Disaster can strike at any moment, but where do you start to put things right when the worst happens and fire ravages your priceless research, expensive equipment and impacts thousands of your patients who depend on the lab work for life-saving medical treatment?
This was the position Christie NHS Trust found themselves in after the fire that devastated the Patterson building in Manchester in 2017 leaving hundreds of researchers stranded and countless patients at risk. Fortunately, Restore Harrow Green (RHG) who are specialists in Laboratory logistics and ground transportation with experience in instrumentation, equipment moves and project management helped the Trust pick up the pieces and start the gruelling work of restoring it to operability.
Where do you begin? - Planning
Any large scale project starts with a plan and RHG’s dedicated Project Managers are versed in the day to day running of a scientific laboratory and collaborate closely with customers to assess their needs in order to create a customized relocation plan. This level of planning reduces business downtime and enables them to structure an efficient delivery and install at destination without risking sensitive instrumentation or valuable research, allowing customers to continue their work as soon as they’re set up at their new site. Their detailed approach helps them develop approved procedures for handling and transportation which include liaising with OEMs and validation service providers when required.
After the fire at the Trust all the equipment had to be taken out of the devastated Patterson building to a dedicated RHG warehouse of over 15,000 sq. ft. A triage area was set up to assist with the cleaning, sorting and testing of equipment, which was a delicate, complicated and time consuming operation. From there teams of experts, including a project manager, a specialist cleaning team, loss adjusters and laboratory technicians were called in to accurately inventory every item of equipment and create asset tags.
A separate section of the warehouse was dedicated to the manufacture of 650 bespoke crates, and from there, the recovered equipment was organised according to whether it would be put into temporary storage or moved to different labs where research could resume.
A further 300 impacted researchers and support staff were relocated to the Alderley Park Bioscience Campus in Cheshire as well as other sites belonging to the Trust. Restore Harrow Green’s methodical approach supports GxP compliance, covering GLP, GCP, GMP and GDP practices and their expert teams prepare and pack instruments in accordance with OEM protocols and follow a strict set of procedures, identifying, labelling and logging each item using its unique serial number so it can be tracked at any point of the move which was critical in a project of this scale.
Time management and trouble shooting
When time is of the essence it is imperative to have move teams work in 12-hour shift patterns so that the researchers are set up quickly and able to resume their life-saving work. In addition, crucial specimens were transported in their designated freezers, which were kept powered during transit.
RHG work with customers’ own prepared asset lists, or undertake the set-up of the asset list from scratch, if that is preferable, and conduct regular audits and progress meetings to ensure that everything is on track.
Handling laboratory equipment, data and samples requires logistics crews who are fully vetted, security and safety trained and most importantly, highly skilled in handling mission critical sensitive equipment which means that your valuable research and specimens are in the best possible hands. RHG’s unique approach also includes their own training school which enables them to deliver bespoke and specific training modules dedicated to working in a laboratory environment.
Their main objective on any laboratory relocation is to work closely with customers to keep the amount of instrumentation downtime to an absolute minimum and ensure normal operations are restored as quickly as possible within a safe and secure environment. Knowledge and expertise are critical.
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