Science With Purpose

Top 3 Ways to Make Your Lab More Sustainable

April 17, 2023
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Sustainability is on the minds of business leaders and consumers more than ever. And growing numbers of organizations are adding sustainable policies and practices to their solutions and services, minimizing waste and environmental impact. They’re reducing carbon emissions, using more renewable energies, and increasing efforts to move toward circular economies. There’s no shortage of approaches companies can take to create more sustainable practices.

Here are the top three ways any lab can make progress toward sustainability.

Think Circular Economy

The concept of the circular economy involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible. When it comes to your lab, better utilizing your existing equipment is key. There are a few ways to do this:

1. Know what assets you have.

Ensuring you have an accurate account of your asset inventory is an essential place to start. Utilizing an electronic records system to track lab assets is the best practice — and no, Excel is not an electronic records system! It’s not uncommon for instruments to move to new locations, laptops to be placed in drawers, and the like. While this may seem like a small issue, at scale this can cause equipment to be underutilized, lost, overused, and a variety of other inefficiencies. Becoming more sustainable means less waste, so ensuring your lab is using what it has, whether with instrumentation or service contracts, is key.

One way to improve your visibility into asset inventory is radio frequency identification (RFID). RFID systems consist of four main elements: the RFID tags (placed on each piece of equipment or instrumentation), the RFID reader, the antennas, and the computer network used to connect the readers. Regular scans give you access to real-time data about asset locations in the lab. This has many benefits, all tying back to increasing efficiency and accuracy by:

  • Eliminating manual data collection, analysis, and reporting for lab and assets
  • Reducing manual errors and streamlining compliance reporting
  • Providing accurate, up-to-date asset location information
  • Improving inventory accuracy/decreasing instrument misplacement
  • Increasing service efficiency
  • Reducing time and resources to complete inventories
  • Increasing inventory throughput – many tags can be read at once
  • Improving visibility to asset chain of custody
  • Increasing ability to analyze the correlation of asset movement and service history
  • Reducing maintenance, insurance, and depreciation costs for missing equipment

2. Track asset utilization.

Building on your asset location strategy, asset utilization helps you track your equipment and instrument data, which will help you gain a better understanding of what’s being under- or overutilized. This can help your lab to make better decisions when it comes to investing in new equipment and utilizing the equipment you already have. Plus, your asset utilization strategy can improve your decision making throughout the capital equipment lifecycle and while planning for ongoing maintenance. This ensures you have a leaner and maximized approach to:

  • Capital expenditure
  • Lab floorspace optimization
  • Maintenance plan optimization

Having the right technology and tools in place can make tracking your equipment’s utilization easy and painless, allowing you to collect instrument-utilization, injection-throughput, and service data from laboratory instruments across the enterprise, quickly turning that data into insights. Most laboratory service providers offer a solution that can integrate into your asset management strategy. The key things to look for are:

  • A cloud-based business intelligence tool
  • Technology that securely captures utilization and injection-throughput data from across the organization and correlates with instrument downtime, service activity, age, analytical method use, and lab criticality data
  • Scalable cloud-based architecture with encrypted communication that supports data capture without the need for software installed on target instrument systems
  • User-friendly interactive dashboard that provides an array of visually enhanced, multidimensional reports with easy-to-understand metrics
  • 360-degree performance view that supports optimized resources, workloads, and inventory lifecycles

Learn more about utilization solutions here.

3. Take proper care of equipment and instruments.

Having the right protocols and processes in place to clean, calibrate, and perform preventative maintenance checks can vastly improve instrument performance and decrease the need for urgent repairs or replacements, which can be costly and inefficient. This can extend the life of your current equipment.

But with so many different vendors’ instruments in today’s labs, it can be challenging to ensure everything is being maintained properly. Some labs struggle to get the most productivity and efficiency from all their instruments, while others need to streamline and simplify workflows to maintain regulatory compliance – and reduce the risk of noncompliance. Either way, you’re always scrambling to figure out who to call for service as quickly as possible before you lose too much time and money.

Working with a lab services provider to have a team of experts perform instrument checks, maintenance, and repairs can make all the difference. Many providers also offer greener approaches to service, such as remote-first models, which are designed to:

  • Minimize unnecessary on-site service visits: 10% of service calls do not require parts, resulting in unnecessary travel and carbon emissions when engineers could have performed the service over the phone.
  • Optimize pre-visit troubleshooting to decrease on-site service visits and leave you better prepared for when you do need to perform an on-site repair
  • Utilize access to technical on-site personnel to utilize remote, dial-in support options that may be available from your lab service provider or the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). At OneSource, we call this our Frontline Support model; learn more below:

More About the Frontline Support Model

Each step in the Frontline Support model is designed to enhance sustainability and bring more efficiency to each customer.

We know that as small sustainability efforts accumulate, so does their impact and momentum toward achieving our larger goals. We hope you’ll join us in our effort to decrease our emissions and environmental impact with this initiative.

If you have any questions or ideas, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

A leader in the scientific industry, PerkinElmer is committed to ramping up our efforts and commitments to becoming a more sustainable company each year (more about that here). One of the critical ways we can help our partners and customers make progress toward their sustainability goals is by offering solutions with less waste and more efficiencies.

OneSource has a vast portfolio of solutions and models to return time back to the scientific community, while decreasing environmental impact and improving how we support our ecosystems, communities, and partners.


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