When it comes to lab equipment maintenance strategies, there are two prevalent options. The first is the tried-and-true preventative maintenance, and the other (often preferred) is planned maintenance optimization (PMO). Smart Lab technologies can help with both.
Preventative maintenance is well known and well understood. It involves the traditional mix of inspections, testing, cleaning, and calibration to ensure that equipment is running to specification. Then, as equipment nears its projected end of life, it’s replaced. Another strategy that has steadily been gaining a following is PMO, a more proactive approach to preventative maintenance which is outlined in an excellent article in Lab Manager Magazine, Planned Maintenance Optimization: Take the guesswork out of lab equipment failure.
Equipment is monitored using specific parameters to detect performance issues that may signal impending trouble, and then replaced when stress is detected, regardless of whether it’s near the end of expected lifespan, or in advance. Data drives the decision, not a calculated lifetime average that fails to factor in the equipment’s own performance data. The approach makes complete sense, but the devil is in the details. Where does equipment data come from, and how rich are the data sets?
Emerging Smart Lab technologies, including lab-equipment monitoring, are the missing link for many lab maintenance programs, particularly those built around PMO. Wireless monitoring systems gather highly granular data about day-to-day equipment performance patterns, giving lab management teams precisely the information they need to successfully analyze and characterize equipment performance and inform their PMO strategies. Enhanced data analysis and machine learning can be harnessed to provide a complete picture of performance in a proactive vs. reactive approach.
So, instead of manually gathering individual data points across a day and manually analyzing them in the spreadsheet program of choice, consider a comprehensive lab-monitoring program as part of a PMO strategy. The upside is that PMO “reduces overall maintenance costs by an industry average of 25 percent—saving an average midsized life sciences organization $20 million annually,” according to the article. The dollar-savings, alone, make PMO programs compelling, as does reducing the possibility of equipment failures and lost samples and reagents.