As technicians we have all experienced the nightmare of managing laboratory equipment. Keeping users, academics, finance, and health and safety happy is never easy.

Screenshot of the booking interface.

Screenshot of the booked interface.

In the Faculty of Engineering, with help from School of Physics and Astronomy, we have found a computer program that comes to the rescue.

'Booked' is, at heart, a calendar-based equipment booking program; however, it can do much more. A team in the Faculty of Engineering Sara Dona, Ollie Clark, Ben Douglas, and Susanne Patel have worked together with the program developers to further develop Booked to help with the complexities of running both open access facilities and small research groups.

Booked allows you to create a schedule (room/facility/group) and place resources (equipment) within that schedule and then allows users (eg, students) to book the equipment.

The software provides three levels of access:

a. Superuser – this is for the lead person(s) to manage the application. The superuser sets up schedules and groups. Supervisors are given access to their own groups by the superuser.

b. Supervisors – this is the general admin level to manage individual areas, add/remove equipment. Add/remove users from your groups and give users permission to book equipment once trained. Supervisors are unable to make changes to another supervisor’s area/ group.

c. User – this is the general user view. They can see all equipment available within the area and book equipment they are trained to use.

If equipment suddenly breaks or maintenance needs to be planned in, supervisors are able to make equipment unavailable and superusers can even place a notice on the front page. If somebody’s booking has to be deleted, the system automatically sends an email to the user to notify them.

Booked also has a reporting function which allows all booking data to be exported in a csv format (which can be opened in Excel). This allows you to monitor how much the equipment is used and who is using it. If you charge for a service, you can export account numbers and usage easily. So, Booked can provide you with the information you need to justify servicing and upgrading of equipment based on usage. You can also extract information on who is using the equipment to allow you to identify peak times.

Booked can also help with keeping records for health and safety. You are able to input information such as room number, photographs, contact person, and risk assessment information. In the Faculty of Engineering we have developed this further to include information relating to the PUWER regulations so all users are able to see at a glance the information they need to operate and manage the equipment safely, and all laboratory documentation is on one easily accessible software package.

Screenshot of the booking interface.

Screen shot of the schedule system with all the equipment available.

Obviously there is way too much information about the software to include it here. If you would like more information please contact the Booked team for a demonstration.

Written by Susanne Patel, Sara Dona, and Ben Douglas

Posted in: