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While renting laboratory space within the shelter of the many bio incubators and science parks that have sprung up around the UK may seem a great idea, experience has shown that to convert a standard office building to laboratory use offers many advantages. It can provide a convenient location for your employees, minimising the commute to work (and the impact to the environment) – and as a business owner looking to attract investors, it can provide an unparalleled opportunity for the display of your corporate image and showcase your enterprise as a stand-alone, self-supporting unit.
Case Study – The Native Antigen Co.
During the relocation from the Cherwell Innovation Centre to their current building, a smart, modern unit in Kidlington, The Native Antigen Co. (NAC) asked Kastner to manage the strip out and refurbishment of the entire building, converting the office space into laboratories. Partitions were removed, new ceilings installed, electrical wiring replaced and new flooring fitted. Following this Kastner installed laboratory benches, shelving and underbench storage throughout.
Particular attention was given to the siting and services needed for water purification equipment, glassware washers and an autoclave. A low-level section of benching was provided to accommodate a number of Class ll biological safety cabinets.
As our client, the native Antigen Company proved, to convert a two-storey office into laboratories can be a cost-effective, straightforward and well organised project. And many of the features required in todays modern, interconnected laboratory environments were incorporated into the design.
So – what are these features and can they be designed into your next laboratory?
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is software that allows you to effectively manage samples and associated data. By using a LIMS, your lab can automate workflows, integrate instruments, and manage samples and associated information. By carefully planning the location of key instruments and allowing network points in close proximity to them, LIMS can be facilitated during a laboratory fit-out.
2) Mobile Storage
Mobile storage units on castors (cupboards, drawers or a combination of both) not only meet the requirements for GLP (Good Laboratory Practise) by facilitation of good housekeeping, allowing any spillages to be cleaned up immediately and the floor to be cleaned right to the skirting, but also allow for flexibility in your laboratory layout, so consumables can be moved to a more convenient location for any given laboratory process – or a knee space can be created for an additional laboratory operator.
3) Adjustable height benching
Either fitted with a simple wind-the-handle mechanism or electrically operated, adjustable height benching is useful in many ways. Not only does it cater for laboratory technicians who may vary in stature, allowing for a correct working posture, but also it can greatly help with equipment servicing.
4) Reagent shelving
Island and peninsula benches can be fitted with single or two-tier reagent shelving, down the centre of the bench, providing a convenient place to store bottles and chemicals to prevent them from being knocked over and to free up valuable bench space.
5) Phone charging points
Today more and more laboratory equipment can be accessed and driven from your own iPhone or android and there is a great need for a convenient solution to the problem of constantly charging your mobile device. Induction charging points can be incorporated into laboratory benching to allow contactless phone charging points in convenient locations.
6) LED Lighting
Often overlooked, LED lighting can not only improve the working environment for the operator but brings a smart, modern look to your laboratory impressing auditors, clients and visitors. LED lighting can enhance the reagent storage shelving, or be installed under the rim of the workbench – helping to illuminate the interior of the storage cupboards underneath.