In order to determine the space and equipment requirements for a new lab, Two parallel approaches (“top-down” and “bottom-up”) are often used to help ensure that the quantity and quality of space are exactly what is needed to perform the testing activities.
In the top-down approach, pertinent metrics such as headcount with various historical and benchmark data can be used to help determine space requirements, functional areas, the number of rooms and their size, and the amount of equipment that can be placed in each room.
The bottom-up approach examines how many batches and how many lots are being manufactured to determine how many tests are required, the equipment needed for each test and the frequency of equipment use. This information dictates how much space is needed for each test.
The combination of these two approaches can help create a holistic picture of both the quantity and quality of space required.
Through the use of common spaces, an environment can be created where the different departments are brought together to interact, forming bonds and interdepartmental connections. These interactions help to increase operational efficiency within the facility and to develop trust and collaboration.
By knowing their coworkers, the staffs are better able to communicate through networking, collaboration, and problem-solving sessions. Understanding one another as people, rather than by job title, increases teamwork and fosters communication for constructive problem solving during operation.
Designing for flexibility in lab installations
Furniture in laboratories must fit the needs of the activities that will take place in the lab, and not vice versa. This simple principle may seem obvious but it is not always respected.
It is not unusual to find situations in which the testing activities are not as lean as they could be, due to the constraints of furniture arrangement and utility distribution.
Also, the user needs, type of tests, equipment used, and activities carried out in a laboratory evolve over time. Often a design that was originally perfect may become obsolete and may become so quickly. Indeed, sometimes it is necessary to revamp a lab area immediately after the conclusion of the construction phase.
To mitigate this problem, laboratory designers and furniture suppliers have developed flexible solutions over the past ten years:
Flexibility at bench level
Flexible benches are on wheels to allow a reconfiguration of the lab layout. They can be detached and moved, but the reconfigurability is limited as they need to be close to the utilities and services distribution.
Flexibility at the distribution level
The distribution of services such as gases, electrical power, vacuum, and water are typically rigidly fixed on the bench in a nonflexible configuration. However, the services and utilities “distribution wall” can be detached from the bench, breaking the rigid connection between bench and services and allowing some level of reconfiguration; or they can be distributed from above via flexible connections, with blind connections at various points in the lab ceiling void to allow a much greater degree of future configurability.
The key objective of work cell design is to have clearly defined work areas and sample flows, with all necessary equipment, services, and materials close at hand and with reaches and movement minimized. Achieving this normally requires a bench configuration that “loops” around.
Above mentioned principles can and should be applied in order to optimize lab processes and operational performance. The design, layout, and placement of labs can have a significant positive or negative impact on the implementation and sustainability of processes and behaviours within the lab.