What an Airline Can Teach You about Lab Design and Dedicated Lab Furniture

Sometimes a lesson learned in one industry can easily be applied to another. The recent passing of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher brought much attention to his progressive thinking. We saw an older article about the airline that sparked some inspiring thought on our part, so we thought we’d share the idea.

It turns out that Southwest Airlines has a wise business philosophy that applies to lab design and the purchasing of dedicated lab furniture.

What Makes Southwest Airlines Special

So, what caught our attention in this article? We noticed that Southwest Airlines’ focus on a single type of airplane makes good business sense in a variety of ways.

By exclusively using Boeing 737s, Southwest only needs to train mechanics on inspecting and repairing, and pilots on flying, a single type of plane. They only need to order and keep a single set of spare parts on hand. They can swap out airplanes at any time, for any reason, without worrying that their crew in a certain city can’t handle the plane if something needs attention before it returns to home base.

How strong is their commitment to this business model? When Southwest purchased AirTran, they leased all AirTran’s other types and models of planes to other airlines, rather than expanding their own fleet. They then used those funds to keep their current business model thriving.

Why This Business Model Works

Think about it for a moment: if you only need to train users on a single type of machine, training takes less time and money. If one mechanic or pilot is out sick, another can easily step in, because they all have the same expertise. Mechanics are also more likely to notice problems because they’re used to seeing each part of each plane looking the same; if something is out of line, they’ll notice right away.

Southwest Airlines also saves big on that inventory of spare parts. Not only do they intentionally limit the types of parts they need to have on hand, they can also order in bulk and receive significant discounts as a result.

How Does This Apply to Lab Design and Dedicated Lab Furniture?

If you’re designing a new lab or renovating an existing facility, it’s best if everything can work well together too. If you purchase dedicated lab furniture from a number of manufacturers, they might not interface as cleanly. Different lab benches might have different heights or widths, hoses might not connect through the same part of the furniture, or the power supply might be located on different sides.

Consistency with design and operation also matters if you need a flexible lab design with lots of moving parts. With a single brand of dedicated lab furniture (and especially if it features industrial-strength caster wheels like IonBench), you can easily move people and processes around your lab without needing to instruct staff on how to use the different benches. Plus, if you buy an attractive line of benches (again, like IonBench), they just all look great in your lab.

Bulk purchasing can also work with dedicated lab furniture. If you’re outfitting a new lab design from scratch, ordering all your benches from one dedicated specialist can save you money in volume discounts, delivery, and time you would otherwise have spent negotiating with a variety of manufacturers.

So are you working up a new lab design? Is it time to upgrade your fleet of dedicated lab furniture? Reach out to Tim Hawkins today (at 1-888-669-1233 or via email) and he can help you see why choosing a single type of dedicated lab furniture is a sound investment.