Unlocking Your Lab's Potential: Space Planning Tips to Maximize Real Estate

In response to the shifting climate in the biotech and life sciences market, organizational leaders are looking for ways to stretch their funding further. With real estate being, in many cases, the largest expense on the corporate ledger, life sciences organizations should perform a critical analysis of their lab operations to identify opportunities to maximize efficiency. In doing so, leaders may discover they can reconfigure their spaces or functions to streamline processes, accommodate more employees and avoid unnecessary real estate costs. Below are a handful of areas where our team commonly sees opportunity for more efficient operation.

One of the biggest obstacles in space optimization is a lab's consumable inventory. Many labs become short on space due to the overwhelming number of consumables that are stocked as "point-of-use" along with bulk inventories of items. Particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, companies had to stockpile common items like gloves and pipet tips to avoid any interruption to daily experiments. Unfortunately, many labs had no place to store this abundance of inventory other than their existing lab spaces. Establishing a centralized order-place system for commonly used supplies and items can help mitigate inventory issues, prevent repeated/redundant orders, reduce the number of different brands on like items and maintain appropriate stock levels. Additionally, designating areas for bulk storage allows operators to manage inventory stocks better and also removes cardboard from the lab, which can be a major source of contamination.

Scientific equipment is another common offender when it comes to lab inefficiency. Equipment redundancy and site unpreparedness are two pitfalls that many labs experience when acquiring and establishing equipment, as the equipment occupies valuable space and can cause disruptions in operations with potential modifications to the lab. An Equipment Management System is a crucial tool to help measure utilization, facilitate an appropriate maintenance schedule and manage consistent reports on the acquisition and disposition of costly equipment. We recommend this not only for specialized instruments but also common equipment such as freezers and centrifuges, which are critical to many labs’ basic functions.

While these examples have helped many of our clients streamline their operations and expand productivity, there is no ‘one size fits all’ guideline that will provide all the answers. It is important to assess your lab and design a system that is tailored to your organization and can scale in alignment with company growth. The ideal system is simple to teach and train, but nuanced enough to include all roles and functions within your organization. Of course, developing a new program and leading a change management program can be overwhelming and time-consuming. We recommend teaming up with industry partners to leverage best practices and proven expertise to get your lab running more efficiently for longer.