Using Lab Scheduling To Move A Lab With Less Stress

Lab Informatics

laboratory bench with material for blood draws

laboratory bench with material for blood draws

For reasons ranging from a change in funding status to needing a larger floorspace, sometimes laboratories are forced to relocate. These relocations incorporate all of the challenges of a normal personal domicile move and multiply the number of variables to track and potential risks. Being organized is critical to ensuring that all of the laboratory’s equipment, supplies, stored specimens, and personnel are replanted without mishap. Laboratory information software is a powerful tool in the hands of laboratory managers and staff in the context of a laboratory relocation, and can be the difference between a successful move and a priceless specimen library lost to a long thaw in the moving truck.

Challenges Unique To Lab Moves

Not all researchers may have undergone lab relocations yet, so the issue bears some additional characterization. Laboratory moves have the following issues that other industrial relocations don’t1

  • Laboratories have vast arrays of chemical reagents which must be moved in accordance with local laws, which may require paperwork and additional costs
  • Moving chemical reagents may require hiring a separate moving company whose specialty is in moving chemicals such that acids and bases are kept in separate transit drums
  • Moving live cultures requires adherence to local biosafety laws and may require hiring specialized movers2 that are biohazard-rated; there will be extra paperwork
  • Moving sensitive instruments requires exceptional care, which typically requires hiring specialized laboratory movers
  • Not all equipment can be safely shut down and packed or set up safely, requiring expert users or other specialists

This list of issues barely touches on the issues that stem from moving frozen specimens or living specimens, which may be unavoidable depending on the lab. Moving active projects presents even more challenges:

  • Some laboratory equipment needs constant electrical power supply (e.g. -80C freezers) to preserve the specimens within; time spent in transit is a race against the clock, with specimen thaw and degradation increasing over time
  • Some laboratory equipment needs a constant link to logistical supply of resources that are difficult or impossible to deliver while in-transit like liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide; time spent in transit is another race against the clock
  • Equipment must be set up rapidly at the destination, requiring planning for wiggle room
  • Some equipment must be disconnected from its logistical supply at the last minute before being moved and reconnected immediately upon arrival

The amount of help that software organized moving can provide will differ depending on what is being moved, which will depend on the nature of the lab and the demands of the laboratory heads.

Moving Equipment And Supplies, Active Projects, Personnel, Or All Three?

For the purposes of moving, laboratories consist of equipment and supplies, active projects in the form of cellular cultures or other live specimens, and the personnel of the lab.3 Most laboratory moves will involve a massive scaling down or total termination of active projects, but certain active projects like biorepositories stored in freezers are typically moved due their high value.

If the laboratory is united in their use of a single informatics platform, it’ll be easy for the lab managers to see which active projects are near completion, which can be gracefully paused during the move, which shouldn’t start, which cannot be stopped despite the move, and which should be terminated to make the timescale of the move. This will make the move far less painful because it lets laboratory staff figure out which group within the lab should be moving first and which groups will be more difficult to move than others.

Moving personnel and leaving behind all of the laboratory’s equipment is the easiest lab relocation scenario, but it poses a different set of problems. Will the lab be responsible for helping personnel with their relocation, or will everyone be left to fend for themselves? Furthermore, is everyone in the lab clear regarding how the new location’s access policies will be? If the laboratory is moving a long distance, it will be necessary to move personnel.

How Far Is The Lab Moving?

Many laboratory relocations are relatively short distance, which makes things easier. Shorter moves means that the lab can pack up later, unpack sooner, and get back to work faster. Lab managers can use their laboratory software to schedule the time frames in which lab groups should be packing up, the day and estimated time of when their equipment will be moved, where they will be unpacking, and indicate to change inventory orders accordingly.

Moving equipment and supplies within a city or short distances cross country has the benefit of requiring only one mode of transit (trucks), which means that the lab won’t have to hire separate moving companies for departure and arrival. This means that regulatory paperwork will be much lighter, and the total expense will be much cheaper.

Moving laboratory equipment and supplies long distances will require using air transportation for rapid re-deployment of active projects which can’t stop, which is far more expensive and requires far more paperwork to comply with International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules regarding specimen transportation. Long range moves will also require hiring multiple moving companies and coordinating their schedules with the time frames of the lab members’ arrival at the new site.

Lab Scheduling Can Make Moves Smoother

Web-accessible laboratory informatics will be indispensable for all parties involved in cases like the long range total lab move. Laboratory planning software that can create separate complex plans to address all of the challenges of lab moving will provide the laboratory with a fighting chance, especially if the lab is moving its entire contents a long distance. Thankfully, there is such a software that is ready for labs to use and can streamline the process considerably.

BIOVIA”s Laboratory Informatics software capabilities enable organizations to reduce complexity, control costs and minimize deployment risk while at the same time reducing long-term cost of ownership.With Laboratory Informatics, moves don’t have to result in the loss of precious specimens or the chaos of lost equipment. Contact us today to find out how we can help you use our software to make your laboratory group’s move graceful rather than traumatic.

  1.  “Laboratory Relocation Guidelines.” 2007, https://www.safety.caltech.edu/documents/62-lab_relocation_guide.pdf.
  2.  “Biological Transport Services.” 2018, https://pbmmi.com/biological-transport/
  3.  “NIH Guidelines For Moving Your Laboratory Safely.” 2014, https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/sr/dohs/documents/MovingYourLabSafely.pdf