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Pinpointing Equipment Needs: Foundational to Lab Design & Construction | Lab Manager
This article – based on an in-depth interview with Genesis AEC’s Greg Lundell, the Director of Asset Management (previously Equipment Services), and Stephanie DeLuca, the Director of Lab Planning – sheds light on the necessity of strategic equipment planning as a foundational element of laboratory design and construction. Both professionals possess a rich history of work within the spheres of research, development, operations, and quality management across various sectors such as diagnostic, industrial, and biological product research and manufacturing organizations.
- A successful lab design appreciates and understands the symbiotic relationship between people, processes, and equipment.
- Strategic planning for lab equipment is instrumental in shaping a lab’s layout since it influences space planning, casework, and utility requirements.
- An equipment coordinator is critical, serving as the single point of contact for the entire project team throughout the project lifecycle. Focusing on this role at the forefront of the design process can significantly enhance the lab’s design coordination, productivity, innovation, and performance. It embodies the integrated approach to lab design, where all aspects — from people, processes, equipment, to space — are holistically considered. The benefits of such an approach are immense. It leads to enhanced efficiency, reductions in design fees, minimization of churn (unwanted oscillations or variations in output), and reduced impact on cost, timeline, or the need for redesign.
- Equipment-driven planning guides critical design decisions, such as whether to opt for a lab that’s fit-for-purpose or one with more embedded flexibility. A fit-for-purpose lab is specifically tailored for a single type of research or work. For instance, a DNA sequencing lab will be designed differently from a robotics lab due to the differing equipment needs. In contrast, a lab with embedded flexibility is versatile and designed to accommodate various types of work or research, making it suitable for multidisciplinary scientific investigations.
- Early identification of equipment-specific considerations during the design process should be a priority. This means taking into account the unique requirements and specifications of both the equipment and the lab users. For example, certain types of analytical equipment (devices used for qualitative or quantitative measurements in an analysis) might necessitate the provision for solvent storage, disposal, gases, and electrical connections. In the case of using hazardous materials, safety installations such as a fume hood (a ventilated enclosure in a lab) or a biosafety cabinet (a ventilated workspace for safely handling pathogens) may be required.
- Each project stakeholder: lab users, scientific leaders, lab managers, company leaders, facility managers, health and safety experts, among others, brings a unique perspective and set of needs to the table. However, despite each one understanding the purpose of lab equipment from their standpoint, they often lack the comprehensive view needed to design a fully integrated and functional space.
- Multiple stakeholders can also lead to gaps in information, oversight, and consequently increased costs and wasted time. Yet, the designation of a single “owner” of a comprehensive equipment list can solve this. This streamlined approach allows for central tracking and communication of critical aspects such as equipment dimensions, utility requirements, IT or software needs, and budget considerations.
In conclusion, the article firmly places strategic equipment planning and coordination at the heart of successful laboratory design and construction. It showcases that the process is not only about the physical construction of the lab space but also about strategic organization and management of processes and resources. An integrated and coordinated approach ensures lab designs that are efficient, user-centric, and innovative, ultimately paving the way for optimal laboratory performance.
- Casework: Design and installation of cabinetry and workspaces in a lab.
- Fume Hood: A ventilated enclosure in a lab to handle hazardous substances safely.
- Biosafety Cabinet: A ventilated workspace for safely handling pathogens.
- Churn: Unwanted oscillations or variations in output.