Improving accessibility to lab materials1
The project team (clockwise from top row, extreme left): Amelia Lim (OETU), Chin Pei Pei (CPO), Michelle Liu (CPO), Teo Hwee Sim (CPO), Tan Keng Hoe (OETU) and Soh Qianni (OETU)
Tan Keng Hoe
Associate Director
OE Transformation Unit
Teo Hwee Sim
Senior Manager
Central Procurement Office

Improving accessibility to lab materials

For NUS research staff, purchasing chemicals and lab consumables constitutes an important part of their daily work.

In 2018, the Laboratory Materials Management System (LMMS) was implemented to help research staff manage the inventory of regulated lab materials and hazardous chemicals effectively. To improve and streamline the purchasing process for these materials and chemicals, with real-time inventory checks, the Laboratory Materials Purchase Requisition System (LMPRS) was developed and integrated with the LMMS in 2019.

When research staff procure chemicals through the LMPRS, there are varying delivery times for their purchases. Staff may also purchase chemicals directly from the lab supply store located at the Faculty of Science. However, the transportation of chemicals for in-person purchases poses potential safety issues, especially for hazardous chemicals.

To enhance the purchasing processes, the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit (OETU) collaborated with the Central Procurement Office (CPO) to spearhead a project to improve transportation of chemicals, and also provide more accessibility to lab consumables on campus.

In June 2020, an express chemicals delivery trial was launched to offer same-day delivery for 25 different chemicals, to labs across the University. “The express delivery ensured that chemicals are transported promptly and safely, while the direct delivery from vendors eliminated the storage and inventory management for these chemicals,” said Teo Hwee Sim, Senior Manager at CPO, who added that the improved efficiency generated time savings for staff.

To increase accessibility of common lab consumables, ranging from lab stationaries and plasticwares, to tubes and syringe filters,  a vending machine was installed in the vicinity of MD11 building in July 2020. Research staff can now purchase these lab consumables at their own convenience, instead of paying a visit to the lab supply store.

Tan Keng Hoe, Associate Director at OETU shared that the project team had conducted a survey to better understand research staff’s requirements and receptivity to purchasing lab consumables from a vending machine prior to implementation. The survey revealed an added advantage of leveraging a vending machine for purchases after working hours. Payment is done digitally and e-receipts facilitate reimbursements via CONCUR, thus providing optimal convenience for staff. NUS Corporate Cards are also an accepted mode of payment.

Currently, NUS is the only tertiary institution in Singapore which has piloted the project of lab consumables vending machine. This initiative paves the way for more innovative campus solutions to benefit the University community.  

Improving accessibility to lab materials2

Easy access: a vending machine for lab consumables at MD11

Organisational Excellence is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.


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