Ideas for Successful Laboratory Design

May 24, 2022

Successful laboratories require considerable preparation, communication, and collaboration between the construction due to its unique needs. Any mistakes in the design can negatively influence lab performance and safety.

Therefore, it is crucial to assess the features and amenities you need for your laboratory and consult with medical suppliers. If you are in the process of building a new lab or need to redesign your current space, here are some helpful design considerations that you can apply during the design stage.

1. Space Requirements

Will you use the available space or relocate to a new location? Or are you looking to expand an open area? These are some questions that you can ask yourself before proceeding to the design phase. By determining space requirements, you can envision the results after construction.

Although the dynamics of modern laboratories widely vary due to technological developments, the dimensions of the room often stay the same. For instance, it's critical to examine internal efficiencies to establish the options.

2. Determine the Equipment

For every workflow diagram, specify and include every piece of equipment. What will be the best location for the equipment? Is there more than one procedure that utilizes the same amount of hardware, and will be purchasing a duplicate minimize movement? How much activity will this eliminate. It is also important where you procure the equipment from, specifically something as crucial as a fraction collector.

3. Dynamics

Dynamics is the intended function of your laboratory. It will influence the system and material qualities you select for your lab. Consider if you're going to use strong acids or bases or if you require any heat resistance. Are you going to be in an environment with much humidity? Do you stain using harsh chemicals? These are a few things you need to bear in mind.

Most of the time, there is no ideal all-around material for a laboratory workbench or sub straight. Examine the current issues you're facing in your present lab and discover how to conquer each one by speaking with a professional.

4. Comprehending Lineal Workflow

Assessing the current and projected workflow is critical to creating a functional space. Spend the effort to lay out your procedure from beginning to end in a linear approach. Understanding the process can lead you to a more efficient arrangement.

Consider your workflow as a pipeline. How do you obtain your sample? Is it possible to use division of labor to enhance your process making it more efficient? You can use the typical slogan of the industry, "Sample is King," by more extensive process laboratories to describe how crucial it is to consider the workflow of your test and personnel.

5. Visibility

Is it vital for your laboratory to be visible? Do you want to promote openness and transparency? The design and utility spine choices can significantly impact a laboratory's visibility. Large center hanging and floor-mounted amenities create a visual hindrance, especially if you will have loaded shelves on your center islands.

To minimize blockage, utilize slimline utility spines with under-mounted points. The service spine needed depends on the services necessary to enable proper service provision inside the tube.

Regular maintenance can help you save time and money by allowing you to recognize things, consumables, and areas by color on the label. Self-management is also possible, particularly if you can explain visual management clearly and accurately.

6. Determine Control Areas Early in Design

With new design trends favoring open spaces, establishing control early in the design process allows lab designers and developers to create a structure that satisfies all regulatory and safety guidelines. Identifying control zones early on will simplify things by specifying the type and amount of chemicals you will need in the lab.

Failing to identify the highly explosive, flammable, volatile, and possibly toxic chemicals early on can lead to code violations, design challenges, HVAC duct routing issues, and a lack of sufficient chemical storage rooms. You can install airtight and watertight wall access doors for additional safety features to seal the utility areas and protect them from exposure.

Consult with Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) professionals in the early conceptual design stage to define these control areas and determine the types and highest amounts of chemicals present.

7. Integrate Fume Hoods with the HVAC System

Lab designers must collaborate with the team's mechanical engineers to ensure that the various systems like fume vents and the HVAC control system coordinate for lab safety, confinement, and pressurization.

The procedure starts with determining the sorts of fume hoods you will use in the lab, the types of controls required based on the type and amount and incorporating EH&S or building design criteria throughout the planning process.

Such coordination ensures that your systems receive proper air change rates depending on building and lab needs and lab pressure and fume hood confinement.

8. Plan for Chemical Storage

 Planning for suitable and sufficient storage is crucial to prevent possible safety risks and code violations in any lab environment. Designers can determine the sorts of chemicals and gases that require storage and decide the types of biological storage needed by collaborating with EH&S and consulting with lab management and users.

This endeavor fosters a safe, efficient lab environment by removing the possibility of unsuitable, harmful storage on work surfaces or inside fume hoods.

9. Work Closely With Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Engineers to Ensure Well-Coordinated Drawings

Designing a lab with wall-mounted plumbing that can interfere with shelves or electronic equipment is highly discouraged in the construction industry. An ineffective layout can cause headaches for builders and future maintenance personnel and negatively impact the lab's appearance.

The lab designer and architect must collaborate and rigorously back-check designs to create well-coordinated drawings. Technical tools like BIM or Revit can assist but ensure to check your view plane to get a complete picture of space. The mechanical engineer should conduct clash-detection programs and examine the ceiling heights and equipment.

10. Consider Equipment Heat Gains

Consider working in a lab with apparatus that either operates consistently or creates a significant amount of heat at irregular intervals. You will feel unpleasant and less productive at work if the cooling system is not the adequate size, but it will also have a detrimental impact on the life and upkeep of the lab equipment.

Consideration of equipment radiant heat and coordination with the mechanical engineer are critical to lab operation, especially in heat-generating instruments like centrifuges, refrigerators, or ultralow freezers. If the equipment manufacturer cannot supply heat gain statistics, the mechanical engineer can use meticulous calculations to verify that it accounts for sufficient cooling loads in the layout.

The Takeaway

Because many factors influence the design of a laboratory, it is critical that all stakeholders, including scientists, environmental health and safety personnel, facilities managers, engineers, architects, and construction managers, participate. To guarantee that the plan promotes health and safety while increasing productivity, everyone must work together.

Crystal Simmons
Crystal Simmons is a freelance writer and is passionate about helping people. She also has her own blog where she shares her tips and tricks.

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