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Planning a laboratory move during lockdown

04/06/2020 / General help and advice / posted by Tim Aspey

As the threat of COVID 19 continues to disrupt daily life in the UK, science has never been more important.

With ambitious virus testing schemes and research programmes looking into vaccine development and potential treatment, many laboratories are having to expand to meet the extra workload. And despite restrictions on movements, many essential laboratory relocations are still taking place across the UK and beyond.

So how do you plan a laboratory move during lockdown?

  1. Choose your team carefully

Work out exactly who will be in the team involved in the relocation and what their roles are. How can individual people make sure the move goes smoothly and what will need to be done on the day of the relocation? During the current crisis, there is pressure to reduce the number of people on site at the same time so some admin roles may well be handled by staff working from home. Make sure you have an up-to-date list of exactly who will be needed in the laboratory immediately after the move and in the days leading up to it. For safety reasons, it is probably advisable to only have key staff present during the relocation itself to allow social distancing measures to be maintained.


  1. Brainstorm problems and solutions

Spend time working out what the potential problems could be and what issues you need to avoid. Brainstorming in this way will allow you to come up with possible solutions if things don’t go according to plan. For example, examine the risk factors when moving each piece of equipment as well as any chemicals, samples and other materials. Avoiding busy times could reduce the risk of being delayed in traffic. Think about any measures which need to be taken to reduce the risk of infection like issuing staff with PPE or deep cleaning areas before and after the move takes place.


  1. Use a specialist relocation company

Laboratory relocation is a specialist area so make sure you use a company which has experience and expertise in moving scientific equipment, samples, data and materials. Many businesses have restricted their operations during lockdown so contact companies for information and make sure they are able to carry out the move on the date you need and have an effective plan to ensure the relocation goes smoothly. Aport specialises in laboratory removals all over the UK, Europe and beyond and our team is used to the challenges associated with moving sensitive equipment and confidential data. Currently we are operating business as usual, with additional working practices and precautions to help prevent spread of coronavirus.


  1. Make a list of equipment, instruments and samples

It is vital to make an inventory of exactly what needs to be moved. For each item, notes need to be made about the conditions it must be moved in. For example, what temperature must samples be kept at while in transit? What are the decommissioning and recommissioning processes for each piece of equipment? Are there any dangerous goods or hazardous chemicals? Keeping a detailed list will make the whole process easier. During laboratory relocations, Aport follows strict procedures and individually labels and logs each instrument so it can be tracked at all times. Our team will also make sure all regulations are met throughout the entire relocation process.


  1. Think about access

Many universities and facilities are partially closed during lockdown so make sure that you think about access. Consider the routes which the removals team will need to make to move the equipment. Are there any areas with restricted access? Can you get through the doors and corridors you need to? Where can vehicles park or stop for loading and unloading? Are there any security issues? Thinking about these factors in advance will reduce the risk of any problems occurring on the day. When you use Aport for your laboratory relocation, your move manager will put a detailed plan in place which takes any access restrictions into account.


  1. Allow extra time

Lead times in the current situation are longer than normal due to reduced staff working in a whole range of situations.  It is particularly important to allow additional time for overseas projects as customs queues can be especially time consuming.  For example, we encountered a queue more than 4km long on a recent relocation from the UK to Switzerland.


To discuss your relocation in detail and find out how we can help, contact our team today on 01257 676006.

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