Inventory & Sample Management
Labs often have a large amount of chemicals, reagents and other inventory needed for various experiments. Due to the large volume of these present in labs, it can be very difficult to keep track of what is already in the lab, how much of it and when these need to be disposed of in a safe manor. This can result in lab users buying and throwing away the same chemical at the same time in a lab, and across labs in different departments. There is also a safety risk associated with not knowing exactly what chemicals are present in each lab. To combat these issues a chemical and inventory management software can be implemented.
Keeping track of chemical and inventory in labs can be difficult without the correct systems in place. This can come in the form of a more simple technique such as an excel sheet or shared document or more complex in the form of a management software tool. Implementing these systems can help labs to prevent duplicate purchases, save money and reduce waste.
Implementing a management tool can have numerous financial and safety benefits as well as being more sustainable. Labs often have to pay for the chemical when it is purchased and then pay again to get rid of it when it's no longer needed or if it expires and cannot be used anymore. Both costs can be eliminated through the sharing of chemicals. This can only happen if lab users know exactly what is already present in their own lab, but also labs within their departments. This can also save time as lab users are not waiting for chemicals etc., to be delivered. In UCL the chemistry department estimates they can save up to £90,000 a year.
Health & Safety
Having a chemical and inventory management tool can also improve the health and safety within labs. Many of the tool available such as LabCup, which is already used by multiple departments across UCC, allow users to save the SDS information within the tool and track when an item must be thrown away. This enables users to know exactly when and how each chemical must be disposed of. The tools can also help making disposal more efficient as you can save all the chemicals that have to be disposed of in a certain way, until there is enough of them. This will reduce costs and is more sustainable.
The final benefit of the management tools is they aid a lab in becoming more sustainable. By reducing the amount of duplicate purchasing across departments, the carbon emissions associated with deliveries are reduced, there is less packaging wasted and less of the chemical itself. Using up all of a chemical before buying another one, also helps to prevent waste and is therefore more sustainable than the alternative.
Simple considerations such as this can make a big difference when used across multiple labs. Working together with other scientists in your own department, or across multiple different schools will inspire others in other labs to also become more sustainable. This saves money and time as well.