory software can simplify the process.
Image Source: Flickr CC Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, U of T

Moving to a new place conjures mental images of packing and labeling boxes. You carefully wrap fragile items to prevent them from breaking. You try to put similar things together, in the hopes of making unpacking easier later. Despite making yourself a schedule to minimize stress, it happens anyway because there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.

No doubt about it, personal moves are stressful. A few months ago, I helped a friend move into his new apartment. It was chaos. Now take that stress and multiply it at least tenfold. That’s what it’s like to move to a new laboratory. The fragile items might be expensive pieces of glassware. Important pieces of laboratory equipment not only need professional movers because they may weigh hundreds of pounds, but also require recertification from the original manufacturer. As any laboratory worker can tell you, there are many things to take into consideration during a relocation.

High on the checklist should be measures for moving chemicals. Many chemicals found in the laboratory are hazardous and require special precautions to ensure safety. Since a laboratory can house hundreds of chemicals, each with unique properties and considerations, the task of moving them can balloon out of control. However, steps can be taken to make the process manageable. With the addition of chemical inventory software, a laboratory relocation can be vastly simplified.

Purge expired and unnecessary chemicals

Before a relocation, one of a lab worker’s first tasks is usually to take inventory of the chemicals in their old space. Depending on how long your research team has worked in that space, there could be a lot of chemicals on hand—some of which you weren’t even aware you had!

In addition to determining what chemicals are actually in your laboratory, your list also tells you which of them are expired. Regardless of what form the methods takes, most laboratories are good at tracking which chemicals they have on hand. They’re less good at keeping tabs on when those chemicals expire.

With chemical inventory software, barcode scanning allows users to track chemicals the instant they arrive within the laboratory, from amount usage during experiments to expiration dates. If a chemical is expired, why exert the effort to bring it to the new location? Better to dispose of it rather than waste time and energy moving it properly and safely.

Move chemicals via safe methods

All laboratory chemicals have specific requirements for storage and transport. Flammable liquids are stored in a special cabinet. Corrosives may need to be placed in secondary containers during a move to ensure safety.

Safety data sheets (SDS) contain all of this information. Rather than depending on paper copies that may be stored in a dusty binder or inadvertently thrown away upon the chemical’s receipt, inventory software allows easy access to a digital copy of the SDS. With that information available, lab workers can make sure chemicals are moved in the best manner to prevent accidental spills. Upon arrival to the new laboratory, chemicals can be stored correctly. You don’t want to leave a flammable liquid on the countertop nor do you want to store incompatible chemicals in the same cabinet.

Dispose of chemical waste properly

Any laboratory accumulates chemical waste. It’s usually stored in waste containers. If your laboratory is anything like my old one, you wait until those waste containers are full before disposing of the liquid.

When you move, however, you don’t want to bring that waste with you. It’s inefficient. It should be disposed of correctly before the move. The SDS also contains this information. Obviously, it’s not as simple as pouring it down the drain, and in many cases that is the worst possible thing to do.

Aim for effective chemical inventory management, during moves and otherwise

A laboratory relocation can be a painstaking process. There are many things to keep track of: data, samples, equipment and supplies. Since chemicals usually make up a large portion of the final category, they can eat up a laboratory worker’s time. Good chemical inventory software can minimize the stress of moving chemicals, freeing them up for other related tasks like scheduling movers and equipment recertification. If you’re interested in implementing this digital tool in your laboratory, please visit our website to learn more about BIOVIA CISPro today.

4 thoughts on “How Chemical Inventory Software Can Take the Headache Out of a Laboratory Relocation

  1. As someone who’s worked in a chemistry laboratory only briefly, I realize now how little I was aware of all the moving pieces involved. This discussion of the type of things to consider when relocating has highlighted my ignorance.

  2. Patrick, the devil’s in the details, as they say. Nothing highlights all the things you need to be aware of like a lab relocation.

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