Laboratory Moves

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Nifty has been involved in a wide range of laboratory moves in the UK and Europe throughout the last decade. Laboratory moves in particular have warranted our special help with overseas relocations due to nature of this multi-national scientific industry.

Specialist Knowledge

Our specialist knowledge and expertise help to make a move more straightforward for laboratory managers for whom a major move can be logistical challenge.

With adequate planning, all laboratory contents can be moved safely. We have extensive experience of carrying live and hazardous materials both between campuses in the same city and across the country.

Our goal is to minimise risks for all clients, but the ethos is especially true for laboratory moves where there are many hazardous factors requiring consideration.

Laboratory moves can be rare, particularly for long-established colleges, universities and scientific organisations. There can be years of irreplicable research at stake. Cross-contamination is a factor not encountered by most move companies and the nature of scientific work means that every lab is unique. There is no secret to a successful laboratory move – it is all about planning, preparation and communication.

Experience Counts

Laboratory moves are not unique as such, but knowledge of authority requirements make life that little bit easier.

Our experience in laboratory moves have included multi-lab churn, with equipment moving from one lab to another, with equipment from there being relocated to a third laboratory – all three locations being in different countries. Other laboratory moves have been more simple in theory, with moves taking place with the same building or across the city. All moves have the same fundamental requirements though, regardless of location. All Nifty laboratory moves have the same high standards for safeguarding all equipment and materials involved across Bio-safety levels 1-4.

Nifty Laboratory Moves – Ten Tips

The better the planning, the better the move. Get the key people from the lab and the relocation company together as early as possible in the planning process so that all parties fully understand and appreciate the laboratory move requirements, deadlines and specifics.
For all laboratory moves, the move team must conduct thorough surveys of the existing and new laboratories. There are many considerations that your account manager will discuss to help assess / allocate the appropriate resources, timescales, packing mediums and protective / packing materials required.
The initial planning meetings and site surveys for all laboratory moves usually identify areas of concern or potential issues – which is when contingency planning comes into play. General areas on contingency planning would normally include parking / access and lift usage.
The same stringent safety practices from the lab need to continue throughout the laboratory moves as chemicals and hazardous materials move from one location to the next.
For laboratory moves where the public highway is used, a Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) is required by law to ensure that chemical and dangerous substances are transported safely and legally, including the correct placarding, labelling and documentation that may be required. All relevant regulations, including COSHH are adhered to.
IT is a fundamental part of any organisation and laboratories are no exception. Having adequate backups before a move are essential – any data stored locally should be backed up onto a server or other external device before the move. One of the most essential factors in any successful move is having IT and telecoms services fully functional for staff arriving for work on their first day in the new premises, and is especially important for laboratory moves where data is so critical.
In some cases a fridge or freezer will need to be left for 24hrs before re-connecting to power to allow the gases to settle to ensure that the equipment operates correctly and does not compromise the contents. Where the freezers need lifting / tilting during the laboratory move, contents may need to be removed due to weight constraints. Care must be taken to select the most cost effective solution that meets the temperature requirements depending on the sensitivity of the materials to ensure that they are not compromised during the relocation.
If during the laboratory move, fridge / freezer contents are to be moved in a ‘live condition’ within the refrigeration unit, they must be packed and secured prior to relocation. If weight is an issue, for example if the fridges / freezers require being carried up or down staircases, it may be prudent to plan for using a spare fridge or polystyrene chill containers to chill the contents until the fridge is down to temperature in its new location. It is also possible to use a generator vehicle throughout the laboratory move that has capacity for ensuring the fridges remain powered up and operating temperatures are maintained during transit.
Timing and coordination is the key to a successful laboratory move, particularly with regard to moving equipment. With service companies usually responsible for the disconnection, decommissioning, re-commissioning, reconnection and calibration of equipment, there can be several service providers involved, even on a relatively small laboratory move. This escalates the importance of timing and coordinating the number of people working in the laboratory on any given day to achieve shut-down on move day.
While typically easier to move than the technical elements, the conventional desks, chairs, filing etc. tend to get overlooked in laboratory moves. Specialist crates make moving files and paperwork a much easier task and a well planned labelling and packing system can streamline the process.
After everything for the new site has been transported, there is usually a proportion of redundant furniture and equipment. Care should be taken to clear the items from site and make arrangements for their recycling or disposal. Equipment will need to be decontaminated (where applicable) before it can be recycled and decontamination certificates will need to accompany each item.

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