Just as discovery is continually growing, your laboratory needs to adapt. Whether it’s a change in laboratory furniture, supplies, or equipment, you want to keep your lab up-to-date. Here are some things to consider when planning a lab renovation.
Is it time for a lab renovation?
It’s easy to get caught up in new design trends and fancy equipment. It’s essential to evaluate if it’s the right time to make significant changes. Here are a few things that can tell you it’s time to consider a modification:
If your lab is older, you might have an asbestos risk. Whether it was used for overhead insulation, wrapping around pipes, or in the countertops, laps designed before 1999 are at high risk. You’ll also want to check that the size of your fume hoods meets your needs. Safety codes are also updated continuously; make sure you comply.
One of the most persuasive signs that a lab needs an update is if it cannot keep a consistent temperature. Most lab processes are temperature sensitive. Older heating and cooling systems may not respond promptly.
If your team finds themselves constantly recalibrating equipment, it is worth looking into an upgrade. While calibrating is normal, doing so regularly can waste time or alter results.
A lab renovation can be costly and time-consuming. It may be fun to get new equipment from your favorite lab supply company, but you’ll want to plan in such a way to reduce the number of renovations you’ll need in the future. Designing for flexibility can save valuable resources in the long term.
Consider using modular workstations and mobile casework. These allow for multiple configurations that can change with your lab’s needs. Building flexibility might cost a little more than traditional fixed casework, but it will allow for more uses and fewer future renovations.
One area that is often overlooked is ergonomics. Employees may spend a good deal of time sitting but should also have the flexibility to stand or move around. Merely purchasing adjustable stools doesn’t reverse the health risks associated with sitting. Evaluate what lab workers do, motions they make, etc. and then plan accordingly.
Focus on energy-efficient technologies, especially in air quality, water conservation, heating, and exhaust systems. Labs often use substantially more energy and water than an office building of similar size. Using outdated and inefficient systems can cause significant problems and delays or require fail-safe systems at an additional cost. Sustainable labs operate at lower prices and make fewer impacts on the environment.
Since budgets are always tight, it’s easy to look at the cheapest options for lab furniture, equipment, and benchtops. What saves money today might end up costing more tomorrow. Look for lab items that will last, be easy to use, are comfortable, and allow for growth. Some lab managers think they can do a redesign entirely on their own, but it’s often worth the extra cost to hire an experienced lab consultant. These individuals know what to recommend and can make a huge difference.