If you are considering a new laboratory rebuild or refurbishment, it is important to consider your supply partners. A great partner can make for a great outcome in your new facility. Usually, you will need to choose between a Joiner or a Lab Fit-out Specialist and choosing between them can often be a difficult choice for most people. A lab is a specialised workspace and it is important that the design considers products and services for a functional and compliant laboratory. Usually, architects won’t be familiar with designing laboratories which can lead to them specifying non-experienced and general Cabinet Makers that will most likely overlook a lot of aspects in your new facility. In this article we point out some key reasons on why you should use a Laboratory Specialist over a general Cabinet Maker/Joiner for your new facility.
A Lab Fit-out Specialist company has experience in labs, this is what they do! They know the market and understand the demands of the space. They can assist with benchtop, cabinetry, and hardware choices to ensure your laboratory space is not only compliant, but functional and long lasting in the lab environment. Lab Specialists understand that even colour is important! If you are regularly using stains or silver nitrate in your laboratory, colour and properties play a large part in the longevity and appearance of your space. A specialist can draw on past experiences to ensure you don’t encroach on the same layout, property, and compliance issues that others have experience in the past due to inexperience and bad choices.
A Lab Fit-out Specialist will be familiar with the Australian Standards and can assist with determining layout requirements for different laboratory types, Fume Cabinet positions and types (Built-in versus Recirculating Fume Cabinets), Tap and Turret positions, DG storage requirements, and positions of basic safety and signage requirements to name a few. Not only are there layout considerations, but you also need to consider some compliance factors. Below is a list of some of the questions that need to be considered, a Cabinet Maker doesn’t specialise in labs so it is unlikely they would even consider any of the following compliance questions:
- What size acid neutralising pit do I require?
- Do I require a reverse solenoid for my emergency shut off?
- Where should I position my safety shower?
- How far can I place GPO above the benchtop?
- What is the difference between a laboratory and a testing facility?
- Do my dangerous goods need to be vented?
- Do I vent my DG cabinets naturally or mechanically?
There is a high chance that a general cabinet maker won’t be able to provide you with these answers but with a specialist, this is second nature!
There is a big difference between a general Joiner and a Laboratory Fit-out Specialist. Lab benching needs to be resistant to chemicals, heat, and lab wear and tear and a Lab Fit-out Specialist will make recommendations based on the application of the worktop. Chemtemp Extreme Epoxy will handle extreme heat and is ideal in an industrial application. On the other hand, Trespa is great for its non-pores properties in a high end PC2 sterile facility. There are many other options of lab benchtops that are suitable for their own specific applications and it is a great idea to acquire samples and do you own testing to ensure you are making the best decision. General benchtops are not suitable for commercial laboratory use, they will not stand up to the long-term rigors of the education and research laboratories.
Surprising enough, there is often very little difference in the costing between general joinery and a specialist laboratory. A good lab specialist will have access to specific lab products which will work in your favour as they purchase their product in large volumes bringing the cost down significantly. If you look at Return on Investment (ROI) in the long term, the cost of laboratory specific benchtop will pay for itself time and time again compared to a general domestic/commercial product. Ensure you consider ROI in your costing process, a Joiner may appear to be a saving at the time, but the long-term complications of quality, resistance, and compliance may come back to haunt you sooner than you think.
- Have you aligned yourself with an experienced team?
- Has your lab been filtered through the Australian Standards?
- Has your architect designed labs before?
- Does your supplier of choice have good credibility?
- Is the product suitable for the application?
- Have you tested the product?
- Are you considering ROI in your costings?