Digital secrets of successful lab management
For labs whose hardware is in high demand, Clustermarket streamlines equipment booking and management. “Clustermarket is like AirBnB for research facilities,” says Raif Yuecel, head of the Centre for Cytomics at the University of Exeter, UK.
With more than 40 people trying to access 10 pieces of equipment, Yuecel needed a way to manage use in an efficient and controlled way. Through Clustermarket, he can advertise the instruments and services that his flow-cytometry core facility provides. Potential clients, both internal and external, can book immediately if there is availability and they have permission, or they can send a request to Yuecel’s team. On the Clustermarket dashboard, Yuecel can see the daily, weekly or monthly calendars for all of the instruments and can control access on a per-user basis.
Yuecel accesses Clustermarket through his university’s subscription, but a free option is available for individual academic groups. Group leaders can generate a report each month to see who used each piece of equipment, how often and for which projects, as well as the associated costs. “We can do optimum resource management by tracking the usage of our instrumentation,” says Yuecel.
Group leaders must find the digital tools that make their labs more streamlined, effective and creative. Apps that can do those things, leaders say, are worth their learning curves. Between in-house software, social media for outreach and other tools, researchers can become overwhelmed by platform fatigue, Lea says. “However, there’s joy and excitement for learning new software if it makes your life easier.”