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Tracking Instrument Maintenance and Repairs within LIMS

Tracking Instrument Maintenance and Repairs within LIMS


By Robert Benz, Sales & Marketing Director for Khemia Software


Ask any seasoned analyst in a laboratory about the maintenance and repairs on a particular instrument they work on and they can speak volumes.  From firsthand experience, I could tell you how often I had repaired the FIA, the old spectrometer on the bench, when the balance was last checked and what we had done to the mercury analyzer.  The chemist in our ICP room could tell you every nut and bolt on the ICP, the last time the torch had been replaced and when the pump tubing was last changed.  This data was generally recorded in one of the log books by the instrument.  Of course, looking back for any details was like finding a needle in a haystack.  Much of the knowledge was ingrained over time within the analysts working on the instrument.  Anytime a seasoned analyst left and a new person took their position, that knowledge was lost and had to largely be regained over time.


Though no one and no one thing can replace the intimate knowledge of a particular analyst on a particular instrument quickly, however, the proper recording of instrument maintenance and repairs within LIMS can go a long ways towards helping.  The days of searching through log book after log book to find a note on how something was done or to find a printout of a “simple” repair is long past.  So is trying to find the service contract phone number or email address that used to be stuck to the side of the instrument (need we compare stories on how those became unreadable in time?).

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As seen above, each instrument is recorded within the LIMS with all pertinent information including manufacturer, model, serial number, additional info, service agreement information including contract number, contract expiration date and contact, whether or not the instrument is active, etc. 


From this main screen, the working Maintenance Log along with a printable copy (upper right) is available along with the IDL Limits, Linked Files and Corrective Action.  When the Maintenance Log (second tab as shown) is selected, the following screen appears:


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All notes such as analyst, date and action are recorded along with if a service call was required.  A printable version of this may be seen below:


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Equally important is the final tab for Linked Files.  With this tab, all information in-house associated with a particular instrument may be linked.  Today most instrument manufacturers offer PDFs of the manual, which may be linked and forever available to the analysts (no more disappearing manuals that were taken  home for light reading before bed – sadly, a true story by a former employee).  Invoices associated with repairs, technician notes, etc. may be linked here for a permanent record by attaching external files.

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Additionally, weekly, quarterly or biannual maintenance may be scheduled to remind the analyst of what needs to be done.  As Benjamin Frankly once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  This is not only still relevant, but equally as true.   Upon occasion, such notes are all that is needed to keep an auditor happy.


While there is no replacement for firsthand knowledge and experience, there are many way to ease the learning curve and ensure the success of the analyst, the instrument and the laboratory.  Taking advantage of what a LIMS has to offer can greatly facilitate all facets of this process. 


For any additional information, please contact Robert Benz ( at Khemia Software, Inc. ( 

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Posted by: Khemia on Apr 19,17| Profile| LIMS - Laboratory Information Management Systems


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