Food microbiology labs can be some of the most difficult to design. Because of the nature of the tests you're running, your microbiology lab needs to meet a variety of safety concerns that are a bit more stringent than other labs, which can require some innovative design options. When you're working on commissioning or designing a new food microbiology lab, there are a ton of aspects to consider that vary from the standard testing lab. To make sure you're on the right track designing your food microbiology lab, here are a few tips you'll want to make sure you think about before you decide on a design:
Consider Standards and Regulations
First and foremost, you'll need to think about the unique standards and regulations relevant to your lab. Though most food microbiology labs must adhere to fairly high standards, a microbiology lab in a hospital and one that's independently owned will have to comply with different sets of regulations and standards. It's important to determine these requirements before you even get started because they'll likely have a big impact on your final design.
Another aspect of design that sets food microbiology labs apart from other labs is the additional technology required. Because you're studying and working with particles that cannot be seen by the human eye, there's a whole host of machines, computers, and appliances you'll need that other labs won't. Your design will have to account not only for the extra space this technology needs, but the heat those machines will add to your space and the energy they'll require to run.
Additional Safety Concerns
Again, due to the nature of microbiology tests and studies, there are a variety of additional safety concerns. Since you're likely dealing with contaminants and potentially dangerous chemicals and microbes, your lab will have to feature additional safety components. Whether this is an eyewash, an airlock, air shower, or some other decontamination device, you'll have to factor in the additional space required for these safety features.
Inability for Open Concept
One of the biggest design challenges accompanying a food microbiology lab is the inability for an open concept plan. Most microbiology labs must be set up in multiple separate rooms housing different parts of lab operations. For example, the biological testing room should be kept apart from the instrument room, which is separate from the washing and disinfection room. This is necessary for the safety of employees and for the integrity of your lab's tests, but it doesn't help in the effort of streamlining workflows.
Because a food microbiology lab needs so many separate rooms, it's important to keep your employee's processes in mind as you design. They're going to have to work across multiple rooms no matter what, but do your best to ensure that the rooms that each employee needs to access are as close as possible. The shorter the distance, the quicker they can complete their processes and move to the next task.
Though you won't be able to implement an open concept design, you can still create a lab that's flexible and that ensures your employees aren't running into each other. Microbiology labs can overcome some of the obstacles set by the variety of separated rooms in the lab by choosing modular and flexible furniture and lab components. This gives you the opportunity to rearrange in the future if you realize there's a better way to optimize your lab for ultimate productivity.
Thoughts for the Future
Like any laboratory design, it's important to create your food microbiology lab with the future in mind. By utilizing flexible and modular lab components, you leave your lab open for easy renovation and redesign in the event that you expand in the future. As you add employees and processes, you'll need to reconfigure your lab or add on to your existing space, and flexible components offer you that possibility in a way that's affordable.
Food microbiology labs aren't easy to design. They require a great deal of additional planning and forethought. If you're not sure where to start with your food microbiology lab design, get in touch with Multi-Lab. Our on-staff engineers have been in the business for years and can help design a lab that meets all the requirements of your microbiology application, in a timeframe that best suits you. Give our office a call at 616-846-6990 or contact us online today!