Getting New Equipment for the Lab
This policy is intended to provide guidance on how to get new equipment for the lab where the item you want is larger or more expensive than the routine spending rules
- Decide, in some detail, what it is that you want. Do you want to buy a piece of commercial equipment? if yes from who and what specification? Do you want to build something custom? if yes then what specification and design? are you willing to commit to building it within a reasonable timescale as we can't allow the lab to become a dumping ground for half-finished projects
- Consider the implications for the lab. If the equipment is potentially dangerous or hard to use (consider a portable power drill as a reference, if it's more difficult or dangerous that than?) if yes you're going to have to be willing to offer training or to write and give an induction on it.
- How large is it? where are you proposing we store it? will anything else have to give way? Remember the lab is very short of space, we need to keep benches and other work areas including the loading bay free for larger projects so space to store equipment is limited. If your proposed tool can be broken down and stored in drawers or otherwise take up less space when not in use that will help. Consider making new storage space if needed, making shelves or drawers. If some other tool is going to have to be disposed of to make room then you'll have to show clearly why your new tool is more important than the existing one (doesn't mean we CAN'T dispose of existing tools to make room for new, but you need to show good reasoning why we should).
- Talk to other people around the lab (ideally including a director) about it and try to gauge general levels of interest
- Consider if what you're trying to do could be achieved by other means using tools we already have. If it could be then you'll need to consider why we should get the new tool instead of using existing ones. It doesn't mean we CAN'T get a new tool if it makes what you want to do easier or cheaper but you'll need to think about it and provide reasoning.
- Post to the mailing list and find out how many other people are interested and willing to help
Where you go from here depends on the interest level, how many people are going to be regularly using it? Regularly means "Yes I have projects several times a year where this will definitely be useful" not "That sounds interesting, I'd like to do that some day"
Just 1 or 2 people
The lab probably can't help you with this. You'll have to buy it yourself and store it at home. It'll be fine to bring it to the lab to use so long as it doesn't pose any special hazards to others and you take it away afterwards.
3 or 4 people
This tool is probably something that can live in the lab if space can be found but we probably won't be able to contribute the entire cost from lab funds. This might be a good candidate for a pledge drive, talk to the people who've expressed interest and agree a specification that would all be willing to contribute towards. If you think you're able to reach a good fraction of the purchase price for what you want then check out where it might live in the lab, if anything else is going to have to give way or we're going to lose working space then you'll need to show especially good reason why we should be keeping it at the lab. Once that's sorted out we can have a discussion about how much funds the lab would be willing to put towards the tool. a 1:1 match is the benchmark but there's flexibility.
This is something that there's clearly a demand for so it can probably be purchased from central funds unless it's VERY expensive. As with the previous category you'll need to agree a detailed specification between all interested parties and put together a proposal that covers
- What we would be buying, costs and delivery time estimates
- If you're going to be constructing any part of it, a rock-solid commitment from someone willing to do the work in a defined time period and evidence that they are competent to do so if appropriate. We set the bar higher for projects involving a substantial build element as there's a strong tendency for people to start such projects and never finish them, wasting lab funds.
- Where it would live in the lab
- If anything else is going to have to give way then what and why
- Any safety precautions that will be needed
- A solid commitment from someone to offer training on the tool including training other trainers
- A solid commitment from someone to maintain the tool, including training other maintainers
- If an induction will be needed then at least an outline of what that will be and commitments from at least 2 people to offer inductions
Bring your proposal to the list and if there's general agreement then we'll get it, if it's a very,very large expenditure then we may have to organise an indicative vote from the entire membership