Elements of Maintenance Planning for Laboratory Equipment (Part 1)

Troubleshooting vs Maintenance


  • Logical, systematic search for the source of a problem
  • Helps to identify the cause(s) of a problem with a view to correcting it
  • Works usually by the process of elimination


  • Activities carried out in order to preserve the operational status and life of an asset (equipment)
  • Does not necessarily extend the life of an asset; but lack of it can reduce the asset’s life
  • Basically two types: Preventive and Corrective Maintenance
  • Preventive Maintenance: Activities that help to detect and prevent failures before they occur or before they develop into major defects.
  • Corrective Maintenance: carried out to correct a fault so that a failed equipment can be restored to normal operational status

Maintenance Planning

  • Starts before instrument purchase
  • Critical factor in the choice of instrument model to be purchased are the instrument configuration and  the instrument vendor
  • Overall goal is ease of maintenance and low cost of ownership without compromising the quality of data required from the instrument

Maintenance Planning: Before Instrument Purchase

  • Instrument type, model, and configuration
  • Stage of instrument model in manufacturer’s support’s life span
  • Availability of adequate and responsive local technical support
  • Ease of access to critical instrument parts and consumables
  • Local availability/ease of access to high quality reagents, gases etc mandatory for instrument’s operation
  • User Training : local or overseas
  • Environmental Conditions: Power, temperature, humidity, bench availability, location in the lab

Maintenance Planning: During Installation & Commissioning

  • Proper instrument installation
  • Installation Qualification
  • System Suitability Testing
  • User’s Familiarization/Training
  • Appropriate documentation: Manuals, reports, lists, etc

Maintenance Planning: After Installation

  • Develop SOP
  • Develop list of critical spares and consumables and stocking programme
  • Develop and setup an Instruments Replacement Schedule
  • Develop a planned maintenance programme
  • Implement, Review, Take remedial actions, Implement.
Written by Muyiwa Adebola
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