“25–37–18.” Football play? The lottery? Bingo? No, it’s the sound of an equipment survey in progress. An equipment survey of existing instrumentation in the laboratory is a valuable tool that will be referenced countless times by the project team during the planning and design of a renovation project or new forensic facility. How does an equipment survey work and what types of information are collected? Why is this information important to the design team? What impact does the survey information have on design? This article addresses these questions and will help you to understand how an equipment survey is an integral part of the foundation of a facility construction project.
How does an equipment survey work? The survey can either be initiated by the in-house staff or can be part of the services rendered by the design team for a project. The act of surveying and the intricate nature of the data management can be a daunting task for the in house staff. Without a firm understanding of the importance of the data collected, quite often in-house surveys will lack critical design information. However, even when the equipment survey process is contracted to a design team, the first part of an equipment survey still starts with the end user.
Our information collection process begins a few weeks before the survey team arrives on site. We begin by sending the in-house staff a packet of materials that includes a welcome letter, instructions, and the necessary tools for pre-labeling equipment for the survey team. One easy method for the labeling process is providing the lab with a series of dot stickers in green, yellow, and red. Green dots on a piece of equipment denote that the instrument will be moving to the new facility, yellow dots indicate that an item may or may not be moving, and red dots visually explain to the team that an item is not relocating to the new space.
Once the pre-survey identification process is complete, the survey team will arrive on-site to conduct the actual survey. The colored stickers alert the design team which equipment requires survey, allowing them to move silently through the lab collecting data without disturbing employees from their work.
What exactly needs to be surveyed?What the team surveys will depend on the specifics of your project. Often almost everything in the lab is surveyed. On some occasions only equipment of substance will be surveyed. Equipment of substance is defined as items which require infrastructure for support, require special floor or bench space, or have other critical needs that should be documented such as vibration sensitivity. Examples of potential infrastructure support include:
- Items which require water and drain connections.
- Equipment utilizing services such as vacuum, air, or a specific gas.
- Items which require nonstandard electrical such as 208V or emergency power.
- Equipment which requires building exhaust connections for venting.
Each piece of equipment and its ancillary component have an individual survey sheet. The sheet includes basic information: manufacturer, model number, dimensions, mounting requirements, and infrastructure requirements. The survey team will also document each piece photographically. The surveyors will also examine equipment for any helpful information on the unit itself, such as name plates that often list additional critical information. Last, the team will survey each existing laboratory space as a whole, noting equipment adjacencies, and will often include a scale drawing of the room to show relative distances.