Relocating a laboratory is not something to be taken lightly. Moving an office full of equipment from one part of the country to the other is a relatively simple endeavor, but relocating delicate laboratory equipment, irreplaceable samples and boxes of beakers and test tubes is another matter altogether.
No matter what kind of laboratory you are dealing with, there are bound to be safety considerations, local regulations and logistical challenges to deal with. As with any move, the right planning and preparation can make a stressful job a lot easier.
One of the most important considerations when moving a laboratory is making sure all of the key players are notified. As soon as the decision to move the lab has been made, the administrator should immediately notify the safety representative. The sooner the notification is made the better it will be and the easier the move will be.
The safety representative will be able to coordinate the move, facilitate the packing of supplies and equipment and file any necessary reports. The laboratory may need to report the move to the appropriate Federal and state agencies, especially if the facility handles disease samples or works with pathogens. Depending on the nature of the laboratory and the timing of the move, this paperwork may need to be filed well in advance, so proper planning is essential.
In some ways relocating a lab to a new facility or building is just like moving anything else. You will still need to pack plenty of boxes, buy lots of bubble wrap and have enough packing tape on hand. Labeling the boxes as you go will be critical, since the beakers, test tubs and Petri dishes will need to be immediately available when you reach your new location.
Moving to a new facility also provides lab administrators with a valuable opportunity. You now have the chance to discard the equipment you now longer use, the samples you no longer need and the general detritus that tends to accumulate in even the best run lab. Designate a space for such discards, keeping in mind that some lab samples may need to be separated and handled differently.
Cleaning out those unwanted items also gives you a chance to prepare the old lab space for its new occupants. You will want to coordinate with your janitorial staff and maintenance workers to scrub the walls, clean the floors and leave the space neat and tidy. Leaving a clean space behind is critical if the new tenants will be setting up a lab of there own, but leaving a tidy work area is an important courtesy no matter who the new residents will be.
Once the basic laboratory equipment is packed and ready for its new home, you should make arrangements to visit the new facility and evaluate the space you have to work with. Mark out the proposed locations of any large laboratory equipment that will be making the move. Measure the space carefully to make sure the equipment will fit where you want it, then return to your old lab to continue the packing. On your way out, be sure to measure elevators, stairwells and access doors. Keep those measurements with you to make sure the equipment to be moved will fit.
Packing delicate laboratory equipment can be a real challenge. The precise calibration of the instruments can be thrown off if the equipment is not handled properly, so you should always consult with the manufacturer before packing. During the process of relocating, you need precise guidelines for breaking down, moving and reassembling laboratory equipment, as well as guidance on recalibrating the devices in the new lab.
It is not easy to move an entire laboratory full of equipment, supplies and samples. Preparing for the move the right way can make all the difference in the world and help you avoid unnecessary problems.