Setting up a laboratory can be difficult and complicated. To remain competitive, it is vital that companies appropriately respond to market changes in a timely manner. New products and services can mean modifications in operations. For companies with laboratories, this can be expensive. Many companies make decisions based on saving money without prior planning.
This generally means incurring additional costs and potentially causing safety issues. Here we present 5 common design mistakes that should be avoided when building a lab, what could be called the five deadly sins of lab design.
1. Design without flexibility in mind
What your organization is doing in the lab today may change over time. This is especially true if we consider the continuous development of the lab environment and the addition of new instruments, equipment and even robotics in today’s labs.
Many companies do not properly plan for flexibility and adaptability when setting up a laboratory. They buy traditional fixed laboratory casework and end up paying the price when the requirements and uses change. The result of this kind of thinking is that they get trapped in a design that can become no longer effective, or have to spend extra money to redesign every time the needs change.
Companies that plan ahead, design the laboratory with modular workstations and mobile casework. As future conditions change, multiple possible configurations are part of the initial design process. For a long time, this laboratory design trend with built-in flexibility has saved time and money for many organizations.
2. Not planning for sustainability
When the company forgets to consider a large number of containment and exhaust equipment, heating equipment, 24-hour access for scientists and lab technicians, and the need for fail-safe redundant backup systems and uninterruptible emergency power supplies, many problems can happen.
Smart organizations focus on energy-saving technologies, including air quality monitoring systems, water saving and recycling, heating technologies and low-energy exhaust systems. These sustainable laboratory considerations can not only reduce the environmental impact, but also bring down the cost of operating and lead to an increase in worker productivity.
3. Failing to account for new technology
Many companies will not inform laboratory consultants of important details about their equipment and technology plans. Many times, they fail to see the value in disclosing information about large pieces of equipment that need to be considered, the number of people that will be working in their lab or information about data and electrical needs.
Pre-planning is vital, because the cost failing to account for new technology can be costly. If the contractor is asked to make changes after the laboratory is built, the company will pay extra for their time. Designing and making growth plans now, including plans to use installed laboratory furniture, will save the company a lot of headaches and save money in the future.
4. Not considering ergonomics
Technology has changed the way people work in a laboratory, so employees remain sitted for longer periods of time. Recent studies have shown that sitting too much can cause serious health risks.
Unfortunately, many organization still do not pay enough attention to ergonomics. They believe that if they buy adjustable laboratory stools, they can call it a job well done. But ergonomics is a lot more than that. In the lab setting, when it comes to ergonomics, it is better to plan in advance instead of paying a larger price later.
Incorporating ergonomics means looking at the overall situation of the employee’s work style, the quality of the seats, the height of the work surface, the location of the tools and the movements people make during a work day.
Laboratory owners should ask themselves the following questions about their laboratory employees:
- How much time will they spend sitting?
- Are they going to work on computers?
- Will they use a microscope with a neutral head position?
- Are they going to reach for tools and objets more than 18 inches away?
- Will they have to lift heavy supplies, such as a bottle of
These just indicate that some conditions need to include ergonomics when establishing a laboratory.
Remember that any well-known laboratory consultant will provide design solutions including ergonomic considerations, such as height-adjustable laboratory benches, fume hoods, stools, etc. Therefore, there is no reason not to consider this. . By considering workplace health and safety in laboratory design, companies can save thousands or even hundreds of thousands in the long run. Employees’ performance, happiness and bottom line may depend on this.
5. Getting cheap laboratory furniture
Flexible case systems are all the rage, and many non-brand companies have emerged to provide low-cost case solutions. This may be attractive for companies that want to reduce the impact on their bottom line. Many companies believe that they can save money by purchasing cheap lab furniture (such as laboratory benches, tables, laminar-flow workstations, fume hoods and chairs), but do not consider the risks involved.
In the long run, cheap furniture may eventually make the company pay more. Usually, these products have limited or no warranty, and there are also quality and safety issues, so it is difficult to find replacement parts. After making these purchases, it is not uncommon to spend extra money due to the need for repairs, replacement failures, or the need to refurbish the laboratory due to not working properly.
It is always the best choice to choose to use manufacturers whose products have been listed, certified by UL and/or comply with national standards.
Moving ahead with lab design
There are many factors to consider when designing a laboratory. Experienced laboratory consultants can share knowledge and expertise acquired from working with several clients. Hiring consultants in the early stages of a project and letting subject matter experts share their knowledge can help companies design laboratories that will serve the companies of today and tomorrow.