The University of Lethbridge has opened new buildings before and, over the years, moved countless labs and offices, but the scope and technical precision required to move into the new Science and Academic Building is beyond anything we’ve seen before.
From the sheer amount of people and equipment to be moved (350-plus individuals, 200 labs and 700 pieces of equipment larger than a box) to the technical considerations involved in relocating highly specialized materials, the move is an intricate balance of scheduling, inventory management and sensitivity.
“In essence, we’re moving 50 years of scientific research,” says Gene Lublinkhof, director of Science Facilities. “The real challenges are the lab moves and the technical equipment within the labs. As you know, we’ve long outgrown the old labs, so they are extremely congested and much of the material in them is very sensitive. We first have to move the regular lab materials, then make provisions for the extremely sensitive technical equipment.”
It all comes down to timing and figuring out a schedule that marries when a lab has been emptied of its general materials with the availability of both external relocation companies who come in with special carts to move the equipment and the specific technician for each piece of equipment who supervises the move.
“The scheduling aspect of this move has been the most challenging aspect,” says Lublinkhof. “We can’t just go in with a couple dollies and pick this stuff up and move it. We’re dealing with technicians who represent companies that primarily exist outside of Canada. We need to book them with our heavy lifters and their associated equipment and often, that’s a very short and precise window and if one schedule is off, the whole chain breaks.”
Here’s a look at relocating one room from the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience to the Science and Academic Building.
- Cupboards and Nikon relocation – Doug Bray (microscope technician), Maurice Needham (microscope technician), George McIntosh (move supervisor)
- Transmission Electron Microscope – Zero Gravity, Strathcona Mechanical Limited, Canem Systems, Doug Bray, Maurice Needham
- Axioscope microscope – Move team
- Olympus microscope – Olympus, Zero Gravity, Strathcona Mechanical Limited
- Photon microscopes (2) – Tissuevision disassembles
- Coherent laser – Coherent Inc. disassembles
- Physical relocation of Coherent laser, microscopes and anti-vibration tables – Zero Gravity, SML, Bray, Needham
- Coherent laser – Coherent Inc. reassembles and tests laser
- Photon microscopes (2) – Tissuevision reassembles and tests in combination with laser
In all, three local technicians, five external companies (four of which are outside of Canada) and the U of L’s move team must be coordinated for the relocation of this one lab. And while each lab isn’t the same and some are more technical than others, with 200 labs to move over the course of the project, it’s apparent this is a fairly intricate exercise.