Building (or refurbishing) laboratories is a costly and time-consuming activity for a company. Poorly designed spaces can be costly in terms of lost productivity, slower turn around times and higher inventory of equipment and consumables. It is also common for the process to become a bartering exercise between groups for space, equipment and resources.
1. How will the space be used?
It is important to incorporate input from end users to develop a clear User Requirement Specification. This can also include assessment of other lab spaces within the company (and adopting best practice learnings) and benchmarking against industry standards. Alongside this there should be a clearly documented process to understand and assess the flow of samples, data and even people in the space. This should also include the locations of equipment, consumable storage and write up areas/hot desks.
2. How much space will be needed?
As mentioned above the process can often become a balancing exercise between different groups and demands. This can be addressed through a data driven analytical approach to determine the levelled demand requirement for space, equipment and resources to ensure a truly lean design. It will also result in a robust understanding of the overall capacity of the organisation. The analysis can also be extended to include forecasted changes in volume or product mix which leads to the third question.
3. How might future changes in usage be achieved?
It is often straightforward to design a space which works for the current processes and demands but it is important to consider how the business might change in the future. This can include configurable bench space and fixtures and plans for how space can be repurposed as required.
The goal being an ergonomic design to ensure a productive space that supports efficient sample flow, a robust 5S process and clear and concise visual management of workloads. It is also important that the final design should include flexibility for future changes in volumes and activities. Discussing and including lean principles within the design process will result in a fit for purpose and operationally more effective laboratory.
To discuss the potential for incorporating lean principles into your lab design with one of our experts, please contact Adrian.
This blog was written by Adrian Fegan, Consultant at BSM. If you would like further information on Lab Testing please send an email to Adrian Fegan.