How Toolsquare helps labs benefit from equipment insights

How Toolsquare helps labs benefit from equipment insights

How VIB lab benefits from insights in equipmehnt use

An interview with Rouslan Efremov, Group Leader VIB (Flemish Institute of Biotechnology), about the challenges in the VIB lab and the cooperation with Toolsquare.

“The amount of downtime of the centrifuges has reduced dramatically.”

What were the challenges in the VIB lab?

Our initial reason was to have control of our instruments in the VIB lab as we have a lot of expensive instruments. We wanted to know who uses them, when they use them and we also wanted to have control of the access to the instruments. We could thus allow access to people that have been properly trained.

The second reason why we were interested in Toolsquare was to know how much the instruments are used. Without the proper data, we didn’t know whether we needed to buy another instrument or optimise the usage of existing instruments. We also wanted to know the downtime of the instruments, whether it was linked to misuse and how much money we spent on repairs.

How was the downtime of VIB lab instruments before and after Toolsquare?

It makes people more responsible when they know their equipment use is registered. According to Jan Steyaert, Director VIB-VUB center of Structural Biology “we registered a 90% reduction in repair costs in the commons room thanks to Toolsquare.”

In what way did Toolsquare help you with teams from other departments that use your lab?

In this case it becomes very important to have good time registrations. Now, we can send an invoice based on the use of the equipment to external people. Apart from that, we also have common equipment shared between all the labs of the department which are also used differently by different groups. Some groups never use it, some groups use it everyday. To model future investments, it’s important to know who actually needs the instruments and who is using them.

Did you have tools to extract information from paper logbooks?

Usually we didn’t. Very occasionally we looked in the logbook, but we were never really sure whether there were users that did not fill in the log book. Before, there always needed to be someone in the VIB lab. It is really important that we can eliminate this person with Toolsquare.

How does Toolsquare help with safety?

Using the Toolsquare units we are sure that everyone who has access has actually been trained to use this equipment. That makes a big difference.

Has Toolsquare helped VIB embrace an open lab culture?

I think it does help make it more open. We used to have some issues with equipment owned by a certain group but occasionally used by other groups. It ends the discussion about who needs to contribute to buy the next instrument or who broke it. With Toolsquare, there is a perfect traceability of usage of the instrument.

Why is Toolsquare particularly useful for VIB?

I realised it was a really efficient way of using the equipment in a multi-user environment. These users all have different levels of experience. Instead of constantly supervising those people you just need to use the Toolsquare units that provide you perfect traceability. It also makes people more responsible when they know that their instrument use is registered.

We also started looking at the data we wanted to extract. We realised the usage statistics could help us make date-driven decisions.

 “There is a perfect traceability of usage of the instrument.”

Rouslan Efremov

Group Leader – VIB (Flemish Institute of Biotechnology)

How important are the statistics on usage now?

All the funding organisations, including FWO (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Fund for Scientific Research), which is the main funder of basic scientific research in Flanders, are now all concerned with data management. From this point of view, Toolsquare helps us a lot. It is essentially an electronic logbook, with statistics of everything. According to the requirements of the granting agencies we have to log all the usage of the instruments. Before, it was an awful lot of work to gain inaccurate data, now we obtain exact data with one click.

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