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Study Notes: Documentation and Communication

There are a number of important factors to consider when a piece of equipment is considered unserviceable.

1. Communication in the laboratory

You need to let other staff members know that the equipment is unserviceable and that it should not be used. This is achieved by:

  • filling in the Service Log with full details of the problem
  • putting an unserviceable tag on the piece of equipment and possibly moving it to a storage area (quarantining the equipment)
  • informing your supervisor and/or other staff members verbally of the problem
  • discussing the problem at the weekly staff meeting
  • circulating an intra-laboratory memorandum.

You may also need to check with your supervisor or the laboratory manager for authorisation to initiate repairs.

2. Communication with the manufacturer

You will need to contact the manufacturer or distributor and arrange for them to repair the microscope either on-site or off-site. How do you determine who the manufacturer/distributor of the equipment is if the equipment is old and has been in the laboratory for years? Any of the following approaches will be useful.

  • Check for labels on the equipment itself
  • Check the Service Log for details
  • Check with other laboratory staff or your supervisor
  • Check with the accounts department - they may have paid an invoice for service
  • Check with service companies who provide generic servicing for a range of laboratory equipment, they may be able to help. They will be listed in the telephone directory.

The next step is to communicate with the repairer. This is achieved by following the guidelines below.

  • In the first instance, by telephoning the repairer and talking with the service department.
  • Before making this phone call be sure you know:
    • The make, model and serial number of the equipment
    • When it was purchased
    • Warranty details (if applicable)
    • Service details (from service log)
    • Details of the problem
    • What you have tried to do to rectify the problem. For instance, ‘we changed the fuse and the globe but there was still no light’.
    • What you want done to rectify the problem. For instance, ‘have your serviceman call in this week to assess repairs and provide me with a quote’.
  • You may need to follow this call up with an email or written documentation
  • You may need to record the request for maintenance in your enterprise system.

3. Post Repair Period

You will need to monitor the repair process and:

  • liaise with the manufacturer over repair details, warranty details and any costs involved
  • determine return date and arrange for return of equipment
  • receive the equipment back into the laboratory
  • update service log details
  • carry out pre-use and safety checks
  • place equipment back into service ensuring that any unserviceable tags have been removed
  • advise all laboratory and other staff (for instance accounts payable) that the equipment has now been returned and is serviceable again
  • send any documentation to the appropriate department.

You have now managed the process of arranging for the repair of a piece of faulty equipment by an outside party.

4. Using Records as an Historical Account

The service log records are a vital tool for troubleshooting, warranty claims, maintenance of regular servicing, and in some circumstances achieving and maintaining accreditation or certification by an outside body (for instance ISO19025). The use of service records as an historical account is vital for the continued existence of your laboratory.

You should ensure that:

  • records are complete and kept fully up-to-date
  • records are legible
  • all staff are made aware of the necessity for accurate records and know how to fill them out correctly
  • records are checked against maintenance schedules to ensure that all routine servicing and maintenance is carried out
  • records are stored in a safe and secure manner.


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