Designing new vivarium or labora- tory spaces (collectively referred to as laboratories/labs in this
article), or expanding existing ones is
an expensive undertaking. Laboratories
are being challenged to reduce their
operational expenses, improve spatial
efficiency, reduce lead times, increase
Spaces designed with the traditional
lab planning approach, which is usually
based on architecturally-driven discussions and getting the ‘wish list’ from
user-groups, have become cost prohibitive and operationally inefficient. Typical
items addressed by the traditional method
include themes such as, increased natural
lighting; larger open labs; touch-down
areas; and flexible casework/utilities, to
name a few. Although these themes are
important and provide the humanistic
touch, a balance must be struck between
them and operational or spatial efficiency
aspects, as well as resource (
equipment, personnel, or space) utilization.
Workflow-Centric Design addresses the
shortcomings of traditional methods for
planning laboratory spaces.
We define workflow as a series of
steps (activities, events, interactions and
communications) through which work
processes transform and creates or adds
value towards the organization’s goal.
Visually depicting the workflows can
help identify improvement opportunities.
The heart of workflow-centric design is
to propose improvements by developing
a better understanding of the value-add
activities, optimizing resource sharing
opportunities, reducing travel distances
and times, improving safety, and increasing collaboration opportunities.
At a high level, workflow-centric
design consists of the following elements:
• Identifying the set of activities repre-
senting the work to be accomplished.
• Associating responsibilities, times, and
resources (equipment, personnel and
space) to complete the given activities.
• Linking the set of activities to complete the flow. From a computational
perspective, workflow can be thought
as directed graphs with nodes and
edges—nodes correspond to operations
and the edges specify the flow of physical tangible artifacts, personnel, or
information between those operations.
This creates the baseline workflow.
• Identifying improvement opportunities
in the baseline workflow—(1) Within
the nodes, e.g. low equipment or
personnel utilization, excessive trans-portation/motion, defects, or other
non-value added activities; and ( 2)
Between nodes, e.g. redundant hand-offs, physical travel, use of multiple
information systems, poor communication, etc.
• Prioritizing these opportunities and
focusing on ones which optimize
resource utilization and overall efficiency.
• Developing layouts taking into account
these improvement recommendations.
WORKFLOW-CENTRIC DESIGN IMPROVES
Workflow-centric animal research space
planning has to be able to accommodate
new systems for housing animals which
are more specialized and efficient than
ever before. They also must be ever more
adaptable, to accommodate wide-ranging
species and scientific approaches.
Design recommendations developed over
decades, and carefully refined in recent
years to suit workflow-centric criteria,
have helped research clients to apportion
vivarium space more effectively.
The groundwork for the new
space allocation methods began in
Creating Leaner Labs