Laboratories all across the world provide the high-tech conditions that lab managers need to generate novel medical therapies, agricultural breakthroughs, and imaginative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. To do so, however, requires each laboratory to have high-quality lab furniture and lab benches.
Though there are many different points of view and questions concerning how to best design a laboratory, a few things are critical to the design process. Below, we will take a look at a few tips you can implement in your lab design and buildout to ensure a smooth process.
Continue reading below to discover seven great tips for a successful lab design process and find out how LabTech Supply Company can help outfit your laboratory with the best lab equipment and furniture available.
Difference Between “Open” and “Closed” Labs
To facilitate team-based work, an increasing number of academic institutes are building “open” labs. The open lab concept differs greatly from the “closed” lab approach of the past, which was predicated on accommodating a single primary investigator.
Lab users in open labs share the laboratory building, laboratory equipment, bench space, and support staff. The open lab concept encourages collaboration among scientists and makes the lab more responsive to changing needs.
The term “open-plan” refers to any floor plan that features big, open spaces with few walls and little use of small, enclosed rooms. This tendency continues in modern office space design, with few walls and movable, modular furniture resulting in an open, dynamic workspace. The open-plan concept has been popular in laboratory design since the mid-1990s.
Some lab users find it difficult or impossible to work in an open-access lab, which means closed labs are still required for certain types of lab research and lab equipment. Closed labs require a dedicated room in a closed lab for specific research, and when a researcher wants a private place, an individual closed lab can be used, and people can view the environment through glass walls.
7 Tips for Your Next Lab Design
When planning or upgrading a laboratory building, there are several things you should consider to ensure you create the best scientific environment possible. Here are NUMBER tips to consider when planning your next laboratory building design.
Flexible Engineering Systems
Most labs require flexible engineering services such as supply and exhaust air, water, electricity, voice/data, and vacuum systems. To enable for quick and economical equipment hookups, labs must have easy connects/disconnects on the walls and ceiling and might also need to be designed to allow for the removal or addition of fume hoods, the conversion of the new space from a lab to an office and back, or the maintenance of the controls outside of the lab.
Flexible engineering systems should be built to meet initial needs while also allowing for at least a buffer for expected future initiatives. For example, future heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, and electrical needs should be accommodated in utility corridors, ceilings, and vertical chases.
A 10,000 square meter lab building normally takes three years to design and construct, so the research needs of an organization may change during this time, or the persons conducting the study may depart and be replaced by others. In any instance, there’s a significant likelihood that the lab’s purpose will shift, and if the entire lab is outfitted with new casework, the casework may need to be replaced before anyone steps foot in the new laboratory.
In most labs, it is advised that equipment zones take up about a quarter of the space to provide researchers the freedom to move casework and equipment around and add casework and/or equipment as needed. When the research team moves into the lab, the equipment zones are normally set up when they know exactly what they’ll need to get the job done.
When a laboratory is created generically, all of the labs are the same size and have the same fundamental engineering services and casework. When it is unknown who will use the space or what type of study will be conducted there, generic labs are a good alternative.
Because each team or researcher is provided with the same basic amenities, a generic lab design may make sense from an administrative aspect. In addition, the best generic labs come with some flexibility built-in and can be easily adapted for equipment installation, engineering services, or casework adjustments.
More research procedures can now be automated because of technological advancements. Equipment used to be crammed into existing lab setups; today’s labs must be built to conveniently accept the necessary equipment. There are a few different forms of movable casework to think about.
Storage cabinets that are seven feet tall provide a huge amount of storage space for a reasonable price, especially when compared to the cost of many base cabinets. In addition, when data collecting requires sit-down space, mobile write-up stations can be transported into the lab.
Mobile carts are ideal for storing equipment. Mobile carts, commonly used as computer workstations in research labs, allow computer hardware to be stacked and then moved to equipment stations.
Mobile base cabinets come in a variety of drawer and door configurations and are supplied with a counterbalance to keep them from toppling over. In addition, locks can be added to the drawer units. Mobile cabinets are typically 29 inches tall, allowing them to be placed beneath most sit-down benches.
A computer cabinet that can be connected to the robotic analyzers can also be built into a mobile cabinet. A pullout shelf for the server and a pullout tray for the keyboard in front of the monitor are included in carts, as well as a cable management system.
Use the Full Volume of the Lab Space
Today’s labs are heavily reliant on equipment and demand as much bench space as feasible. Therefore, stacking equipment and supplies to fill the entire lab space can be very useful and cost-effective.
As previously indicated, mobile carts can be utilized to stack computer hardware and other lab equipment. In addition, overhead cabinets provide storage above the bench, maximizing the available area. Instead of cabinets, adjustable shelving can be used to provide flexibility.
Adjustable shelving allows the researcher to employ the exact amount of shelves needed and the appropriate height and spacing. For example, if tall equipment is placed on the bench, the shelf can be removed to make room for it.
Overhead Service Carriers
An overhead service carrier is suspended from the structural floor system’s underbelly. Utility services are carried above the ceiling and connected to the overhead service carrier. For fast hookups to the overhead service carriers, utility services that are conducted above the ceiling should have quick connect and disengage facilities.
Wet and Dry Labs
Wet labs and dry labs are common in research centers. Sinks, piped gases, and, in most cases, fume hoods are available in wet labs. Additionally, chemical-resistant counters, 100 percent outside air, and some fixed casework are required in wet labs.
Dry labs are typically computer-intensive, with extensive electrical and data wiring requirements. Their casework is movable, and they have adjustable shelving and countertops made of plastic laminate.
Additional Tips for Your Laboratory Design
If done incorrectly, even the smallest detail can have a negative impact on lab function and safety/biosafety, thus it’s critical to get these areas just right for the people that utilize them. Here are a few additional items to consider when designing your lab.
Although some facilities may have less extensive storage demands than others, it is still important to seek choices that will allow your workspace storage to increase if needed in the future. One of the most crucial factors for all laboratory facilities to maintain optimum productivity, concentration, precision, and safety is having appropriate spaces to keep tools, supplies, and personal things without generating cluttered work surfaces.
Viewing a computer or monitor and utilizing a keyboard and mouse are commonplace in most laboratory facilities. Working on a monitor for numerous hours at a time, on the other hand, can result in back and neck discomfort. Therefore, look for workplaces that support comfortable monitor placement and make it easy to move the display out of the way when not in use when acquiring computer workstations.
Every employee’s comfort and freedom of movement are dependent on their ability to move freely inside their work areas, which includes sitting and standing. Therefore, not only do lab technicians need to be able to utilize the ergonomic workstation without feeling restricted, but they also need to be able to handle many pieces of equipment and documentation at the same time. In addition, lab personnel can spread their work out more easily in their research facilities if they have enough room.
When planning your lab, it’s vital to include safety elements. A well-designed lab allows researchers to focus on their tasks rather than being too concerned about crises and accidents.
Researchers’ ventilation systems should be customized to their activities so that they can complete their jobs to the best of their abilities while knowing that all necessary measures have been taken. Biosafety cabinets, fire suppression systems, emergency showers/eyewash stations, and well-designated emergency exits should all be easily accessible.
To avoid potential safety hazards and code violations, planning for suitable and adequate storage is crucial in any laboratory with heavy chemistry and chemical research. Working with health regulators early in the laboratory design phase and interacting with lab users and management can help designers identify the types of chemicals and gases requiring storage and define the forms of maintenance required.
Accessibility, Location, and Layout
When designing a lab, keep the location and layout in design and the lab’s adaptability. Change can be tough once everything is in place, but these challenges can be avoided if you account for preparation and design flexibility into your lab from the beginning.
Although it may appear that sizing a lab to meet user needs is a given, a visit to a lab facility will frequently find that this is not the case. Failure to correctly size the lab to suit user needs can result in a lack of equipment storage space or limited growth, and limited lab functionality.
No matter how big or small your laboratory is, the lab design process design involves a significant amount of planning ahead of time. The lab may be adjusted to the needs of the research, and unnecessary elements can be easily detected, thus brainstorming with individuals who will be using the facilities is vital.
This is a hot topic in laboratory design because it is critical to incorporate all stakeholders and the design team early and often in the design process, but it can also present a number of challenges. Laboratory designers and lab planners benefit from collaboration with laboratory professionals because it allows them to achieve a level of precision that is especially important in the event of a unique or uncommon scientific study.
Most importantly, starting the project with an all-hands-on-deck kick-off meeting with the design team establishes a shared vision for the final product, which can later be used to ensure consistent execution throughout the laboratory design phases. This may seem self-evident, but walking into a lab where wall-mounted piping collides with shelves or electrical gadgets collide with casework is all it takes to observe the harmful effects of poor coordination.
Plan Your Laboratory Design With Us Today
Having the correct lab furniture is vital for providing a professional workstation for your lab employees, whether you are building a new lab from the ground up or refurbishing an old lab. At LabTech Supply Company, we remain committed to maintaining the best industry standards to move the custom lab furniture market ahead.
We have been providing customers with a comprehensive list of lab equipment and lab furniture for all types of laboratory environments for over 30 years, and we can’t wait to help you. We manufacture all of its products in the United States, ensuring that our customers receive only the highest-quality lab equipment available.
If you’re in the process of designing a new laboratory or have plans to redesign an existing lab environment, contact LabTech Supply Company today to learn more about how we can help furnish your lab with the best lab equipment and furniture available.