I recently came across a reply to a post in the What Went Wrong? section that absolutely infuriated me. A tech was commenting that he hadn't cleaned the glass from a shattered lamp out of an instrument because he didn't have the time. Instead the light was retired. I thought about responding, but decided that the Lighting section was a more appropriate forum for this post. No one has the time for equipment maintenance. It's something for which you have to make the time. I know perfectly well that there are very few venues that can afford to shut down for a month or two just to clean their lights. Well guess what boys and girls, you don't have to. I have somewhere in the vicinity of 200 lights, and perhaps 30 pieces of effects equipment in my inventory. Every light, and those pieces of effects equipment that will be needed that season get a complete tear down and cleaning every year. Collectively that is a considerable investment of time and effort. However, I don't do it all at once. I spread my maintenance out over the course of a year. When I have a day where I have nothing else to do, or if I need to kill an hour or two, I will work on the tedious and boring job of equipment maintenance. How am I able to keep track of what has and has not been maintained? Well, this is where meticulous record keeping comes into play. Every piece of equipment in my inventory is tagged with a unique inventory number. By using the inventory number and equipment type to identify each light, I am able to keep a maintenance log, a record of what was done to the light and when. I use a simple Excel spreadsheet as my maintenance log, but a yellow legal pad would work just as well. It would just take longer to enter the information as you can't copy and paste. My major divisions are between lights and effects equipment, but within these categories, my logs include the following information: Equipment Type, Inventory Number, Date of Service, Model Number, Serial Number, Date of Manufacture, Description of Service, and Notes. Granted, not all of this information is applicable t every piece of equipment. For instance, most of my lights have neither a model number nor a serial number. That column just gets N/A for it's entry. Most of you are probably thinking that having to look up a light in your log to see if you've already maintained it can become a tedious and cumbersome task. Well, you're right! That's why I use various maintenance labels which I initial and date, so now all I have to to is check the yoke of the light where I put my labels to see when it was last serviced. The labels I use are Maintenance, Inspected, Tested, Repaired and Rejected. I know of three different suppliers I can use to get these labels, Grainger, McMaster-Carr, and Seton. I don't advise using Seton. They'll send you three catalogues a month for the rest of your life. It gets really irritating after a while, although it is kind of amusing that they've spent more on postage for their catalogues than I've spent with them in the last 5 years. I'm sure there are other suppliers out there that I'm not aware of. This may all seem like a long drawn out process and an awful lot of paper work to clean a few lousy lights, but it adds maybe a minute to the maintenance of each piece of equipment, and allows you to spread your maintenance out over the entire length of your operating season. Additionally, it provides you with a paper trail on your equipment maintenance, so that should there be an incident involving one of your lights, when the powers that be ask "Why wasn't this light properly maintained?", you can look it up in your log and say "I did this, this, and this on this date." After all, we could all use a little CYA insurance. I guess the main point I'm making here is that there is no excuse for neglecting proper equipment maintenance. "I don't have the time." doesn't hold water with me, and you can bet that when something happens and OSHA comes knocking, it will hold even less water with them.