Lab Design for detailed operations

The design, layout, and placement of laboratories have significant impact on lab processes, behaviors, and communications. A good Lab design will proactively support lean processes including flow, visual management, standard work, and excellence in workplace organization, whereas a bad design may actually create waste and make flow more difficult.

Careful adaptation of the techniques based on a thorough understanding of laboratory processes will deliver significant benefits in terms of productivity or speed or both.
Leveling, flow, and standard work allow the development of “productive roles” for the more routine work elements in a lab. Doing the routine well and in a productive manner allows more time and resources to be spent on less routine but more valuable development activities.

Lean in the lab shifts the focus of improvement initiatives from individual tests or activities to the flow of samples and data through the total lab process. It uses “leveling” techniques to address workload volatility and generates flow by creating “defined test sequences” that move samples quickly through all required tests and reviews. Test activities are combined into balanced, productive, repeatable analyst roles that use people’s time well (standard work).

A lab design and layout that actively supports these principles will increase the effectiveness and sustainability of the lean processes.

Laboratory areas should be designed to:
Support leveling, flow, and standard work
Leveling, flow, and standard work are key lab principles. Building design to proactively support them normally involves:

• Fewer internal walls and less separation of labs—this promotes flexible operations and the sharing of workloads and resources to level short interval workloads.

• Incorporation of space for sample management and visual cues—visualization of workloads is a core concept.

• Use of sample-centric and/or test-centric cells and cellular bench arrangements—cellular workspace design facilitates the combination of tests to create balanced, productive analyst workloads and standard work, and reduces travel and motion wastes.

• Allowing space for visual management systems of laboratory performance—for example, daily and weekly meeting boards to allow visualization of work to be performed in the short term and of lab performance over time.

Support effective use of people’s time
• Integration of write-up, review, and approval areas, enabling efficient and timely documentation and review of tests supporting both flow and leveling of workloads.

• Use of a limited number of adjacent but separated “hot” desks for project work and non-test tasks.

• Adjacent collaboration areas and meeting rooms.

Minimize “transport” and “motion” wastes

• Location of labs close to manufacturing (simplifying sample management and chain of custody).

• Central location of shared lab services (e.g., glass wash).

• Central location of equipment or storage that will be shared within a lab.
Minimize space and equipment requirements

• Space and equipment requirements should be calculated based on levelled demand rates rather than peaks.

• There should be a move away from personal ownership of equipment, bench space, or desks; analysts should operate as true teams sharing resources and workloads.

• Amalgamation of labs that will share samples, equipment, or storage.
Support effective laboratory inventory management

• Via limited and defined storage at the point of use.

• Central lab storage for shared materials or high-volume unique materials.
Support effective performance management

• By incorporating areas for visual management displays, huddle meetings, etc.

Lab designs are the initial investment towards big projects and therefore above mentioned points must be considered to ensure optimal performance and increased productivity.

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