Subscribe to Newsletter
Business & Education Business, Sample Preparation, Professional Development

Top Five Considerations When Relocating Your Lab

1. Define your project plan

A well-defined project plan is essential – and you should identify any complications upfront. The plan should outline the scope of the project, identify key milestones, and assign responsibilities. It should also include a timeline for the project and a budget.

Choosing a relocation partner is often considered an afterthought; however, it is important to involve them as early in the process as possible. In many cases, they will be able to assist with pre-planning and any phasing requirements, while advising on the best way to continue scientific activity.

The initial planning phase usually includes a detailed and up-to-date asset list with service entitlements, a scope of work, an audit of your current laboratory/facility, and visits to your new facility (if available). An interim project timeline with defined milestones should also be included.

2. Asset de- and re-commission

An important part of any relocation is to consider what instrumentation needs to be uninstalled/reinstalled (along with any compliance qualifications) for the relocation. And that’s also why an up-to-date asset list is so important. Your relocation partner is central here; they can help identify which assets should be decommissioned and which can be uninstalled by end users (if applicable). This can add significant costs to the project, so understanding these requirements early can help aid procurement and the lab itself. Decommissioning and recommissioning can also add a large amount of time to the project, especially if it is the labs’ ambition to continue to run “as normal”' whilst the relocation is on-going.

If you are relocating a GxP facility, it’s also important to consider the change control procedures and the need for compliance qualifications both prior to the relocation and after the relocation. Again, this can add significant time and cost to the project.

3. Continue to meet work deadlines while relocating

Many companies have strict deadlines for science, and it isn’t always easy to stop everything so relocation can take place. Therefore, it’s important (albeit difficult far in advance) to plan what work needs to continue during the relocation period.

Again, a relocation partner can help you manage this aspect. Together, you can assess the program of work to understand what assets can be relocated immediately, and what assets potentially need to be kept running during the relocation. In many cases, it is necessary to phase different departments and sub-departments, moving at different times to enable various departments to remain active during the relocation.

4. Make sure you consider all your assets

During most relocations the lab manager/procurement lead initially thinks of the instrumentation, and little thought is given to other assets within the lab. For example, chemicals, consumables (which take up the majority of all under-bench storage) and temperature sensitive materials, such as liquid nitrogen.

It is essential to build this additional scope into your relocation plan to pick up any further considerations. For example, when you relocate chemicals, information (such as MSDS/COSHH paperwork) is required. Again, this can add significant time to the process, if the information is not readily available. One suggestion to help avoid this additional paperwork – and any time implications – is to “run down” the chemicals used at the old site, purchasing new stock at the new destination.

Packing and relocation of consumables can also add time to the project. On a positive note, this can be a great time to declutter and get rid of various consumables that have been “gathering dust” in cupboards for years.

5. The new destination

A new facility or lab is obviously one of the highlights of any relocation project. However, before end users and staff get excited about their new working environment, there is a great deal to consider at the new location.

  • Lab layout: as this environment is new to all, it’s important to plan exactly where the instrumentation is best situated in the laboratory. Think about whether the benches are suitable for the different equipment weights (think large centrifuges), whether there are enough facilities (for example, water, gasses, and power) where they are most needed. This will usually be planned during the construction phase, but it is surprising what details can be missed.
  • Site preparation: arrange for specialist engineers to survey your new site to check the facilities and identify any potential issues that might not have been previously considered when planning the new layout.
  • Access: can all of your equipment get into the building? For example, large fume hoods have to be transported via a lift, will they fit? Are there stairs that need to be taken into consideration for instruments and equipment to be carried up? Are the doorways big enough for the move? All of this can play a really important part in the logistical elements of the move and can add delays if not factored in early in the planning process. The site preparation helps identify any of these issues.
  • Temperature sensitive materials: ahead of arrival, ensure that the fridges, freezers, or even liquid nitrogen are ready and at temperature to receive the critical samples needing to be relocated.
  • Labeling: as the new environment will be unfamiliar to staff and third parties, it is necessary to take particular care to ensure everything is labeled correctly. I have seen failure here become an issue on many occasions; it can cause all sorts of problems and delays if the wrong equipment arrives and is installed in the wrong location.

Relocating a laboratory or facility can be a complex process, but with careful planning and attention to key factors, you can minimize stress and ensure a successful transition. Involving experts early, thorough planning, and considering all aspects of your new lab, will contribute to a successful relocation experience.

Credit: Images for collage sourced from Adobe Stock and

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Analytical Scientist and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

About the Author
Tom Wickstead

Lab Product Specialist at Agilent Technologies, [email protected]

Register to The Analytical Scientist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Analytical Scientist magazine