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Resource Management

Never Underestimate the Potential of a Vacuum Pump

Courtesy: Lab Manager Magazine
Suppose you could buy something for your lab that would create a cleaner, quieter working environment, shorten process times while protecting samples, reduce service headaches and expenses, make your scientists happier and more productive, cost only about as much as a decent microscope, and pay for itself in less than a year. Would you be interested? Of course you would, until you learn that the product is a…vacuum pump!

WAIT! DON’T GO AWAY!

Most lab managers would agree that the “excitement quotient” of a vacuum pump is about the same as a water heater for your home. If all goes well, it sits there doing its job for years on end. You don’t want to think about it until it fails, and then you want to replace it as quickly and inexpensively as possible, and get on to more productive uses of your time. Taking a little time to get the right vacuum pump, however, can make all of the contributions to lab productivity mentioned earlier. Here’s how.

VACUUM “MAKES IT HAPPEN”

Vacuum is what “makes it happen” in all sorts of ways in the laboratory, by powering filtration, degassing, evaporation, separation, and concentration operations. When you don’t have the right vacuum levels, filtration or degassing is either too slow or your filtrate/mobile phase boils. When you’re evaporating, poor vacuum control results in slow evaporation or violent boiling, causing sample loss or cross-contamination. Separation of solvent mixtures is much less effective when vacuum levels don’t match vapor pressures. Furthermore, vacuum allows you to minimize the amount of heat you use when evaporating reagents, allowing you to concentrate heat-sensitive compounds without damage.

CLEANER, QUIETER WORK ENVIRONMENT

Many labs still rely on ancient oil-sealed rotary vane vacuum pumps for lab vacuum. Some of these pumps — like that belt-driven monster that’s so common — represent 70-year old technology. 70 years! They operate at a vacuum that is three orders of magnitude more than needed for common lab applications like evaporators, concentrators, or gel dryers. To get these pumps to operate at proper vacuum levels, they must be “dumbed-down” by introducing air that weakens the vacuum, but creates noise and oil mist as it blows through the pump. In contrast, oil-free vacuum pumps are specified to vacuum levels needed by typical lab applications. There’s no oil to change or toxic waste oil to dispose of, and no oil to blow out into a smelly, chemical-contaminated mist that pollutes lab air and deposits a slippery sheen on benchtops and floors. These diaphragm pumps eliminate the roar of air by delivering the needed vacuum by design. The result is a cleaner, quieter work environment powered by a pump that usually takes up a lot less space as well.

HAPPIER, PRODUCTIVE SCIENTISTS

What scientist, after years of schooling in his or her discipline, wants to spend time serving as a mechanical controller for an archaic piece of equipment? Isn’t that what electronics are for? Don’t we set temperature with a thermostat and rely on the electronics to maintain the desired conditions? Why do many labs still rely on the oversight of vacuum processes by highly skilled scientists instead of relying on controls? Isn’t there a better use for that scientist’s intelligence and training than turning a pump on and off to approximate conditions that could be better maintained automatically?

The scientific mind is, by far, the most valuable and costly resource in a laboratory. Does it make sense to usea resource that costs, say, $60,000 a year, rather than purchasing vacuum pump controls that may cost a few thousand dollars and serve reliably for ten or twenty years or more? In a word, “No,” yet lab managers make this decision routinely because vacuum pumps seem like such a mundane utility that their possible contribution to the work environment is often overlooked.

SHORTER PROCESS TIMES WHILE PROTECTING SAMPLES

Oil-free pumps with electronic controls can significantly shorten process times by keeping application conditions close to optimum. Traditional two-point technology (operating like a thermostat, with a set point and plus or minus tolerances) relies on a programmed setpoint or ramp that defines the desired conditions based on prior testing. Repeat runs are managed by the electronics, while the scientist attends to other pressing matters. In the most advanced control systems available, the vacuum system detects the changing vapor conditions of the application, and adjusts its own operation continuously to momentary optimum vacuum levels without test runs and ramp programming. Such controllers can achieve 30% shorter application times than even a programmed, two-point controller, while limiting bumping and boil-overs. Electronically controlled systems are clearly more expensive than uncontrolled vacuum, but they significantly accelerate processes even as they free staff for more productive work than manual pump oversight.

REDUCED SERVICE EXPENSE

Oil-sealed pumps require regular oil changes — sometimes weekly or monthly — because process vapors are in direct contact with pump oil. Contamination of the oil reduces its lubricating and sealing properties, and can add corrosive properties, so failure to change oil — a nasty job — can lead to pump failure, just as in a car engine. To protect the oil, oil-sealed-pump manufacturers recommend cold-traps to capture most process vapors before they reach the pump. Cold traps require dry ice or liquid nitrogen, or expensive, bulky, energyintensive chillers. Besides the inconvenience of feeding dry ice traps, daily dry ice costs can equal the cost of a rotary vane pump in the first year, and keep on bleeding budgets for years to come. A well-designed, oil-free laboratory vacuum pump can have a typical service interval of as much as 10,000 to 15,000 hours, depending on pump design and manufacturer.

For a pump operated 20 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, that works out to be ten to fifteen years without oil changes, rebuilds, service interruption, or other maintenance. Besides eliminating the need for oil-changes, some designs feature fluoropolymer flowpaths that eliminate the need for cold-traps in most applications. With such pumps, dry ice or liquid nitrogen savings alone will normally recoup in the first year of service any premium paid for an oil-free, fluoropolymer- flowpath pump compared with an oil-sealed rotary vane pump. The convenience and service savings just go on and on for years.

BUT IS IT EXPENSIVE?

For all these reasons, it should be obvious that you should never use an oil-pump when an oil-free pump can do the job. (Certain applications, like freeze-dryers, need the deeper vacuum levels that only a rotary vane pump can deliver.) A good, oil-free diaphragm vacuum pump costs a little more than a rotary vane pump, and a full vacuum system with a chemical-resistant flowpath, electronic control, and built-in solvent capture may cost a few thousand dollars. So for about the cost of a decent scientific microscope, you can equip your lab with vacuum technology that is clean, quiet, costeffective, and productivity-enhancing.

Modern vacuum control frees your scientists for productive use of their training and intelligence, enriching their jobs and eliminating tedious oversight of applications. Oil-free vacuum can save enough in service costs and vapor-capture consumables in a year or two to pay for the pump, bringing all of these advantages — for free — to the lab manager who can overcome the temptation to doze off at the mere mention of the mundane little vacuum pump.

When to use Polarized Light Microscope?

“Seeing Red” may imply that someone is very angry, but for someone using polarized light microscopy (PLM), the ability to see red is important to correctly identify many materials. As an undergraduate geology student, one of the most interesting courses I took was optical mineralogy. However, since I have a subtle form of colorblindness, this course was more challenging for me than it was for my classmates. By using a polarized light microscope, it is possible to determine chemical composition and crystallographic information about an unknown sample that can provide an accurate identification of that unknown material. PLM is used routinely for the analysis of possible asbestos-containing materials. However, most of the phenomena observed with a polarized light microscope are dependent on the user’s ability to accurately observe subtle color differences. This fact makes the use of this powerful tool difficult for individuals, such as myself, with colorblindness. Fortunately, I was able to find ways to compensate for my color vision problems and continue to use PLM for the identification and characterization of many different types of materials.

Colorblindness, or more accurately, color vision confusion, is a condition that affects a person’s ability to correctly perceive color. Color vision confusion is typically an inherited genetic defect that affects the sensitivity of the retina to various colors of light. It is most common in men (about 10% of all men are colorblind) but about 0.5% of women are colorblind also. The degree of colorblindness is highly variable and ranges from subtle color confusion in some, to others who see the world in only shades of gray. Color vision originates at the retina. Cells in the retina, called cones, are sensitive to specific wavelengths of light. When these cells absorb photons of a specific wavelength, chemical reactions occur and produce a signal that is sent to the brain via the optic nerve. The brain processes that signal and we “see” a color. People with normal color vision have three types of cones that are sensitive to long (red), medium (green), and short (blue) wavelengths of light. People with abnormal color vision also have cones; however, one or more of these types of cones may be insensitive to a specific wavelength, or may have a sensitivity that is shifted away from the normal ranges of sensitivities. As an example, an individual may lack cones that are sensitive to medium (green) wavelengths. This person would perceive red and green to be the same color. Another individual may have cones that are sensitive to medium wavelengths, but the peak sensitivity of these cones may be shifted to either longer or shorter wavelengths. If a person with normal color vision looks at something that is green, the individual with the color vision abnormality described above may see that green object as either more brown or yellow depending on which way the peak sensitivity of the medium wavelength sensitive cones was shifted. There are also individuals who lack any ability to perceive color and are truly colorblind.

Many properties observed using PLM are very dependent on color. The ability to correctly identify the colors observed while examining a sample with PLM is extremely important. Dispersion staining is a technique used to determine the refractive index of a material based on the color that appears when illuminated in a very specific manner. Very slight differences in color can translate into significant differences in refractive index (Figure 1). This is important because slight changes in chemical composition can cause significant changes in refractive index. Fortunately, it is possible with good training, quality reference samples, and plenty of experience for a colorblind microscopist to learn how to compensate for this handicap and accurately determine the refractive index of a material using this technique.

Observing interference colors of minerals using PLM is also highly dependent on the ability to observe color. Using various accessories routinely used with the PLM, a microscopist can determine certain optical properties. The same information can be determined using two different accessories: one that produces bright colors (Figure 2) and one that produces a different set of colors that may be more easily recognized by an individual with color vision confusion. By knowing how to use these accessories a colorblind microscopist can adapt to their specific color vision problems. There are also several different illumination techniques, such as oblique illumination, that can produce different color effects that may help a microscopist better determine various properties of an unknown sample.

Looking back, I believe I would not have come out of that optical mineralogy course with the same understanding of the phenomena I was observing had I had normal color vision. By having to find valid ways to compensate for my color vision, I needed to study and understand the physics behind what I was seeing. Color perception is also important in other microscopy techniques, such as fluorescence microscopy. Through years of experience, we have become keenly aware of the importance how color is perceived, and the need for instruction on the proper use of a wide variety of microscopy techniques.

How to Make Maximum use of the Equipments?

Although of central importance to lab operations, capital assets are typically managed as a series of ad hoc activities drawing extra attention only when circumstances bring issues to the forefront. Critical elements such as instrument maintenance are certainly systematized and actively managed, but few managers have considered asset management as an integrated function and some don’t appreciate the full scope of this responsibility. As a result, management styles tend to be reactive and piecemeal which implies that this may be a fertile area to explore for improvement opportunities. Asset management is not a familiar term within the context of laboratory operations. Therefore, the first step toward improvement is to establish boundaries and limits on the elements included in thefunction with at least a general explanation of the management roles encompassed. A little reflection on the performance expectations for lab managers might suggest that the following elements could reasonably be included in asset management:

Capital Planning

These are familiar functions within the realm of responsibility of laboratory managers but are rarely considered as part of the same performance dimension. It is instructive to examine the management expectations that go with each of these functions to gain an appreciation for the scope of the responsibility and to identify areas where new improvement opportunities might lie.

CAPITAL PLANNING

Capital planning management involves three activities — capacity management, re-deployment strategy, and retirement/obsolescence decisions.

Capacity management refers to the process of assignment and scheduling of work to take full advantage of each instrument so that the lab realizes the maximum benefit from its assets. This includes an ancillary responsibility for monitoring usage rates as a feed into the capital cycle for timing the introduction of additional capacity when needed. Since analyst labor is usually the limiting resource determining utilization rates, capacity optimization is generally addressed in the human resource and workflow management issues that dominate a lab manager’s attention.

However, the connection into the capital cycle is more loosely managed which can result in operational bottlenecks if staff members fail to inform the manager until instrument limits are reached. Without active monitoring, the lab manager might not have sufficient time to introduce an additional instrument into the capital cycle or might lack appropriate data for economic justification to shepherd the request through the approval process.

In addition to planning for capacity expansion, effective management identifies under-utilized assets for redeployment to other labs or other parts of the organization where they can derive greater value for the business. In cases where redeployment is not an option, the strategy might be to lower the cost of ownership by adjusting maintenance schedules to more closely match the utilization level. That is, if the equipment is underutilized, preventive maintenance is likely performed more frequently than necessary so that the interval between services can be lengthened to save labor and material costs. Also, under-utilized equipment might signal an outsourcing opportunity. The last portion of capital planning is management of equipment obsolescence and retirement. There are several critical factors to monitor to guide these decisions — condition of the equipment, timing of the capital cycle, state of the technological, criticality of the equipment, and economic cycle.

Rising maintenance costs foretell the end of the useful life of an instrument as the increased cost of ownership begins to exceed its benefit. Managers must be alerted at the appropriate time in order to enter replacement equipment into the capital cycle so that approved budget is available before the equipment fails. Timing is especially important for critical equipment since the replacement cycle can take over a year from start to finish. The manager must also be aware of technological advances that might warrant replacement before the end of the useful life of the equipment. For example, some improvements in sensitivity or automation yield such significant increases in productivity that it is more cost effective to dispose of even partially depreciated fully useable equipment than to forego the new technologies. And, of course, the phase of the economic cycle for the particular industry determines availability of capital funds which must be factored into capital planning management.

ACQUISITION

Some lab managers end their involvement in the capital cycle by delegating acquisition to the scientists once they obtain the financing approval. However, managers have a fiduciary responsibility to see that the appropriated funds are used wisely and in accordance with business goals. This requires some oversight of the actual buying cycle and is not a trivial task. Due diligence in purchasing requires an investment in time and resources to manage risk and obtain the most value for the money. The elements of the capital buying cycle have been described in detail by Klink. 1,2 Many chemists have preconceived ideas or preferences for specific brands of instruments and will skip the thorough analysis embodied in the buying cycle if permitted. Wise asset management asks that decisions pass through the rigor of the entire process to confirm that the preferred instrument is indeed the best choice to bring the organization the most benefit for its investment. The process also provides the best opportunity to embed service options such as guaranteed response times or software upgrades at the point where these concessions are more likely to be granted bythe vendors. Experience has shown that competitive market comparisons can often lower the capital investment.

MAINTENANCE

Maintenance is the most familiar of the asset management tasks and typically is the function that receives the most attention from the lab manager. The two areas of responsibility are preventative maintenance aimed at preserving function of the asset and repair aimed at restoring function. As one of the most costly items in the typical laboratory budget, this function has received some attention so that more advanced models have evolved to streamline management and introduce more efficient operations. The management philosophies surrounding laboratory maintenance have already been described in some detail3 so that the specifics will not be rehashed here. Suffice it to say that considerable opportunities for improved productivity and efficiency remain for most lab managers and this remains a fertile area for investigation by those labs facing cost reduction mandates.

QUALITY

The laboratory quality system encompasses virtually all aspects of operations and imposes responsibility for execution directly on management. Naturally, these responsibilities touch asset management, primarily in two areas — validation and calibration. The first responsibility, validation, means that each asset must be proven to be fit for its intended purpose by objective evidence. This responsibility goes beyond merely verifying that instruments meet manufacturer’s specifications as is done during the buying cycle but requires the additional step of proving capability of delivering data at the precision required for each method assigned to the instrument. This can range from a relatively simple procedure in unregulated basic chemical or petrochemical labs to a very complex task requiring special expertise for regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals. The second quality element, calibration, falls into the core competency of a test laboratory so that virtually all have well developed reliable systems. hile oversight responsibility is clearly within the management sphere, failures in this area are so intolerable that accountability is shared by the entire staff. Issues typically arise only when external contractors are used and there are no management controls in place to insure that the work is done properly. Simply requiring certificates or other documentation is no guarantee that calibrations are actually performed correctly — good asset management practice requires performance based acceptance criteria based on replication of results for standard reference or monitor samples.

REGULATORY/ACCREDITATION

Regulatory requirements touch asset management primarily through the documentation system. Compliance requires rigorous recording of all activities associated with use and maintenance of quality critical assets as well as QC data proving instrument performance. Thus, management of assets requires the establishment of a systematic method for collecting required information plus periodic audits to insure that the system is being properly used and maintained by the staff.

Accreditation requirements impose an additional bonus on calibration and maintenance systems for assets that fall within the scope of the quality system. For example, the laboratory may be required to use only accredited vendors for servicing these assets which limits choices, raises costs, and imposes additional documentation requirements. Even when services are performed by internal personnel, there are additional requirements such as construction of uncertainty budgets, traceability of standards, and proof of the competency of the technician. While the management bureaucracy surrounding the regulatory and accreditation requirements associated with each asset is often regarded as a nuisance, it can become even more time consuming and expensive when it is not seriously followed.

OPERATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY

The techniques for extracting maximum value from assets are embodied in “lean” concepts4 and require managing human and capital assets in concert. The operators and equipment are viewed as a single system that seeks to optimize performance by elimination of waste. Location of assets in a manner that minimizes operator movement and provides easy access to logistical support is a key concept of this approach. Thus, part of asset management is matching physical location with assigned job responsibilities so that all equipment for a specific job is conveniently grouped near the appropriate supply lines to minimize technician transit time between tasks. This takes skill and ingenuity to organize the work and is typically an on-going activity since most labs are

dynamic organizations experiencing frequent change.

How To Effectively Use Quarternary Ammonium Solutions?

Courtesy: www.labmanagermagazine.com

When used according to label directions, quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are an effective means of eradicating microorganisms listed on the label. They are generally odorless, colorless, nonirritating, deodorizing, have some detergent action, and are good disinfectants. The mode of action of quaternary ammonium products appears to be a denaturant and physically disrupts protein or lipid structures.1 Disinfection refers to the elimination of specific pathogens. The EPA requires that disinfectants must kill or render totally ineffective all of the microorganisms listed on a disinfectant product label. The EPA reviews all efficacy data and must approve it prior to product launch and assignment of the EPA registration number. Product labels must list the EPA registration number, the microorganisms that the product kills, safe use information, and the proper dilution for efficacy. It is imperative that the disinfectants are used in accordance with all label directions and recommendations to ensure that the product is performing acceptably. In disinfection, efficacy is a critical measure. Efficacy is the ability to produce the desired results absolutely. When dealing with the quaternary ammonium products, the strength of the product is measured as proper dilution/parts per million (ppm).

WARNING SIGN

We first noted a potential problem when called to a facility to investigate a marked, rapid, and pronounced decrease in efficacy of prepared quaternary ammonium solutions. The facility was using paper toweling saturated with prepared quaternary ammonium2 to sanitize their biological safety cabinets.

Each room in the facility had standard quat mixing stations. These stations had been calibrated for appropriate delivery of the mixed product. The units were checked with a quaternary ammonium test kit4 and verified for accurate dilutions. The mixed quaternary ammonium solution was then placed in lidded containers with paper toweling or paper wipes. The solution completely covered the stack of paper wipes and saturated them. Though the solution from the mixing station was verified to be the correct strength, it was noted that the solution in the containers degraded rapidly — dropping from 800 ppm to less than 200 ppm within two minutes. There was a clear problem with the solution after it was put in the container.

ANALYSIS/FINDINGS

It is a common practice in many facilities to place paper towels or wipes in a container and soak the contents with a disinfecting solution. It is a time-saving step that puts the wipe and solution within easy reach. It appeared that the paper towels were a potential culprit. This looked even more likely when a dramatic drop in ppm was also duplicated with common, office supply store brand paper towels.

We proceeded to test various paper products against a standard, prepared quaternary ammonium solution in a controlled benchtop setting. We tested for ppm overtime as well as changes in pH. The results demonstrated that the paper towel reduced the parts per million of the quat solution. Now that the problem had been identified, the question remained — what to look for in a paper wipe? Telephone consultation with Kimberly Clark scientists confirmed that certain paper products (wipes, towels, etc.), when combined with quaternary ammonium solution, will inactive the quaternary ammonium solution swiftly.

REMEDY

From the results in the lab animal facility and at the bench, common paper toweling products may not be appropriate with quat solutions and may decrease efficacy. Facilities must verify that the wipes chosen for these tasks are compatible with the disinfectants used in-house. This can be easily accomplished by verifying the selection of a proper wipe when ordering from the supplier or by contacting the wipe manufacturer directly. Kimberly Clark recommended a product5 that is suitable for use with quat solutions. When in doubt, facilities may also use quaternary ammonium test kits to check the quaternary ammonium dilutions.

Know About the Different Types of Spectrophotometer

Courtesy: www.articlesnatch.com

Spectrophotometry quantifiably measures the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The spectrophotometer is extremely helpful as it measures the intensity of a wavelength (color of light), a measurement used regularly in physics, biology and biochemistry. The spectrophotometer is generally used to quantify light absorption but can also be used to measure diffuse or specular reflectance. The most common and basic spectrophotometers only measure visible and UV ray, but specifically designed machines measure infrared, gamma and X-rays.

The single beam spectrophotometer measures relative light intensity before and after a sample is used, while a double beam spectrophotometer dually compares a reference sample to a testable unknown sample. The convenience of a double beam unit is not always beneficial in terms of results, as the single beam will generally yield more accurate and detailed readings. The utilization of a monochromator allows you to set a wavelength for measurement.

Within the monochromator is the presence of a diffraction grating that splits the lights into different directions (in a form of a rainbow). This light is then sent through the unknown sample allowing a quantifiable observation to be made. Some spectrophotometers use a Fourier transform method that acquires the spectral reading much faster.

Ultraviolet-visible spectrometry utilizes visible light between 400-700 nanometers and has two separate mechanisms based on the architecture of the light source as well as the observer and interior of the measurement chamber. In the lab this setup is applied to measure components in a compound or solution. Spectroradiometers can then convert the light of transmission or reflection to yield a number. If the concentration of the components is high, more light will be absorbed, if it is low, less light will be absorbed. Thus, absorbency is proportional to concentration in a linear fashion.

Infrared spectrophotometry is much more technical both in measurement and in setup. Photosensors must be chosen in accordance to differentiating spectrums - and sometimes they are not always available. Also, infrared light is always translated into thermal radiation (the emission of heat) making it difficult to quantify. Optical challenges such as materials that end up absorbing the infrared (such as glass and plastic) only further the difficulty of applying the spectrophotometer.

Scientifically, the spectrophotometer can identify and measure complex molecules in a solution. They are even able to detect early signs of diseases such as cancer. This device, however, is not just confined to the laboratory. Many industries have uses for it, such as the ink manufacturers, printing companies and textile vendors who use spectrophotometric readings to develop their products.

In general, this tool has been an extremely helpful development to both scientists as well as manufacturers. The design is quite basic despite that complexity of its parts, but the uses are many.

Disposition of Substances

The following procedures are to be completed before the lab manager leaves the University or transfers to a different laboratory.

CHEMICALS

CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES

GAS CYLINDERS

ANIMAL AND HUMAN TISSUE

Types of Equipment

Special Purpose Equipment is equipment used only for research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities.

General Purpose Equipment is equipment, the use of which is not limited only to research, medical, scientific, or other technical activities. Examples of general purpose equipment include office equipment and furnishings, reproduction and printing equipment and motor vehicles.

Similar to the rules for the direct charging of administra­tive expenses, a parallel requirement for adequate budget justification exists whenever “general purpose” equipment is charged to a project. Federal regulations stipulate that the cost of multi-use equipment used for general pur­poses should not be direct-charged to sponsored projects. Multi-use general purpose equipment should be purchased using unrestricted funds. If general purpose equipment is necessary for the performance of the sponsored project, the budget justification should include detailed information linking the equipment acquisition to the technical work of the project.

Fabricated Equipment - Many research projects include the design, development and building of equipment that is not available commercially. Equipment that cannot be purchased “off the shelf”, and is built by the research team, is fabricated equipment. (There are instances where the whole research project is the fabrication of equipment.)

Characteristics of Fabricated Equipment

For example: The act of putting together a CPU, monitor, and keyboard does not meet the definition of a fabrication, since the computer system is not unique.

Establishing a Fabricated Equipment Cost Object

Fabricated equipment costs are held in a special child cost object until the completion of the fabrication. To establish a fabricated equipment cost object, the research admin­istrator provides the Property Office with the following information:

Note that no F&A is charged to fabricated equipment cost objects since the item will ultimately be classified as capital equipment. However, fabrications that extend beyond their estimated completion dates with no significant prog­ress toward completion will be disallowed and the child cost object terminated. All costs will revert to the parent cost object and F&A will be assessed accordingly.

The Property Office website contains additional important information on the request, management and closeout of fabricated equipment cost object.

Purchasing an Equipment

Prior to purchasing any equipment for a sponsored project the following questions should be asked:

Equipment that is purchased on a sponsored project must be necessary for the performance of the project and be consistent with Company/University Policy, the requirements of the sponsor and the terms and conditions of the award to which the equipment will be charged.

When it is anticipated that the performance of a sponsored project will require acquisition of equipment, the PI should review the program announce­ment, solicitation, sponsor’s policy, etc. to ensure that the equipment is allowed on the project prior to submitting the proposal. In some situations the sponsor will require a detailed listing and written justification for all equipment purchases.

Prior to making any equipment purchases, the PI should review the terms and condi­tions of the Notice of Award to make sure that there are not any sponsor provisions that precludes the equipment purchase without sponsor approval. Here are a few examples of sponsor clauses regarding equipment purchases:

Is the equipment purchase reasonable? The purchase of equipment must be reasonable with re­spect to timing and cost. If equipment is necessary for the performance of a project, it is anticipated that the equip­ment will ordinarily be purchased in the initial stages of the project, not at the end of the project. The purchase of equipment should also be reasonable with respect to cost. While it may be impossible to precisely budget for the acquisition cost of equipment at the time the proposal is submitted, under normal circumstances the actual pur­chase price of equipment should approximate the amount in the approved award budget.

It is important for the PI to review the sponsor policy and terms and conditions of the award before using funds approved for equipment purchases for other purposes, or to use other award funds to purchase equipment. Sponsor policies and award terms and conditions vary in the amount of flexibility that the PI has in re-budgeting award funds between various cost categories.

Use of Equipment During and After the Period of Project Performance: PI should review the sponsor policy and award terms and conditions to determine what restrictions, if any, exist for the use of equipment. The pri­mary use of equipment purchased on a federally sponsored project should be for the performance of that sponsored project. However, federal regulations include a “hierarchy of use” that permits the equipment to be used for other federal projects; first on other projects funded by the agency that paid for the equipment and next on projects funded by other federal agencies.

1 Important Criteria for Efficient Resource Management

The process of using a company's resources in the most efficient way possible. These resources can include tangible resources such as goods and equipment, financial resources, and labor resources such as employees. Resource management can include ideas such as making sure one has enough physical resources for one's business, but not an overabundance so that products won't get used, or making sure that people are assigned to tasks that will keep them busy and not have too much downtime.

It is increasingly recognized that equipment management goes far beyond that of a person simply being able to operate the equipment.

Equipment management also requires a specific person designated to deal with all aspects of equipment management.

A Selection Criteria Check List will assist in purchasing the most appropriate piece of equipment to meet the laboratories needs, e.g. Cost, Manufacturer and Support, Availability, Model.

Lets the criteria of SELECTION in detail