Lab Design Critical to Modern R&D

A Case Study of Modular Lab Furniture

LabRite Dimension 4 Lab InstallationJust north of San Francisco, CA, Lab-Rite Analytical is manufacturing an advanced, medical device for the treatment of a disease that afflicts millions around the world. With an all-new R&D/manufacturing lab in the works for this instrument, Facility Director, Charles Ingraham had the ability to design and furnish the new R&D lab/manufacturing facility to perfectly suit the company's needs.

As a veteran of lab facility management, Mr. Ingraham had one primary requisite for his design and architectural consultant: no casework furnishings. According to Ingraham, "Constant change is a fact of life in today's lab and assembly environments. We needed production furnishings that were not only functional, but could also be taken apart and reconfigured when needed." Secondarily, Mr. Ingraham wanted the lab to present a sophisticated appearance for visiting customers. Translation: No "ugly steel furniture" that looked better suited for an industrial factory.

The mission to source and install Lab-Rite Analytical's "dream" lab furniture was handed to Bill McMurray of Constructed Solutions, a consultant to Lab-Rite Analytical's interior design firm. "Charles Ingraham made it clear that he wanted Lab-Rite Analytical to be 'future-proofed'," says McMurray. "He wanted the Lab-Rite Analytical labs designed for their current needs, yet still maintain a flexibility to continue well into the future without major new furniture purchases."

LabRite Dimension 4 Lab InstallationMcMurray’s conclusion, readily embraced by Ingraham, was implementation of Dimension 4 Modular Workstations from IAC Industries in Brea, CA. The Dimension 4 is a modular system of cantilever-based extruded aluminum uprights that support a variety of worksurface, shelving, storage, lighting and productivity components. They are remarkably versatile and unlimited in the layouts in which they can be configured—from inline groupings of single- or double-sided workstations to efficient U-shaped production cells.

Lab-Rite Analytical's new device incorporates sensitive electronic components, so electro-static discharge (ESD) protection was critically important. The Dimension 4 workstations feature many design elements specifically for ESD protection; including static-dissipative laminates on worksurfaces and shelves, stainless steel ESD grounding lugs built into the worksurface, and personnel grounding wrist straps and ground blocks.

As an R&D and testing lab, Lab-Rite Analytical utilizes a wide variety of computers and electronic diagnostic equipment. Construction Solution's McMurray explains, "Power and cable management was important to both support the numerous pieces of electronic equipment and maintain an organized working environment. The Dimension 4 was able to cover both bases. The uprights include multiple duplex power outlets recessed into each side, and the Dimension 4 handles these outlets with what IAC calls their Power Distribution System. Simply put, it allows any of the outlets to tap into one of three discrete 20-amp circuits, so Lab-Rite Analytical can cluster their electronics in any way without worrying about overloading any one circuit. The electrical conduit is hidden away for a very clean look. Lab-Rite Analytical has also used the conduits to route air lines as well."

LabRite Dimension 4 Lab InstallationLab-Rite Analytical is another in the growing trend in laboratory design that is seeing modular furniture replacing built-in casework. As Mr. Ingraham puts it, "I've operated labs with casework. It's a pain to manage and shows wear quickly. And once you put it in, it's permanent!" When asked about his level of satisfaction with the modular furniture, Ingraham replied, "IAC's Dimension 4 Workstations cost the same as the furniture we didn't want. It offered the colors and aesthetics we were looking for to match what our architect was designing for us. It has the ESD capability we need. It's flexible. We've already changed worksurface heights since the install. As we got into the product more, the ability to add on components became a nice benefit. For example, we added lights to the several of the workstations because they ended up in a dark part of the building. For our requirements, selecting the Dimension 4 was a 'no brainer'."

Note: Identities of the primary case study subject company, its principals and products, along with other non-relevant details have been changed to protect the interests of the subject company. While happy to relate the experience of their lab setup, for regulatory and competitive reasons, we've been asked to protect the company's anonymity. We’ve substituted the fictitious name "Lab-Rite Analytical" to replace the subject's actual company name; names of "Lab-Rite Analytical" personnel have also been changed. All other companies and persons named in the story have been left unchanged. All quotations were actually made by those involved in the story.

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