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Biotechnology Lab Design

7 Best Practices for Biotech Lab Design

We live in an age where breakthroughs in biotechnology are occurring at an increasingly fast rate. From silicon biology to advances in medicine, the trends in biotech are exciting to watch. The driver behind the new products and services coming to market is, of course, the creativity, commitment, and perseverance of the individuals and organizations in the many diverse areas of biotechnology including lab design.

Supporting them in their work are the experts in engineering, design, and facility management who give them the carefully crafted, highly efficient spaces they need to be productive. It’s safe to say that virtually every biotechnology advance that is benefiting humanity today had its origin in a lab. It’s also true that functional lab spaces, like groundbreaking biotech discoveries, generally don’t happen by chance. There is an art and a science behind the development of effective work areas.

Key Biotechnology Lab Design and Facility Management Considerations

Whether a lab is being designed to focus on biotechnology, energy, specialty chemicals, or pharmaceuticals research, effective lab design and facility management are critical. Building a successful lab requires detailed planning and effective collaboration between the engineers, designers, and company stakeholders.

To ensure that a biotech facility is optimized to produce excellent results, it is important to follow these seven lab design best practices:

  1. Involve all stakeholders from the start.
    It’s not uncommon for the scientists who will use a space not to be consulted until initial designs have been developed. However, their input is much more valuable at the point where the design is first being considered. Getting their insight both early in the design process and throughout the initiative can prevent costly design revisions and construction delays.
  2. Have a comprehensive list of stakeholders.
    While the lab is being built for researchers, they aren’t the only people who will spend time there. Company management may need to provide tours to investors, the media, and others. The facility management team will need to maintain the space and perform repairs and upgrades. Outside consultants may be brought in on certain projects. An effective lab is designed to accommodate the needs of everyone who will visit or work in the space.
  3. Address transparency, security, and safety issues upfront.
    Lab design often must take into account competing interests. The trend toward “transparent” research that can be viewed by visitors or inspectors may conflict with the need to protect trade secrets. And those concerns must be viewed in light of safety requirements around containment, ease of egress, etc. It is important to find the right balance early on.
  4. Plan for expansion.
    There are significant costs associated with building a biotechnology research facility. However, limiting the size of the lab in an effort to control costs can cause issues down the road when there is no room to accommodate new projects and additional staff. A successful design includes adequate space for expansion or at least lays out the space in a way that makes later additions easier.
  5. Consider all facility management process flows.
    How will materials be moved into and out of the space? Will door and aisle widths accommodate the delivery or removal of large equipment? Ensuring there is sufficient space for the facility management team to operate is very important.
  6. Plan for raw material and waste storage.
    While the design of the space where research and experiments are conducted is critically important, so is the space allotted for the storage of the materials needed in those experiments and the waste produced by them.
    Develop a comprehensive equipment list. The last thing you want when building a biotechnology research facility is to realize late in the process that there is no room to accommodate a large piece of equipment that perhaps is rarely used (or thought about) but crucial in certain scenarios.

Successful Biotechnology Research Begins with a Blueprint

The work done before the first day of research can have a significant impact on the success of that research. Building a lab the right way takes time, effort, and patience. However, the payoff in the efficiency and effectiveness of the work performed there is very much worth it.

Our full-service engineering and design firm can help you build the perfect biotechnology lab for your purposes. We have 30+ years of experience helping our clients meet their engineering, design, project and portfolio management, capital planning, and environmental health & safety needs. Contact APECS, Inc. today to learn more about how we can help with biotech lab design and facility management.

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