Why is organisation important in the lab?
A tidy, well-managed lab can help to reduce waste, save time and (importantly) reduce stress. All this leads to improved productivity and a healthier, happier workforce. Even in the busiest lab, it should be possible to carve out some time once a month to get together and decide how to make the lab tidier and more efficient. Fewer mistakes happen when staff are less stressed, and the workplace is tidy and efficient.
Whether you invest in a label machine, or stick to good old fashioned Sellotape, get a label on everything in your lab. If everyone using the lab knows at-a-glance what everything is, who it belongs to and what it is used for, it makes for a much smoother running of the operation. While it’s true that some things are left lying around due to laziness, or not having the time to put things away, it’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to simply ensure everyone actually knows where equipment and reagents belong.
When a new member starts in your laboratory, do they get proper training on lab procedures? Do they know where to go to find new boxes of gloves or pipette tips, or do they assume they have to sneak into the lab next door to ‘borrow’ theirs? Don’t underestimate the importance of a good induction to contribute to the smooth running of the lab
Optimise Lab Layout
Is your bin on the opposite side of the room to your pipette station? Do lab users have to go to three different benches just to complete a single process? Are the cupboards labelled (see point 1…) or do you spend half an hour every other week trying to remember where the 500 mL Erlenmeyer’s are kept? Take a minute to work with everyone who uses the lab to think about the most sensible layout for your workstations and storage
Out With The Old
Make a plan for clearing out equipment that has served its purpose. If you have bench space that is cluttered due to unused equipment, look at whether you can Sell Surplus Equipment to make some space and generate some funds at the same time. Likewise, if there’s a whole lab that needs clearing to make room for a fresh project, make sure you’re getting the best support available with our Lab Clearance Service
Clean As You Go
Your mum tried to teach you this when you started cooking your own dinners, but has it stuck? Cleaning up after yourself as you go along can save so much stress and frustration in the long term. Simple things like keeping cleaning materials handy, making sure the bin is near single-use consumables, and ensuring the glasswasher is emptied after us, can help to make the lab a much more relaxed (and tidy) place to work.
A Place For Everything…
Does every item of equipment in your lab have a home? Or are some items perpetual drifters, causing everyone to chase it around the lab each time a different person uses it? Make sure everything has a home to minimise confusion.
Use Vertical Space
This is especially important for smaller labs. Make use of wall space for shelving and displays. Some equipment has design features specifically to help with optimising lab space, such as the Ohaus Explorer Analytical balances, with detachable controllers that can be mounted at eye-level for ease of use, and bench space optimisation.
Do you know where all your manuals, service booklets and user logs are for all of the equipment in your lab? If you needed it, could you find it easily? Consider scanning in and digitally storing important documents so that you can find and search them easily. Not only will this make you less likely to lose important information at the back of a filing cabinet somewhere, but it also frees up all important storage space.
Speaking of digital documents, do you have an online inventory of all your lab assets? Keeping a working document that lab users can update when stock is running low will do wonders for lab organisation, and make sure everyone is aware of what’s available and what needs ordering
How do you know when to reorder consumables? Do you order ahead and in bulk to ensure you’re getting the best price? Or does everyone order separately, with no real plan for keeping stock in order? Having one person responsible for ordering, or simply a ‘Need to order’ sheet stuck to the door, can help to streamline restocking, and save money and hassle. Here’s to never running out of pipette tips mid-process again!
Keep An Eye On Use-By Dates
Just like the fridge at home, new reagents should be put to the back, while older or already opened bottles should be kept front and centre. Make sure you have a system for avoiding order duplicates of reagents and solvents. An online inventory, or hard-copy stock sheet can help everyone see what is available for use (and what’s off limits!)
Did you read our tips to reduce waste energy a few months back? Remember that keeping a record of where stock and samples are stored in the freezer not only reduces the risk of losing or misplacing valuable stock, it can also help you save energy, and money in the process.
Know Your Lab
It sounds obvious, but know what the purpose of your lab is. Think about whether there is any equipment sitting around that doesn’t belong (get a quote here for unwanted kit) and free up the bench for the work you should actually be doing.
How Can Richmond Scientific Help?
At Richmond, we buy and sell a wide variety of second hand lab equipment. If you have surplus lab equipment to sell, get in touch and we can have it out of your way quickly and easily. This can help you to generate revenue, free up space and reduce service and maintenance costs.
If you’re in the market for new equipment, let us know that you’d like help deciding the best place in your lab. Our expert team of staff have over 20 years experience buying and selling lab equipment, and we’ve learned a thing or two about optimum lab design along the way. We have helped kit out countless start ups with everything they need to get the lab up and running. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.
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