Monday, August 18, 2008

TURI Lab has New Mobile Lab (Sort Of)

While the TURI lab works on funding for an actual mobile lab, the lab has been using lab technician and field implementation specialist Heidi Wilcox's Saturn Vue for the last two years as the unofficial mobile lab.

Heidi will be trading in the Saturn Vue, which has high miles on it, for a new, used 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. It has much fewer miles and is a nice grey green color. The rear seats are removable so there will be no problem carrying equipment to companies. The Cruiser also gets better gas mileage than the Vue so we are going a little greener.

Eventually, our goal is to move up to an RV size moblie lab (see below) to facilitate easier on-site assistance to companies. Why? One of the biggest stumbling blocks associated with surface cleaning alternatives assessment is the time spent gathering and sending samples off to the laboratory to be tested and then waiting for the parts to be returned for in-house assessment. If the alternative did not work, the entire process of gather and sending samples usually has to be repeated. Over time, the flow of testing and information can become less of a priority as other non-cleaning projects arise during the down time of testing.

Through initial site visits to companies, the delivery of collected materials is facilitated by the lab personnel. The materials are taken back to the lab at the end of the site visit. This process has been found to improve the initial round of testing and keeps the project going on faster pace allowing increased potential for implementation of testing results. However, there still exists the time lag when sending products back to the client for in-house inspections and retesting if necessary. This allows the same back-shelf mentality to develop. Having testing capabilities available on-site of the client will allow for alternative assessment to proceed rapidly without losing any of the quality provided by a fixed laboratory.

The mobile laboratory would expand TURI’s capabilities on testing, demonstration, and training expertise to out-of-state audiences. Outfitted with state-of-the-art cleaning equipment, the Mobile Lab would use company parts/soils to assess cleaning and provide real-time evaluations of “greener” products. Target audiences would include businesses and other organizations that lack the time, resources, and expertise to conduct evaluations of “green” alternatives. Finally, the Mobile Lab would operate as a roving training/demonstration site for regional trade organizations, government facilities, regulatory staff, and community groups.

The TURI Lab continues to seek out funding opportunities to finance this end endeavor. Please contact us if you have any interest in this project.

Possible Layout for Mobile Lab