5 Tips for Maintaining Laboratory Equipment, Instructions & Protocols

Just like understanding a lab’s safety protocol, you should read the instruction manual before you use any piece of equipment.

 min. read
October 6, 2021

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in the lab is taking freshly prepared samples to an instrument and discovering that it’s broken. Specimens, reagents, and time are all wasted, leaving no one—from students to lab managers and supervisors—happy. As such properly maintaining laboratory equipment is of the utmost importance.

Read the instruction manual

Just like understanding a lab’s safety protocol, you should read the instruction manual before you use any piece of equipment. Though these manuals may not be immediately accessible in the lab—an old centrifuge is unlikely to be kept with its manual intact. Compiling a list of these manuals is important for both troubleshooting when something goes wrong as well as training individuals to use the machine. You don’t necessarily need to read cover-to-cover either; briefly reading the manual is a good way to assess how to use it properly. If the instructions are on Dux (shameless plug), even better!

Get trained on it

Training is the best way to learn how to use instrumentation properly. Remember, the easiest way to damage equipment is by using it improperly (everyone knows of someone who didn’t quite balance their tubes in the ultracentrifuge), and the most reliable way to avoid that is by training with experienced personnel. Don’t take training for granted either; if you’ve allocated time for it, aim to do a little experimental planning and troubleshooting, especially for machines like flow cytometers and mass spectrometers, which require many steps and adjustments to process samples.

Get your team trained on it

A frequent source of damaged equipment is scientists from outside your lab performing an experiment without the proper training. In academic labs, where equipment is often shared without physical borders, this kind of thing can happen regularly to centrifuges, balances, microscopes, and other high-end imaging and detection systems. It’s therefore a worthy investment to train not only your own lab’s personnel but to actively identify and train others who may want to use the instrumentation. This can help avoid disagreements and infighting later through preventing the unauthorized and improper use of the instrument by personnel working outside your lab.

Go digital

Digital instructions are the future, and we expect many products to covert to digital instruction manuals. Digital instructions are more durable and resistant to the elements than paper. The best part: no more headaches of where to store instruction manuals. Dux provides product consumers and those who need instruction manuals, a digital format to access product instructions. Sharing instructions is a breeze with Google Drive-like and YouTube-like sharing features. As always, Dux is free to access. Forever.

Refer to the instruction manual from time to time (if you kept it!)

It’s crucial to understand inspect your equipment and the products you use in your work and life. But most people throw instruction manuals away after they read them once. Sadly, that is terrible for the environment and costly for manufacturers. Dux is the all-in-one tool to create, share & follow digital instructions. Academic labs, wet labs & research labs love to share and centralize their lab protocols using Dux.