Monthly Archives: September 2017

Equipment Configuration Feng Shui Can Enhance Lab Safety

RocksEvery lab has its own spatial challenges. In the process of working with lab administrators over the years, we’ve heard about many different configuration obstacles that labs have had to overcome to get their work done. Sometimes, these changes seem to require a Feng Shui expert to get things to align properly—but a better approach is to talk to experts about incorporating custom dedicated lab furniture into your lab.

Aligning Mass Spec Equipment and Lab Safety

Research labs, academic labs, and clinical labs all have their own unique set of priorities and necessary outcomes, and for each, the ideal lab configuration is different. When you consider the shape and dimensions of the space you’re working with, there’s simply no way to have a “one size fits all” solution. Instead, it’s best to align your spatial limitations and equipment support needs to determine the best setup for a well-organized space—one that will prevent lab accidents from happening and keep workflow moving as efficiently as possible. When your furniture is crafted with the task in mind, even personnel posture can be improved.

Making Lab Arrangements Work and Prevent Lab Accidents

The shape and size of your mass spec and other key instrumentation will determine a lot of what you can and can’t do within your lab space. For example, we had a customer with a Shimadzu 8050 alongside a large HPLC system. He also wanted an attached work area for his computer so he didn’t have to trek back and forth to record data. We have an extended lab bench, but the overhang from it would have covered a third of the standard lateral side bench needed for the computer. We worked out a custom solution, using our dedicated lab furniture, which canted the additional work surface to minimize the overlap. The result was a large, sophisticated MS-HPLC system, with workstation, all in a space of between eight and nine feet.

Another issue arises when labs have deep mass specs, such as the Waters Xevo TQ-S. In this situation, we can install access holes for hoses on the back of the IonBench MS instead of on the top, which is our standard configuration. Since the bench is also built on casters, it’s possible to get to those hoses without reaching and climbing—thus decreasing the possibility of accidents and minimizing potential damage when the equipment is moved out for servicing.

Mobility Is the Key to Configuration Success

Casters are key when it comes to arranging your lab. We know of a startup facility in Boston with a beautiful, classic lab design, where everything was aligned perfectly at the beginning to allow for efficient workflow and to prevent lab accidents. Unfortunately, over time, they purchased more and more equipment and had no place to put it.

If they’d set everything on movable lab furniture, they could have easily, repeatedly, and safely rearranged their lab to find a configuration that would work best for them. Ultimately, they had to rent additional space to house their growing collection of equipment. It was a costly alternative that could have been avoided with some planning and forethought about customization and mobility.

Keeping Lab Workspaces Functional

There are several key elements to supporting lab safety through designing functional lab spaces. Fine-tuning your set up will ensure that lab personnel can work safely and efficiently within a space.

You may not even realize your lab configuration is inefficient, because you’ve become so used to working around the inefficiencies. But there’s a good chance your lab feng shui could be improved. Give us a call to talk about your unique spatial challenges and we’d be happy to explore the many possibilities for customizing your lab configuration.

Pointers for Lab Bench Maintenance and Countertop Care

Do's & Dont'sRemember the adage about being “part of the furniture?” It usually refers to something or someone that is such a reliable and regular feature that they are taken for granted or seen as a permanent fixture. If you’re fortunate, you might have a long-serving lab tech or two who are like that. The ones that always get their jobs done, and are generally low-maintenance. Even those steadfast lab techs need occasional attention, and so does your dedicated lab furniture.

All furniture—even incredibly durable dedicated lab furniture—requires proper care. We’ll share some cleaning and maintenance tips that will address the dos and don’ts of keeping your lab furniture and countertops in tip-top shape.

Lab Bench Vulnerabilities

But first—what are the risks? Unless a surface is made of diamonds or a solid sheet of Q-carbon (and frankly, could you afford to have it in your lab if it was?), any surface is vulnerable to damage if not cared for properly. Lab bench countertops can be damaged by any of the following:

  • Immense weight—stacking too much equipment on one surface can cause structural damage to the average bench. Good news is, our IonBench is equipped with specially-built casters that help support heavy equipment. The weight of equipment can also lead to…
  • Scratches and dents—something that is much more likely to happen with laminate, but can still damage Chem Res™ and other epoxy resin countertops if one is not careful.
  • Spilled solvents—which is why it’s critical to clean up any spill in your lab long before it has a chance to seep into cracks or the seams of the countertop (our countertop is seamless in design, to help eliminate risk of damage).
  • Heat and flame—fire-resistant (which our countertops are) does not mean fireproof, which is why no lab experiment should ever be left unattended.

Lab Bench Maintenance Will Extend the Life of Your Furniture

The epoxy resin used for the IonBench LC and the Chem Res™ countertops used for other IonBench products are largely heat, moisture, and flame resistant. With proper lab bench care, these types of countertops can last for many years.

Here are some tips for preserving the shine and maximizing the longevity of your new countertop.

  • Avoid cleaning liquids and supplies that contain abrasives. These can dull or scratch that new-bench shine.
  • Avoid waxes, or polishes that contain wax.
  • Use mild dish soap and water for daily cleaning.
  • With major spills, avoid volatile cleaning compounds such as acetone or paint thinner, which can permeate the lab and compromise future analysis results. Crystal Simple Green is a much safer lab bench care option.
  • Avoid scouring pads, except for white Scotch-Brite® Light Duty pads—which must always be used wet.
  • We prefer chamois cloths, which are both absorbent and gentle. If those are a little too costly for your budget, cotton rags and towels will also work.
  • Metal equipment can mar the surface. Ensure that the rubber feet of your various types of equipment are present and intact.
  • If scratches do result from metal contact, use the cleaning process above and apply extra elbow grease to remove any minuscule amounts of metal that may get left behind.

The bottom line is that nothing, and no one, should be considered just “part of the furniture.” There are many different aspects that can contribute to your lab’s success, and proper care of your surfaces is one of them.

To learn more about dedicated lab furniture that is built to withstand the many tests of time and everyday wear, contact us today.