Creating a lab relocation checklist and PLANNING before moving is the key to a successful relocation.
Moving your lab can be a very disruptive process to the everyday operations of your working environment, not to mention COSTLY. Anyone who has gone through a lab relocation project knows: it needs to be taken seriously and delicately (and it’s never too early to start planning). From broken instruments to lost supplies or degraded samples, there are plenty of incidents that can occur during the move. Here are some items to consider — placed in order of a standard relocation timeline — before your lab relocation project gets underway.
Lab Relocation Tip #1: Inspect your new location.
After you have secured the keys to your laboratory’s new location, it will be important to inspect it very carefully (3–4 months before the move, if possible). In many cases, if you have hired out lab relocation services, this will be one of the first steps of their overall process. Reviewing and documenting the plumbing and mechanical infrastructure of the new location will help you create an overall floor plan, charting where everything from instruments to supply cabinets and eye-washing stations will go. Additionally, taking measurements of all doorways, hallways, elevators, and stairwells can give you an idea of how everything will fit. Electrical infrastructure is specifically important to consider. Where are the outlets? What voltage are they? If you are moving a large freezer unit or oven, is there physical space to accommodate it? This exercise helps to mitigate surprises on moving day.
Lab Relocation Tip #2: Taking inventory and creating organized categories.
What items are you moving, and what special considerations need to be taken for each item? Not only should you take inventory, but categorizing unique transportation needs for each piece is vital to a successful lab relocation. If you have living samples in your freezer that need to move to the new location, having a very specific plan for those items becomes vital to the integrity and success of the research project you are working on. Just as you would classify an instrument as “critical” in your lab, it is a good exercise to classify everything that you are about to move. This helps to weed out the items that you can properly dispose of (so you only move what you need to) and get a fresh start at your lab’s new location. The first layer of categorization could look like:
- Repair Parts
- Safety Equipment
- Office Supplies
- IT Equipment
- And more…
When it comes to planning for your lab relocation, creating lists and categorization procedures will actually save a lot of time, anxiety, and frustration as moving day approaches. There’s nothing worse than surprises on moving day. Surprises are for birthday parties and pranks, not lab relocation projects!
Lab Relocation Tip #3: Hazardous materials will require special permits.
It will be important, about 2–3 months before the move, to contact the transportation department about required permits. When transporting anything that has been classified as hazardous by the Department of Transportation, special considerations and precautions need to be taken. Not only are there legal implications, but it is also a matter of public safety. When transporting dangerous materials, it becomes even more critical to create a list of needed permits and required procedures before moving day hits.
Lab Relocation Tip #4: Don’t hire “just any” moving company to relocate your laboratory’s expensive instrumentation.
Instrumentation is one of the biggest investments in your lab. Not only are these items extremely expensive, but they are very delicate. Spending the extra money to hire professional lab relocation specialists for this portion of the move is smart, and it can save countless hours in maintenance and repairs down the road. Having an instrument damaged during the move can be costly from the perspective of money and time, but instruments can require special calibration once they reach the new location. Hiring a professional to move, install, and calibrate your equipment will take this important step off your plate. Also, in many industries, the lab relocation services team can help you run through qualification processes in order to ensure that your instruments are ready for processing post-move. When instruments enter a new environment, it is important (in many cases, REQUIRED) to consider Performance Qualification services (PQ) for each piece of equipment that needs to get back into rotation.
Lab Relocation Tip #5: Cold storage is definitely something to consider.
Some samples require a very specific (and narrow) temperature RANGE at all times, therefore a simple refrigerated truck won’t suffice for moving these materials. In order to maintain the integrity of your lab’s research project, it is important to plan how these items will move early in the process. For instance, it’s a great idea to have a “back-up” freezer on hand in case something happens to the main freezer in transit. Additionally, having dry ice ready on moving day can also act as a solid back-up plan should anything go wrong with both freezers. Not following these requirements can erase weeks or months of research that your lab has already conducted. Cold storage procedures become even more important for highly-regulated industries, and planning makes all the difference.
Some final thoughts on lab relocation.
When preparing for lab relocation, simple efforts beforehand — such as taking the time to plan the move out over a few months and making arrangements for any special precautions — will make for a simpler relocation. As a lab manager or lab director, your attention is required for many different tasks every single day. Hiring out lab relocation services can relieve some burden and allow you to stay focused on the quality of your lab’s scientific output. Should you choose to take on lab relocation yourself, however, we hope this article provides some helpful tips for a successful move!