[Cytometry] How to move FC500 cytometer-summary

Arthur Roberts robertar at umdnj.edu
Mon Jul 20 12:23:04 EDT 2009

I want to thank everyone for the many useful replies I received in answer to my question of how to best move a B-C FC-500.  I list the responses below.  I ended up getting very good help from the service engineer.  We moved it just by gently picking it up at all four corners, and setting down on the new bench. Alignment on both lasers was completely unaffected, as dtermined by running flowcheck beads before and after. So it is apparently not that tricky, but it was good to have the service engineer here just in case!  It also helps to have four people--one at each corner.


I moved a FACSCalibur (~ 150-180 lbs) to a lab approx. 200 ft. from  
the original spot about 2 months ago and had similar concerns.  I ran  
calibrations with beads prior to the instrument being loaded on a  
cart and rolled down a long hallway.  I reran the calibrations after  
all connections and computer were hooked up and everything was  
exactly as it was before.  I had scheduled a PM from the BD engineer  
for the following day just in case everything was not exactly dead- 
on.  The calibur is a 2-laser instrument similar to the FC-500.  I  
would just go for it and call Coulter only if things get knocked out  
of alignment.

We havnt moved our FC500 from when it was installed.  But we did have an XL-MCL (older Beckman Coulter flow cytometer) which was moved a couple of times during its life.  

When we moved the XL we made sure the serviceman was on site, but only because we have a service contract and being clinical lab with only one cytometer could not afford to have too much downtime.  But from memory the alignment was pretty good after we moved and it did not need much of an adjustment.  The XL was only a 1 laser instrument (488nm), it could be different with the fc500 having 2.

My suggestion is to call your serviceman to let him know when you are moving and make sure he is not going to be away for an extended length of time.  Just incase anything does happen and you need to call him in!! 

Hi- We have always had BD come and move our instruments, or at least be present so they can realign the lasers.  It does not take much jiggling to mess them up a wee bit.  Not sure about coulter, but calling them is best bet.   I DO know the lasers are sensitive.
Good luck!

Hi Art - we have moved our FC500 a couple of times.  We also have a 2nd laser. When moving it from one building to another, we had the service engineer come and re-align the laser.  However, we have moved it ourselves from one bench to another (about 50 feet).  We were careful, and both lasers were (are) fine. Good luck!

We just had to move our XL from one building to another and the BC service man 
used a piece of plywood to slide under the unit and then we could slide the unit 
onto a gurney and into the moving truck.  Some plywood and a study cart should 
get the job done.

Last fall we moved our entire lab from the basement to the second floor. We moved both an XL MCL and an FC500 and neither instrument required realignment. It's not too difficult to tweak the z axis on the flow cell yourself if things get bumped a tiny bit. Do be careful where you pick it up though.

A couple years ago I moved a FACSCalibur from one building to another and had no problems.  At the time, we had a service contract and I had the alignment checked shortly afterwards and it had not budged.  I've also moved a Luminex a couple of times that has two lasers with no problems.  I'm assuming the FC-500 has a fixed alignment as well, so it should be no problem - just be gentle.  

I have never moved a FC-500 but I have moved multiple Caliburs and our FACSCanto from one lab to another with no problem.  When I moved the Caliburs I did not have service contracts.  But, I did call BD and asked their advice on how to do the move.

Since you don't have a service contract and Beckman Coulter now wants to charge to even talk to them if you don't have a contract I'd be tempted to just call your field service engineer direct and ask his advice on what to be careful of on the move.

 you can move the unit, just be careful not to bump it too severely. Also
be careful where you grab it,  the side and front cover may come off or move, grab the frame if possible. I'm not concerned about the argon alignment that's rather robust, but if you have the long HeNe tube that may need re-aligning after the move. Let me know if have any other questions.
The unit weighs approximately 275 lbs. be careful!

We happen to have our field service rep here today working on our FC500. I asked him the questions that you have posed. He said that since you don't have a service contract and you are only moving it 3 ft. you should be fine to move it yourselves. He said to run flow check after you move it to make sure that the alignment still looks appropriate. Also, make sure that all of the wires and lines to the power supply have enough slack, or move them along with the instrument. The orange cord is for the optical system and it's very important that it doesn't get damaged. All connections should be checked prior to powering the instrument back up and running the flow check beads.
Good luck!

I have moved our FC500's without assistance, and did not encounter problems with laser alignment.   They are quite sturdy beasts.
However, if you have to disconnect the power supply (for instance, to run the cables through a grommet on the counter) it gets complex because the cables run deep into the power supply.   I wouldn't advise undertaking that without support from your biomed dept, or the company.   

Here are my two cents, if the instrument is not under contract, I assume that there is not service maintenance. The lasers might already be misaligned.
The vendor will advise in the side of caution. Ask about the cost of a service maintenance. It might cost about $3,000. It should include a fluidics clean up, laser alignment and you might learn a few things from the engineer.

If the instrument works well. Move it carefully and have the service done after that.

The instrument weights about 600lbs. Make sure that you have enough people to lift it. If you have to disconnect wires and tubes, label them before you unplug them.

     If you ask for honest opinion, personally I feel it's better to call the service engineer in to help you to shift from 1 bench to the other. There are several reasons for that:

1. I believe Beckman-Coulter FC-500 is not cheap either, compared to LSRII (I have an LSRII in our lab, but no FC-500, so can't tell the price for sure)

2. They will have appropriate manpower and "tools" to facilitate the move. In this case, you can reduce risk of getting injury to your colleagues. 

3. The laser alignment will definitely be affected. You still have to call the engineer in to realign. That's the reason most cytometer are on tables with no wheels (or fixed-castor), as slight movement of table might affect the laser alignment.

     Of course, it's still up to you to judge whether it's more appropriate to spend more $$ to get the professionals' help or doing it yourselves. Another alternative might be to repeat a multi-colour experiment (that utilize all the lasers in FC-500) before moving yourselves, and after moving. If the results are different, you definitely need to call the engineer for help.

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