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lab equipment booking system

Heriot-Watt University - Microwaves and Antenna Engineering Research Group

January 24, 2022
“Clustermarket makes booking lab equipment more efficient, transparent, and coordinated. Clustermarket is also fast evolving, meeting different practical needs that emerge.” Yuan Ding, Dr

Lab Profile

Located at Heriot-Watt University, The Microwaves and Antenna Engineering group are considered global research  leaders in microwaves and antennas for physical-layer wireless systems. Housed in a state-of-the-art facility for fabrication and testing of antennas and microwave components, they deliver world-class research to drive the adoption of advanced front-end solutions in emerging high frequency electronic systems and applications. To deliver this research, they have high-end equipment such as an Oscilloscope and Arbitrary Signal Generators by Tektronix, PNA test sets by Keysights, and Probe Station, Load Tuners, and many more. 

  • Number of users - 32
  • Number of equipment - 35
  • Type of lab/facility - Engineering
  • Research area - Microwaves and antennas
  • Location - Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Previous system - Google Calendar and Google Drive

Research

Boasting as the largest research and development base of its kind in Scotland, The Microwave and Antenna Engineering center hosts 8 academic faculties. They focus their efforts in a wide breadth of microwave and radio frequency devices and systems in physical-layer wireless. Some of their research include Radio systems for emerging space missions and Satellite Communications, Automotive sensors, Advanced RF for wireless Broadband and IoT Technologies for sensing. They have expertise within the development and characterization of microwave components, compact reconfigurable and reflector antennas, RF nonlinear & active circuits. The research group contains over 20 postdocs and PhD students, who all work together to continue to investigate and deliver innovative technologies within the aforementioned areas of research.

Problem

The Microwaves and Antenna Engineering research group needed a lab equipment booking system that would allow a better working flow within the lab. They implemented a booking calendar and used an equipment list, which was accessible to all the lab members. However, being unable to combine the equipment list with a booking calendar meant there often was confusion regarding availability within the lab. Not having a clear overview of the equipment meant that new users were unaware of the equipment in the lab, as well as new equipment going unnoticed, and therefore unused, by group members. Furthermore, as the booking system did not allow the lab admin to set booking rules, they were not able to ensure that the highly-specialized pieces of equipment within the lab were only being booked by trained users. This meant the admins had to spend a lot of time overseeing each booking. 

Solution

Needing to implement a system that provided better organization and ensured sensitive equipment was only accessible for trained users, the Microwaves and Antenna Engineering research group implemented the lab equipment booking system provided by Clustermarket. It allowed users to quickly see equipment availability the platform supported better communication and forward planning for the researcher. In addition, the lab managers benefited from the ability to link equipment bookings to projects, which gave them a better understanding of project cost. As the lab also contained sensitive pieces of equipment, which only specific research could have access to, the system allowed the lab admins to implement booking restrictions and users rules. By implementing these rules, they could rest easy knowing that the equipment would only be handled by trained researchers.

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References