Moving can be a stressful, tedious process and most have experienced it in the form of moving homes, moving cities, or changing jobs. Less have experience in relocating cumbersome science lab equipment, fragile tools, hazardous chemicals, and piles of references materials. This type of task is only familiar to those in the world of research science.
The simplest option for moving laboratory equipment is to leave it behind. In some cases, this will be mandatory as the original institution may own the tools. But, in some cases, the moving laboratory may be allowed to take things along for free or at a discounted rate. However, even when this is permitted, moving facilities may be an opportunity to upgrade equipment. If one has the chance to kickstart their work with shiny new tools, many will choose to do so.
If equipment is to be relocated, the difficulties will largely depend on the exact items in question.
Moving textbooks, resource guides, notebooks and journals are precisely as challenging as it is in any other situation. Boxes, strong helpers, perhaps a dolly and space in the moving vehicles are the only real considerations.
When considering the size, weight, value, and fragility of some research equipment, it can be well worth the expense to hire professional lab and medical equipment movers. They exist all over the world and their expertise with proper handling and shipping techniques will help ensure that the machines reach their destination in the same condition that they left.
Items such as test tubes, beakers, scales, microscopes, computers, centrifuges, and thermal cyclers must be considered individually. Pipettes and Erlenmeyer flasks are easy to replace. That is unless they are of a specific variety that is expensive, uncommon, and essential to the work in which case they would need to be packaged in bubble wrap and moved with care. Much like travelling with any fragile item, scientists may choose to place equipment in their carry-on luggage to ensure that computers or microscopes are handled delicately.
Moving chemicals requires strict adherence to safety procedures. The move itself need not be complicated if proper preparation has been done. Experienced staff will need to inventory the chemicals. They will need to find the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each chemical and ensure that they are properly stored for transport. They will need to check the labels, the condition of the container and of the solution. Any substances that need to be disposed of will need to follow the handling guidelines. Depending on the types and quantities of chemicals being moved, it may be as simple as boxing them up and in other cases, an environmental company will need to be hired.
Relocating animals, microbial samples, soil, and plants can be the most challenging part of a laboratory move. Failure to follow protocols may endanger or damage the specimens. Each case is entirely different, and some may be complicated, but planning will help. Talking to authorities will ensure that no one violates regulations or faces problems with the USDA.
It is important to remember that not all complications can be foreseen. Preparing, hiring professionals when needed, asking for advice, and leaving what can be replaced can all make a lab move slightly smoother.
Paige Williams is a Public Relations Specialist representing LOC Scientific. With a degree in Integrated Marketing Communication, she shares her knowledge with the readers. Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org