Instrument Care – Dormant or seldom used Instruments – Prevention of error messages

Prevent errors on dormant instruments with these tips

Anyone who owns a car knows that too little usage is almost as bad as too much. The fact iof the matter is that complex machinery and equipment goes through “wear and tear” even if the equipment or instrument is seldomly used.

Speaking for Spectrophotometers, a number of our customers may use their instruments periodically, say for the harvest, or intermittently, say for post doctorate studies. When the time comes that they want to work, the system has an error message and must be sent in for service. There is nothing more frustrating than needing to use your valuable instrument and suddenly due to lack of usage, there are errors that need to be attended to often leading to a trip to one of the Narich service centres.

Before we jump into what to do if you do not use your instrument, let’s briefly clarify the difference between Service and Certification. We go into detail on this topic ins a separate blog, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s briefly clarify these terms.

Certification is a bureaucratic procedure which says that at the time of issuing a certificate, the instrument is within the manufacturers specifications. It is deemed to be valid for a year, but in practice the instrument if miss handled could fail the next day.

Service can be pre-emptive like changing illuminants during a routine inspection, or after something more radical has happened.

It is not good practice to wait for the instrument to stop working to get a certification, nor wait for error messages to then rush around trying to get something fixed.


Here are some of the things that can happen while your instrument is dormant:

  • The internal Power Supply or battery may fail. This results in loss of settings and calibration data. The cure is to plug the instrument in every 2-3 months for 14 hours to charge any on board batteries.
  • Clean the instrument prior to packing. Residual chemicals and worse vegetable matter may damage sensitive surfaces like Sphere Coatings over a period of time, happily moulding in a dark cupboard.
  • Prevent dust from entering the instrument. This is one of the major causes of faults. For a cheap and practical solution, take Glad Wrap and seal the box before storage, as long as its not in a humid place, which it should never be in the first place.
  • Keep all the parts together, especially designated Masks and White Tiles, as well as power supplies.
  • Protect the instrument from shock and percussion damage.
  • Do we have to mention water? Store away from hot water cylinders, drains, fire sprays and drain paths.
  • Remember to open up the instrument a month before you need it and test it for usage before the panic button has to be hit.

Contact us if you find any error messages on your instrument.