Monthly Archives: October 2014

Purchasing Tips for Dedicated Lab Furniture

dedicated-lab-furniture-purchasingWhen it comes to outfitting—or retrofitting—your lab, a number of important considerations need to be kept in mind. Unlike the standard college classroom or commercial marketing office, there are specific issues that can make standard furniture completely inappropriate, and even dangerous, in a lab environment. Lab furniture will also differ from home or office furniture in size and weight. As you plan to purchase dedicated furniture for your laboratory here are some important tips to consider.

  1. Think about the future, not just the present. It doesn’t matter whether you work in a cutting-edge research lab with lots of funding, or an academic institution where you won’t expect to see any more new lab furniture before you retire. It’s important to consider how these pieces are going to function, not just today, but also ten, fifteen, or even thirty years from now. If you’re not certain, take some time to brainstorm with colleagues about future needs, so you can rely on this new lab furniture to do the job for many years to come.
  2. Measure twice, buy once. Dedicated lab furniture tends to be deeper than standard office furniture because it is designed to hold multiple pieces of lab equipment that come in a variety of sizes and shapes. If you have an older lab space or building, you will probably have to deal with standard-sized doors and hallways, which might not be wide enough to accommodate newer lab furniture. Take the time to measure and be certain your new lab furniture can easily and safely be installed in your older building—before you sign that purchase agreement.
  3. Figure out where everything will go ahead of time. When outfitting or retrofitting a lab, there’s a lot to consider besides the furniture. Once the lab bench is in place, is there room for your water chillers, compressed air and/or gas tanks, and gas flows and other outlets? Another important consideration is the location of your electrical outlets. If you purchase a taller, standing lab bench or workstation, will that height block the outlets? It’s critical to make sure you can safely power all the instrumentation that you plan to put on, or adjacent to, your new lab furniture.
  4. Dedicated lab furniture must be biologically and chemically resistant. This is the reason why buying standard office furniture for a lab can actually be a dangerous proposition. Spills happen, accidents occur, and you need lab furniture that will not become part of the problem when something unexpected happens. It’s also critical that all lab furniture is easy to keep clean, so you don’t risk an unwanted chemical reaction by accidentally allowing materials to come into contact with leftovers from a previous spill.

If you’re looking to purchase furniture for your lab, we can help. Contact us for information and answers to your questions about how dedicated lab furniture can improve safety and reliability in your workplace.

Why Lab Benches for Mass Spectrometry Are So Important

lab-benches-for-mass-spectrometryWorking in a lab can be pretty hectic. This goes double if you’re working with a mass spectrometer: Too much vibration from roughing pumps can be an expensive hazard to your instruments, while excessive noise can be a hazard to your health.

That’s why it’s important to ensure your lab bench can handle the unique rigor of mass spectrometry work. In order to do that, it’s essential to have a dedicated lab bench.

What Should Your Lab Furniture Do?

It’s important to understand what will be required of a lab bench for mass spectrometry. By doing so, you’ll see why making an investment in dedicated lab furniture is worth the price. Below are some basic considerations:

1. Your lab bench needs to be big enough to accommodate large and heavy instruments. This might seem like a no-brainer, but that’s also why it’s so easy to overlook. Ideally, your bench should be able to support at least 500-700 pounds.

2. Your lab bench needs to allow for the connection of peripherals. This includes vacuum pumps, computers, and other equipment. You want to make sure your dedicated lab bench can handle any task you might throw at it. It should be deep enough to accommodate not only the instruments you use, but any necessary peripherals, their connections and of course, you.

3. Your lab bench needs to reduce noise and vibration as much as possible. As mentioned before, unmediated vibration can prove expensive, and too much noise can lead to hazardous working conditions. If your bench isn’t keeping your turbo molecular pump safe from vacuum-pump-generated vibrations, you’re going to be learning an expensive lesson about the necessity of dedicated lab furniture. And without a bench capable of dampening sound, the acoustic noise generated by roughing pumps can rise to excessive levels, making it much more difficult to hear anyone or anything in the laboratory.

4. Ideally, your lab bench should be movable and versatile. Lab furniture is already trending in this direction as labs become increasingly agile (and crowded). Your bench should be movable enough to adapt to the fast-changing pace of modern labs, and tough enough to hold up to the accompanying wear and tear. Bottom line: Not only should a dedicated lab bench be tough and sturdy, but it should be easy to move.

What Types of Lab Benches for Mass Spectrometry Are Out There?

While noise, vibration, and convenience are important considerations when comparing lab benches for mass spectrometry, there are fortunately products out there built specifically to address these issues. One in particular that does a superb job of hurdling the obstacles of mass spectrometry work is the IonBench MS.

Reducing noise by better than 75 percent, decreasing vibration, and moving easily on its caster mountings, the IonBench MS is designed to make lab work safer and more reliable. Any way you slice it, a dedicated lab bench is worth the investment on many levels.

Contact us for information about how dedicated lab furniture can improve the safety and reliability of your laboratory.

Lab Safety: How to Reduce Equipment Noise

lab-safety-noise-reductionIn a perfect world, professional laboratories would be more like the ones on TV shows like “CSI.” Large, quiet spaces with one or two workers calmly and quietly going about their work process. In the real world, those same workers are more likely heading home at the end of the day with a splitting headache from all the noise and activity they deal with on a daily basis. And those headaches could be a warning sign their work lab isn’t addressing one of the key factors of lab safety – noise.

How to tell if your lab is too noisy

So what is “too noisy” from a practical standpoint? When it comes to lab safety, if staff members are wearing ear protection, or noise-canceling headphones, that’s a good indicator that your lab is too noisy. If your voice is hoarse from yelling, your lab is too noisy. If people are taking time off from work because of hearing or voice issues, chances are your lab is too noisy. If mistakes are being made because people can’t hear each other, then your lab is definitely too noisy.

What are the noise recommendations to maintain lab safety?

So what is “too noisy” from a regulatory standpoint? While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does set lab safety regulations, those are only focused on decibel levels that are damaging for human hearing (85 or higher). That’s certainly a valid concern for all staff members, but it’s not the only problem. If you can’t hear a colleague speak, you’ve got a much greater chance for mistakes to be made, and speech isn’t intelligible once the noise level exceeds 55 decibels. In fact, separate from its noise regulations, OSHA does set a “recommendation” (on a fact sheet for laboratory safety noise) of 55 decibels.

Many cities and towns have also set decibel limits for machines. For example, New York City states that the noise from a commercial air conditioner must not exceed 42 decibels when measured from three feet away from the unit, and the cumulative noise of all such air conditioners on one building must not exceed 45 decibels at that three-foot distance.

What lab machines are causing lab safety problems?

New York City’s ordinance illustrates that noisy machines are a fact of life—and also a problem. The same is true in a lab: Although we need various lab machines to get our work done, a number of them can pose a lab safety hazard. These include:

  • Compressors on industrial refrigerators and freezers
  • SEM and MS vacuum pumps
  • Fume hood blowers
  • Cooling fans
  • Nitrogen generators

You can probably add a number of other machines to this list as well.

Addressing lab safety noise issues with dedicated lab furniture

So what can you do about all the noise in your lab? To start with, don’t accept it as an inevitable part of conducting lab work. When setting up a lab or installing a new machine, make sure to check the specs for noise production, then isolate those noisy devices. Sometimes you can actually put large, noisy machines into an adjacent room that will acoustically remove the excessive noise. At other times, if it’s a relatively small device, you can enclose it with foam, removing most of the noise from the surrounding workspace.

However, the most efficient and effective way to reduce noise is by installing dedicated lab furniture that is specifically designed to remove noise. For example, lab benches for mass spectrometry can reduce vacuum pump noise as much as 75 percent by enclosing vacuum pumps in cabinets lined with acoustical foam and equipped with silent cooling fans. Dedicated enclosures can also be designed to reduce the noise of other lab equipment, making your lab a more pleasant place to work and also improving your lab safety record.

If this sounds like an answer to your headaches, contact us for more information. We’re happy to answer your questions about how dedicated lab furniture can improve safety and reliability in your laboratory.