Laboratories are critical for an incredibly wide range of industries, from wastewater treatment plants to the food industry and pharmaceutical R&D. However, lab design has a major impact on factors ranging from usability to safety, ergonomics, and even productivity. As you can imagine, it is important to plan effectively to create the ideal space for your unique needs and processes. Below, we’ll explore some of the top tips for designing a lab in 2020.
No matter your industry, safety should take precedence when it comes to lab design. Most laboratory accidents are due to human error, and while you cannot remove risk completely, you can reduce the level of risk within the lab. The most commonly seen accidents in a laboratory setting include the following:
- Chemical leaks
- Electrical shock
Include solutions to help combat these threats in your lab design. For instance, are the aisles wide enough for employees to pass easily without bumping into equipment or tables? Is there a clear flow of traffic for evacuation purposes? Do you have adequate eyewash stations, fire extinguishers, fume hoods, fire blankets, and a modern fire suppression system? These are just some of the safety considerations you’ll need to make during the planning stages.
Get All Stakeholders Involved
All stakeholders should be included during the lab design process. This includes owners, lab users, lab managers, faculty and staff if applicable, and facilities and maintenance, as well. Each group will bring unique perspectives to the process and help inform your design. It can require additional time, but when all stakeholders are involved from the beginning, you’re able to avoid costly holdups and problems that might affect the lab’s design and construction
Some of the things that must be taken into account during the planning process include the following:
- Goals and lab function
- Workflows and processes
- Storage requirements, ceiling heights, finishes, lab equipment types, emergency power
- Future growth and lab flexibility
By including all stakeholders and working with the right lab designer, you can ensure that all of these elements are included in the planning and design process.
Plan for Storage
Storage planning should be a key part of the lab design process. Labs often rotate equipment from storage to use and back, whether we’re talking about extra tables and carts, chemicals, or something else. The right storage planning is essential to success. Consider some of the following during your lab design process:
- Raised storage is required to keep chemicals off the floor.
- Shelving units should include a raised lip along the outer edge to prevent items slipping off.
- Liquid chemicals should be stored in sealed cabinets (or in unbreakable packaging).
Understand the amount of storage space your lab will need and plan for it early on to ensure that it’s built in from the beginning. Consider not just the chemical storage requirements, but also equipment that may need to be stored, yet accessible day-to-day. Drawers versus cupboard storage also presents different capabilities so ensure that you have a good mix of both, and plan the right ratios for your lab needs. Realizing after the fact that you don’t have enough space may mean usability problems and safety issues.
Know the Requirements
What are the lab’s needs and requirements? What are the minimum metrics your lab design must meet? For instance, how many staff members will use the lab regularly? The answer to this question will affect things like the size of the lab, as well as setup, and more. What materials will be required? What processes will be used?
When you know the requirements, you can plan effectively and we can design a lab that’s the right size, that optimizes productivity and workflows, and that puts employee safety first.
Think about Control Areas
Understand that current trends in lab design and functionality are toward greater transparency, with a focus on “showing your research”. Lab planners and designers must be able to create a space with the right aesthetics, but doing so requires determining control areas early on. Doing this will require that you define the type and quantity of chemicals that will be used – combustible, explosive, corrosive, etc. Based on this information, HVAC ducts can be routed correctly, fume hoods can be planned, room exits can be designed, and other controls can be put into place.
Know the Equipment
Finally, make sure you have a comprehensive list of lab equipment that will be used. This will impact layout and design in many ways, including things like the type of casework used, the location of power and data connections, plumbing and HVAC routing, and even spatial planning within the lab.
Turn to Laboratory Design & Supply, The Lab Design Specialists
At Laboratory Design & Supply, we are a proud minority owned and certified small business with over 23 years of experience in cutting-edge laboratory design and offer a full suite lab design service that is totally customized to your lab needs. We also offer over 10,000 lab design products and freeform materials, with many readily available right now. Contact us today for a free consultation on your lab design or individual product requirements. We guarantee a cost estimate within 72 hours, and our team of specialists will work closely with you and your team to ensure a superior lab design is delivered.