COVID-19 has brought changes to everyone’s lifestyle whether at home or work. Some good, some bad, some ugly!
Early this year, when laboratories unexpectedly shut down, many scientists were unable to return to the lab. With instruments and assays still running, equipment was silenced without proper cleaning. Now as labs re-open, devices will likely need recalibration, care and maintenance.
During these unprecedented times, researchers continue to stretch their already-tight budgets across more initiatives. The new motto is, “do more with less.” As research is more crucial than ever before, lab automation can help bring that motto to life.
Give Equipment Some Tender Loving Care When Your Lab Re-opens
If you are re-opening your lab after an abrupt departure review these steps:
1. Check for damage. If your equipment won’t turn on or start properly, it may be because there wasn’t time for automation engineers to follow the shutdown protocol.
2. Reschedule planned maintenance. After a multi-month closure, your lab equipment likely missed one or more maintenance checks. Before diving back into your work, schedule a planned maintenance visit to ensure your equipment functions at peak performance, and to avoid loss of samples from incomplete runs or unexpected downtime in the future.
3. Check lubrication levels. Lubricant helps certain components of your automated equipment to move properly. When returning to the lab, lubricate any moving parts to avoid damage.
4. Re-calibrate everything! Calibration ensures your lab equipment is functioning accurately over and over. A loss of calibration can occur from a lack of routine procedures, leading to inconsistent and unreliable data.
5. Re-configure your system. When returning to the lab, you may wish to remove, add or re-configure existing instruments, software or devices. To help ensure your automated system will work across a wide range of applications, test many different configurations as you re-establish the hardware and software in your lab. Biosero’s Green Button Go™ Automation Scheduling Software is flexible enough to set up new methods, assays and workflows quickly. Its in-built simulation mode feature supports you in designing and testing the methods before loading precious samples on the workcell.
6. Evaluate your instruments. Do you need replacement parts? Did your workcell sit dormant for an extended period? Is it no longer running correctly? Could it run more efficiently? Quickly answer these questions by completing a stand alone test of each instrument in your lab. A standalone test runs a diagnostic test to determine if your equipment is performing to its specifications.
7. Update your software platform. If you are using automation software, after a multi-month closure, it likely missed an update. Check for software updates to ensure your platform is functioning at peak performance. If you aren’t using automation software, now is the time to consider automating your equipment. The GBG Batch Planner™ plug-in with Green Button Go software relieves your stress in running kinetic experiments, allowing the use of high-value imagers or readers by multiple users.
COVID-19 made automation a necessity in laboratories. To keep up with the threat of this pandemic and future ones, the lab must automate to run 24/7 and maximize the researcher’s time. If you need help re-opening and revitalizing your lab automation equipment, feel free to reach out to Biosero for a complimentary consultation.