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The Lab Equipment Schedule

How to create a useful Lab Equipment Schedule that sets your lab renovation project up for success.

A good equipment schedule (or lack thereof) can make or break your lab project. It can be very costly and time consuming to have to squeeze in some forgotten piece of equipment, find out too late that the required utilities are not in the right locations, the load is too heavy or that lab equipment that makes vibration will be too close to a vibration sensitive area. How do you avoid problems like this? One of the best ways is by having a detailed list of all equipment and their location both current and planned.

What is it?

The equipment schedule is a central document, typically a spreadsheet, that is an inventory of every piece of lab equipment, both the ones currently in use and all new ones planned.  It also catalogs necessary considerations like utilities requirements, electrical connections, size and weigh load, vibration sensitivity, control requirements, special ventilation requirements, etc.

Why is it important?

The equipment schedule is referenced throughout the life of the project: from the planning, through design and construction phases. It is the point of reference to ensure that all necessary equipment has a home in the new lab, and that the new location has the appropriate space as well as all utility requirements are in place. If you are building out a new lab or renovating an existing one, the Lab Equipment schedule will be the Basis Of Design.

When is it created?

It’s important to create the Equipment Schedule at the very beginning of the project and keep it updated with changes, especially any new equipment requirements. The Equipment Schedule will be a working document not only throughout the planning, budgeting, design and construction, but even post-move in.

The Equipment Schedule is created by and owned by the lab manager.  However, it is used by several outside team members throughout the life of the project, including the architect, engineer and construction manager.  Several people will need to be engaged in the maintenance of this document, including lab staff, procurement, asset management, IT and EH&S

One person- the lab manager – should be the keeper of all changes and must update the matrix regularly. Some Best Practices to keep in mind when creating your Lab Equipment Schedule:

  • Maintain good communications will all lab staff who are knowledgeable about the equipment, how it is used and what is required.
  • Use the equipment schedule when reviewing drawings issued during the design process, to check details like: mounting height, utilities placements, weight load limits etc.
  • The Architects use the Lab Equipment Schedule to insure all the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) specs are coordinated.
  • Make sure the equipment list is being reviewed with EHS early in the design process.
  • Ascertain which equipment might need things like dedicated exhaust to the roof.
  • Determine what equipment needs plumbing and what types of drains. For instance, MassSpecs will need 4” solvent waste.
  • Identify any of the equipment that might have weight load considerations or those which might need vibration control or shielding.
  • Don’t forget about lab support spaces, storage requirements and following lab safety protocols.

Make sure to coordinate with your architect and design team for any changes to the Lab Equipment Schedule.  Any changes made after the issuance of construction documents will likely be change orders, which might have a cost and schedule impact during construction.

What kind of information is included in the Equipment Schedule?

The Equipment Schedule will be an inventory of all equipment, both current and planned for and should include a full description:

  • manufacturer
  • model number
  • serial number
  • asset tag number*
  • locations – both where the piece is now and where it will go in the future, including room and bench numbers, etc.
  • vendor service contract
  • any special permit requirements
  • weight and size
  • department
  • any other pertinent information such as vibration control, HVAC requirements, special handling considerations, gases or chemicals used and/or stored etc.

*Some facilities will have an equipment group who are in charge of all equipment asset tags, seek their input early on so efforts aren’t duplicated, and everyone is on the same page throughout the project.

Some things to keep in mind:

Early on determine if services are needed from specific vendors to relocate or commission/certify the equipment. These are separate costs and you want to make sure this is included in the budget early on.

In addition to creating your Lab Equipment Schedule, create a list of all chemicals, solvents, gases and biologics that are being used. It’s important to understand the quantities of these and how they are used in the lab, as well as the requirements for how they are stored and disposed of.  Some buildings have restrictions on quantities of chemicals that can be used or stored on the premises. Your design team, building owner/landlord, or EHS team can help you understand these constraints.

Having this Lab Equipment Schedule along with all of the vendor requirements will allow you to move into your new lab project safely while ensuring the final design meets you needs.