The variables in laboratory equipment affects how it is maintained. Research laboratories may use common types of measuring equipment similar to that used in experimental and testing laboratories.
Another common issue these types of laboratories encounter is the frequency of use of equipment that causes replacement and/or repair. By maintaining laboratory equipment on a regular basis, repair and replacement can be delayed.
In the U.S. laboratories are certified by a national laboratory certification program and in certain research laboratories working on government projects, primary investigators may also require certification.
Tips for Maintaining Laboratory Equipment
Three tips for maintaining laboratory equipment include:
1. Regular cleaning of laboratory glassware
2. Calibration of laboratory balances and scales
3. Replacement of spent HPLC columns and chromatographic cartridges
1. Depending on the specific uses of laboratory glassware, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and drying. In some cases, drying of lab glassware may not be required.
It is also important to understand the effects of using certain chemicals on lab glassware and temperatures this glassware can withstand while in use.
Distillation kits may require glass flasks to be replaced should residue compromise accuracy.
2. Calibration of laboratory balances and scales should be performed by professionals. In most laboratories, there is a standard operating procedure that must be followed for calibration of laboratory equipment. Review reliable sources for examples of calibration procedures.
Calibration ensures accuracy in research and testing results by technicians. It also ensures that ensuing research and testing reports are valid and easily verified.
3. Replacement of spent HPLC columns and chromatographic cartridges usually is done after columns are tested for efficiency and column back pressures are calculated.
Columns should be equilibrated at time of first use and after they are stored. Columns should always be protected from contaminants. To prevent phase separation and precipitation of HPLC columns, make sure solvents used are miscible when changing a mobile phase.
Chromatographic cartridges are generally used to isolate and purify antibodies, for desalting and for testing of various contaminants and chemical compounds. These cartridges are usually replaced due to build up of contaminants at the head of HPLC columns.
When particulates enter HPLCs from various sources, this may result from HPLC system wear, specific sampling preparation methods used in the lab and solvents and buffers used. Refer to the instructions in the required Standard Operating Procedure manual, (SOP).
Ensure all laboratory technicians, principal investigators and lab workers at each level refer to the SOP for lab procedures after a thorough review.
Maintaining laboratory equipment is a means of stabilizing laboratory costs. However, lab managers should provide adequate equipment maintenance training and awareness. In this way, laboratory work maintains highest quality and reduces wear and tear on equipment.