umentation and review of tests supporting
both flow and leveling of workloads.
• Use of a limited number of adjacent, but
separated, hot desks for project work and
• Adjacent collaboration areas and meeting
3. Minimize transport and motion wastes:
• Location of labs close to manufacturing—
simplifying sample management and chain
• Co-location or amalgamation of labs that
will share samples, equipment or storage.
• Central location of shared lab services (e.g.
• Central location of equipment or storage that
will be shared within a lab.
4. Minimize space and equipment requirements:
• Space and equipment requirements should
be calculated based on leveled demand rates
rather than peaks.
• There should be a move away from personal
ownership of equipment, bench space or
desks. Analysts should operate as true teams,
sharing resources and workloads.
5. Maximize future configurability:
• Via flexible bench configurations and
semi-configurable services (air/extraction).
6. Support effective lab inventory management:
• Via limited and defined storage at the point
• Central lab storage for shared materials or
high-volume unique materials.
7. Support effective performance management:
• By incorporating areas for visual management displays, huddle meetings, etc.
8. Foster lean behaviors and communication:
• Via centrally located, glass-walled offices for
lab managers and supervisors.
• Extensive use of glazing to visually link lab
9. Support excellence in workplace organization
and cleanliness (5S):
• Via open or glass-fronted cabinetry.
• Limited and defined storage throughout the
• No drawers.
How can you determine the space and equipment requirements for a new lab?
Two parallel approaches—top-down and
bottom-up—are often used to help ensure that
the quantity and quality of space is exactly what
is needed to perform the testing activities.
In the top-down approach, pertinent metrics
such as headcount with various historical and
benchmark data can be used to help determine space requirements, functional areas, the
number of rooms, their size and the amount of
equipment that can be placed into each.
The bottom-up approach examines how many
batches and how many lots are being manufactured to determine how many tests are required,
the equipment needed for each test and the frequency of equipment use. This information dictates how much space is needed for each test.
The combination of these two approaches
can help create a holistic picture of both the
quantity and quality of space requirements.
DESIGNING SPACES TO FOSTER INTERACTION
Also important to the success of a lab design
based on lean principles are the visual connections of different functional and common areas.
Views into the labs and office areas, views of
conference rooms, dining areas and circulation
arteries support the visibility of everyone in the
organization and the importance of a cohesive
purpose through a sense of community.
Through the use of common spaces, an
environment can be created where the different
departments are brought together to interact,
forming bonds and interdepartmental connections. These interactions help to increase
operational efficiency within the facility and to
develop trust and collaboration.
By knowing their co-workers, the staff is better able to communicate through networking,
collaboration and problem-solving sessions.
Understanding each other as people, rather
than by job title, increases teamwork and fosters
communication for constructive problem solving during operation.
continued on page 12
Designing labs for lean
continued from page 3
in the lab, and this volatility results in the consumption of excess resources and valuable lab
space. Lab processes also become stressed, leading to constant re-prioritization and stop-start
progress on individual projects or samples. This
reduces effectiveness and adds waste. The rate
of failures and re-work also often increases. In
short mura (volatility) creates muda (waste).
Poor utilization of analyst resources—usually in
the form of volatility and imbalance in individual
analyst workloads—is usually the second largest
lean opportunity. Leveling, flow and standard work
allow the development of productive roles for the
more routine work elements in a lab. Doing the
routine well and in a productive manner allows
more time and resources to be spent on less routine
but more valuable development activities.
Lean in the lab shifts the focus of improvement initiatives from individual tests or activities to the flow of samples and data through the
total lab process. It uses leveling techniques to
address workload volatility and generates flow
by creating defined test sequences that move
samples quickly through all required tests and
reviews. Test activities are combined into balanced, productive and repeatable analyst roles
that use people’s time well (standard work).
A lab design and layout that actively supports
these principles will increase the effectiveness
and sustainability of lean processes.
LAB AREAS SHOULD BE DESIGNED TO:
1. Support leveling, flow and standard work. These
are key lean lab principles. Building design to
proactively support them normally involves:
• Fewer internal walls and separation of labs.
This promotes flexible operations and the
sharing of workloads and resources to level
short interval workloads.
• Incorporating space for sample management
and visual queues. Visualization of workloads is a core concept of lean.
• Use of sample-centric and/or test-centric
cells and cellular bench arrangements.
Cellular workspace design facilitates the
combination of tests to create balanced
productive analyst workloads and standard
work, and reduces travel and motion wastes.
• Allow space for visual management systems
of lab performance. For example, daily and
weekly meeting boards to allow visualization
of work to be performed in the short term
and of lab performance over time.
2. Support effective use of people’s time:
• Integration of write up, review and approval
areas. This enables efficient and timely doc-
Figure 2: Bench configuration options for testing work cells. (Source: BSM)