You may be having a fantastic laboratory and be generating quite a bit of revenue. However, you may need to expand in order to accommodate the additional work being generated.
Like any other business, laboratories need to keep pace with technological advances and customer expectations. In brief, you will need to review your operations from time to time and consider whether or not it is viable for you to expand your existing infrastructure.
Ask yourself first before moving ahead
When expanding a laboratory, it is important to keep in mind the practical aspects of the process. What will happen while the lab is being renovated? How can space and resources be maximized while still maintaining a high level of productivity? Can we convert non-lab space into lab space? These are all considerations that must be addressed before an expansion can be put into action.
Considerations for Effective Laboratory Expansion
In this article, we will explore 8 tips to consider before expanding your laboratory. From the design of the lab itself to the organization of furniture and equipment, we will provide you with the information you need to make your expansion a success.
1. Space and Location
The first step is to consider your space constraints. Will you be utilizing existing space, moving into a new space, or extending an existing space? Each option has its own benefits that you should weigh out before making a decision. For example, staying in the same space has the advantage of familiarity - you already know the area well and it's been approved for use as a lab. Additionally, utilities are already set up and waste disposal protocols have been finalized. On the other hand, if your existing space is completely maxed out with no possibility for expansion, then a new location is essential.
It's no secret that the budget is a major deciding factor in the effectiveness of your lab expansion, but it's not as simple as more money = more success. When estimating the renovation costs of a laboratory that will need to maintain operations, many aspects must be taken into consideration, such as access to the work area and containment of the work area, as well as utility outages and the overall ability for the laboratory to sustain functionality. Another way to save money during a lab redesign is by reusing existing casework and fixtures that are still in good condition. You can either have your own employees inspect each unit, or you can hire a professional lab design company or manufacturer to do it for you.
3. Lab Orchestration
Scientists are often bogged down by routine tasks and paperwork instead of being able to focus on their true passion: science. By introducing LEAN principles to streamline workflows in the laboratory, we can allow scientists to spend more time doing what they do best. LEAN principles can help to optimize and improve laboratory workflows, from sample preparation and extraction to data analysis and results in interpretation. This, in turn, will allow scientists to dedicate more time to being innovative and furthering their knowledge in their field.
4. Functional Flexibility
In renovating or designing a laboratory, you must optimize the capacity for flexibility. With an adaptable lab space, the potential for further expansion is good, new equipment can be brought in when necessary and re-configurations at a future date are possible. The opportunity for adaptation and flexibility often entails many key issues:
* the size of the lab, in terms of the number of workstations and bench space available
* the adjacent workspace (e.g. fume hoods and equipment, storage)
* the clear separation of equipment
* the presence of service spaces (e.g. external, on-site, in other buildings)
5. Storage after expansion
Before starting any renovation project, consider working with Environment, Health, and Safety personnel in order to ensure that all storage and waste policies are followed correctly. You should also collaborate with designers and lab users to identify types of storage for particular chemicals. This will help the project run smoothly and avoid any potential hazards. Additionally, you must consider the position of places where the most hazardous waste is produced. These areas should be in proximity to the waste disposal.
6. Safety Concerns
Prioritize safety in your new lab space by taking the time to identify potential hazards and risks, as well as implementing and testing protocols and workflows. Make sure that all safety equipment such as eye wash, safety showers, fire blankets, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and emergency showers are easily accessible. By planning ahead, you can avoid work stoppages or accidents. Having a Streamlined workflow is another way to ensure safety in the lab workspace. Less clutter, less distraction among workers.
7. Arrangement of equipments
When designing a lab, it's important to think about the flow of your space. For example, if you have a research station, you will want to place it in a place that is easy to access and is near a sink so that you can easily clean up after every experiment. If you are setting up a station for analyzing DNA, it may not be wise to put it near an area that gives off the heat so that you can preserve the integrity of your samples. Think about the space, how the flow of workers will be, and think about where you want to put each station. If you space out your stations, you can make up for it with a wider hallway – just remember to think about accessibility and keeping everything in a neat, organized fashion.
8. Ease of Communication
Laboratory Design should be like it facilitates ease of communication between various workers. Open lab design is useful where researchers share the space and equipment as well as work with the same support staff, which can be better for team-based work. Closed labs, however, may be needed for certain kinds of research or to accommodate certain equipment such as nuclear magnetic resonance equipment, electron microscopes, and darkrooms.
The decision to expand your laboratory is a massive one, and it’s something that you will have to consider at some point, no matter what kind of laboratory you are running. Laboratories are always expanding, whether they are looking to add new equipment or simply add new office space. We hope that our blog post has provided you with some helpful information as you consider this decision!
If you want to read in detail about Effective Space Utilization in Lab, click below.