University of Malta
 

Management of Laboratory Equipment Asset Inventory
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Inventory management is both critical and key to any organisation or institution. It is about capturing the basics; knowing what devices you own and who owns them. By maintaining accurate, up to date inventory of owned hardware and software, an overview of fixed assets can be easily accessed. In doing so, this ensures that all tangible assets are properly maintained, accounted for and maximised to their full potential. 

Though a number of departments already do have some form of elementary database for key assets in their possession, information is usually incomplete, basic and very often inaccessible – currently maintained through a rudimentary manual system of stock cards within the same department. In line with a clear and strong vision to raise the standard of research laboratories within all faculties at the University of Malta to higher international levels, the latter has recently embarked on an ambitious but critical exercise to have a holistic vision of all its assets for research equipment located within the labs both at the campus and at any of its off-site institutions. It is with great honour to note that the Research Support Services Directorate (RSSD) has been primarily entrusted with the co-ordination for this project.

The aim of this project is to have one consolidated asset inventory for research equipment across all the 341 labs, to be managed within the AIMS database platform. The ultimate deliverable will be a user friendly web page allowing all authorised personnel holding a University account to be able and easily search and locate by room for specific equipment within the research area of interest through an integrated IT system. Information will also be complemented by a photo and updated data on the status of the equipment in question.

A healthy and updated asset inventory offers many advantages, amongst which but certainly not limited to, are the following:
  • quick and easy access by all research units on the availability of equipment in real time within the different labs across all the faculties – better resource allocation for new equipment and a reduction in repeat purchases
  • compliance with legal requirements and easier management of assets for insurance cover purposes
  • reduction in the cost of hardware by tracking the life-cycle of each device and ensuring they are being used to the maximum potential and greatest efficacy up to their end of life
  • pre-requisite for laboratories wishing to work for accreditation
  • better management in the maintenance and scheduling of servicing for major equipment
  • immediate access to updated contacts of suppliers for each item in the inventory list
  • alert notifications of pre-scheduled calibrations and possibility to maintain a history log for equipment
  • improved budgeting costs for repairs and maintenance
  • direct booking and request forms for use of equipment with the respective department concerned
  • easy management and maintenance of the inventory and room location by assigned departmental personnel in cases of transfer of equipment, additions or write-offs.
The information being sourced for each item in the asset inventory is very detailed and extensive involving a thorough co-ordination of multiple departments, services and resources in the process. Amongst others, this information would include:
  • item description (in brief)
  • serial number
  • brand
  • model
  • supplier
  • date of acquisition
  • price
  • invoice number
  • room location
  • project of acquisition
  • stock photos, and
  • details of the person assigned within each department, responsible for maintaining the data in the inventory. 
Once an item will be uploaded in the AIMS database and becomes visible in the dedicated University web-page, a QR code label with scanned information will be issued for each one and affixed to the respective equipment.

The process for setting up this harmonised inventory is already underway, with the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics /ARU being the first to be completed for upload into AIMS. Although RSSD will be in the driving seat for this project, it is clear that ownership of the database needs to be ultimately assumed by the respective departments concerned to ensure that information is always updated and maintained with the latest current status of equipment. The comprehensive inventory will definitely serve as a strong asset in itself to the University, bringing research labs across all faculties together on one common harmonised platform and synergise the mission to raise the standard of these labs to an international level.

The outcome and the success of this project depends on us all – RSSD is banking on the commitment of each and every one of us to see this vision through. The strength of this important web based tool will ultimately only be as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

Refer to the AIMS asset process flow manual for instructions on how to manage the AIMS Asset module.

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Last Updated: 26 October 2018

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