Better Flexible Lab Design Space Is An Option To Look Into

Life science companies happen to be facing either a rapid expansion or a consolidation because of the fluctuations in market conditions, the requirement to adapt to new processes with rapidly advancing technology, and the rising demands of speed-to-science, with an accelerated demand to get the medicines as well as the therapies faster from bench to patient within the drug discovery process. Similarly, universities as well as institutional laboratories go on to need frequent renovations of the existing labs in terms of recruiting tools in order to attract the brightest as well as the best talent and also embrace the latest research instrumentation.

It is well to be noted that more than ever, lab facilities of all kinds happen to be required to be nimble in order to meet the transitioning needs of laboratory users while at the same time responsibly making use of limited resources and also minimizing downtime along with rework. Running a flexible lab happens to require a flexible lab design. Let us see the four strategies when it comes to designing a more flexible lab.

1. Apply flexible principles when and where it matters

Planning when it comes to flexibility starts during the project’s inception, since the lab managers work with the design team so as to establish project goals and also understand options that make the most sense. Lab managers can go ahead and also inform the team with their valuable insight on day-to-day requirements and growth projections in order to anticipate future needs, core processes, and future technologies that go on to influence how much adaptability and change are required day-to-day and even year-to-year. A balanced approach when it comes to flexibility goes on to yield way better results in the best use of limited resources. Even small renovation projects can go ahead and incrementally implement flexibility within the design principles in order to improve the adaptability of lab space and, at the same time, minimize future redesign.

For instance, movable, adjustable casework goes on to work well in a collaborative open lab environment wherein the users are enabled to go ahead and even modify their workspace that could best fit their requirements and at the same time also improve ergonomics, but it is counterproductive in a lab wherein the benches happen to be assigned to instruments that need careful calibration as well as validation or are sensitive when it comes to vibration. Executing flexible principles in the lab design often requires a culture change that’s associated with how the space gets used. Innovative laboratories happen to be changing space utilization models from a customized-based bench to instrument- or process-based space works, which creates a culture that helps with the sharing of resources and at the same time also supports customization of processes when required, thereby enabling flexibility in the rest of the space.

Yet another strategy to go ahead and maximize flexibility as well as space utilization is the designation of wet-lab as well as dry-lab zones across each space. The wet-lab zones, which are defined as areas where sinks or even other equipment require fixed plumbing, as well as hoods that need exhaust connections or more specific infrastructure, are generally arranged around the perimeter of a room with fixed partitions, whereas the center of the room happens to be leaner and more generic. Similarly, specific and specialized lab support rooms that go on to need more intensive or even customized infrastructure can be arranged closer to the core or spine of the utility distribution, and that too around the perimeter of open lab spaces. This arrangement goes on to minimize the utility runs and even offers easy access to lab support areas anywhere in the open lab.

2. Modular design happens to be the ally

Laboratory designers make use of certain proportions of a room’s length, width, and height, or modules, in order to organize space utilization. A typical design module goes on to range from 10.5 to 12 feet wide and 15 to 24 feet long and has a height of 14 to 18 feet floor to floor, which depends upon the type as well as the complexity of the laboratory. Making use of a module is a valuable tool in order to provide space allocations that can be interchangeable as the program or the department requires them to change over time, while the room sizes and infrastructure allocations go on to stay consistent throughout the building.

Flexibility when it comes to planning begins by designating broad categories pertaining to type and infrastructure intensity within the building program that can be accommodated with the building core as well as shell infrastructure. For instance, a computational lab may go on to need little to no plumbing as well as exhaust and high-power density, while on the other hand, a chemical lab’s energy use will be driven by the number of fume hoods planned as well as the corresponding air volume that has to be managed, and higher floor-to-floor ductwork. Comprehending the mix of laboratory types along with the requirements of each format can go on to assist the design team in terms of planning for flexibility as a whole within the core infrastructure.

It is well to be noted that the best design strategies go on to extend the modular approach to flexible design throughout all disciplines. Structural engineers should go ahead and address the design module when planning column spacing as well as floor-to-floor heights so as to maximize column-free space, putting their hands on the right floor construction systems that can even accommodate future slab penetrations or also openings when it comes to new vertical chases or eradicating portions of the floor, and also designating certain zones having higher loading capacity and also vibration criteria in order to house specialized equipment, such as roof areas.

When planning mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure, HVAC, process utility equipment, and also duct and piping distribution, it can be designed with scalability and flexibility in mind. For instance, running the main piping off a corridor spine goes on to enable certain modules to get valved off, thereby helping modifications sans disrupting the lab operations across other areas. Finally, offering spare space within the vertical chases enables the labs to add exhaust or even piping as required.

3. Looking to the future in addition to the day-one needs

Many laboratories have gone on to adopt plug-and-play infrastructure systems with quick connectors and plugs that enable lab users to eradicate a set of laboratory benches and, at the same time, modify the infrastructure within the utility chase sans any need for demolition or downtime. This helps the labs easily integrate new technologies, such as automation or larger pieces of equipment, in an open lab environment. It is indeed significant for lab managers as well as the users to go ahead and recognize that present needs exist, and the fact is that the equipment matrix represents today’s needs and will change with time. Spare capacity as well as the pathways for future infrastructure happen to be a must. For instance, allowing for electrical as well as data outlets three feet on-center with a raceway, even if not all happen to be designated for the specific instrument on day one, will enable future flexibility if the new piece of equipment gets purchased.

It is well to be noted that good design strategies help with some room for growth synced with projections. For example, reserving allowance for a shell space, an unfinished space in a floor plate that can be fitted out at one of the later dates with provisions in terms of connections to the right-sized infrastructure, can indeed be a very effective way to provide future-proof space for a fast-growing enterprise.

Apart from the physical space, the rising prevalence of Internet-of-Things devices, AI, and other data-intensive tools goes on to mean that the new labs happen to be equipped with information technology backbones as well as data center infrastructure, which can go ahead and support more intensive data collection as well as management in the future.

4. A broad approach in terms of flexibility can go ahead and support diversity as well as inclusion and reduce your carbon footprint

Designing with flexibility in mind can indeed go on to support a company’s environmental, social, and governance goals. Flexible lab environments can decrease carbon impact and emissions by limiting waste in terms of demolition and renovation cycles throughout the life of the building, which is an investment that can also go on to reduce expenses and downtime in the days to come. Moreover, offering a workspace with flexibility so as to adapt to individual user needs in as well as out of the lab also enables support for an inclusive along with a diverse workforce.

Some of the instances include lab furnishings with the ability to be reconfigured to different heights, adjustable task lighting, and supportive seating when it comes to leaning positions. Outside of the lab, other scenarios might be offering places of respite wherein the lab users can go on to take a break from the harsh lighting as well as the sterile environment of the lab, offering a variety of work settings with varied levels of privacy for partnership as well as head-down work, and also promoting well-being by way of biophilic strategies like providing access to views of the outdoors.

The fact is that thoughtful application when it comes to flexible design principles within the lab design or renovation can go a long way in terms of positively impacting the workplace conditions, decreasing the carbon impact across the life of the building, and at the same time lessening the costs associated with rework and also downtime.