Applied Analytical Systems

Maintenance Planning for Laboratory Equipment

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, 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: What to consider 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.

Planned Maintenance    

  • Also called Preventive Maintenance or Scheduled Maintenance
  • It is Pre-planned and scheduled
  • Involves scheduled service visits by competent service agent, but may also include periodical checks  and care by User
  • Can be date-based or hours-based
  • Allows for easier planning of maintenance
  • Allows for easier ordering and inventory of spares
  • Allows for easy budgeting and costs management
  • Allows for an essentially trouble-free instrument life

Impact of Environmental Conditions and Other Factors

Environmental Conditions

  • Basically temperature, humidity and light
  • Comply with Manufacturers recommended environmental conditions
  • Temperature affects instrument stability; high temperature may damage some instrument components and PCBs
  • High humidity can also damage instrument components and PCBs
  • Use of air-conditioners and/or dehumidifiers may be necessary.
  • Light may damage optical components in spectrophotometers


  • Instruments work within precise and specified gas pressure ranges
  • Use high quality and functional pressure regulators; preferably 2-stage regulators
  • High gas pressures can damage components such as valves and electronic flow regulators in instruments
  • Instruments also require highly pure gases devoid of moisture, hydrocarbons and other impurities —–VERY IMPORTANT
  • Impure gases can damage valves, electronic flow regulators, GC columns and block GC capillary gas lines
  • Use high quality gases and gas filters


  • Perhaps, the greatest singular cause of equipment malfunction in developing countries where power supply is irregular and inadequate
  • Voltage and frequency very important
  • Damage to instrument components can occur due to voltage and/or frequency fluctuation and intermittent power supply
  • Facility wiring and grounding also very important and critical
  • Use of good quality line conditioners, voltage stabilizers and UPS may be necessary


  • An untrained User is the greatest source of danger to an equipment, as well as to himself and the facility.
  • Users must be trained and qualified in the operation and basic user maintenance of an instrument before they begin to use
  • A freshly trained User must use an instrument under supervision until he has demonstrated adequate proficiency
  • Properly developed SOPs must be in place and must be understood and followed by all Users


(C) Muyiwa Adebola, 2017.


Written by Muyiwa Adebola

[email protected],

07084594001, 07084594004

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