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Study Notes: Maintenance Procedures


Maintenance procedures vary between different classes of equipment. For instance there is no maintenance required for a mercury bulb thermometer, apart from periodic calibration by an authorised agency, but there is a relatively high requirement for maintenance to ensure the continued functioning of a High Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC).

Maintenance procedures are usually sourced from the following:

  • the experience of senior laboratory staff
  • laboratory generated SOPs
  • manufacturer’s manuals accompanying the equipment
  • outside accreditation or registration authorities
  • published scientific papers
  • internet-based materials.

Whatever the source, the maintenance procedures are usually formalised into an SOP if one does not exist for a new piece of equipment or modified from an existing SOP for updated equipment.

SOPs are often contained in a Methods Manual or a similar folder. The use of such SOPs for maintenance is supported by a system to train appropriate staff in maintenance procedures and to record all details of maintenance and the associated calibration of equipment after routine maintenance. Often two ‘record’ documents are used, although sometimes these are combined, called the:

  • Maintenance Log
  • Calibration Log.

The ethos behind maintenance procedures is that the following always occurs:

  • all staff are trained in the importance of routine maintenance
  • correct maintenance is carried out by staff authorised and competent to perform this maintenance
  • maintenance is carried out in a timely manner
  • such maintenance is recorded for future reference
  • the results of the maintenance are passed on to other staff members when nessessary
  • maintenance that cannot be carried out in-house is passed to authorised service personnel from outside agencies.

To summarise: Routine maintenance ensures the continued functioning of laboratory equipment and is the foundation of accurate and reliable results.

 

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