The workflow of your laboratory depends on several factors. It is true that a spacious building equipped with state of art facilities contributes to the popularity of your laboratory but such factors alone do not contribute to high laboratory throughputs. High throughputs are achievable through adequate attention to the contributing factors suggested in the article
- Analytical facilities
- Work planning
- Layout of the laboratory
The contribution of skilled manpower cannot be overlooked. Introduction of sophisticated analytical techniques with advanced automation features are of little help if the operators lack adequate training in their handling and operation. Training and skill up gradation benefits both the organization and the laboratory worker.
Introduction of sophisticated technology pays rich dividends over time. Automation has potential to contribute immensely to increased laboratory throughputs. However, it is once again emphasized that it is the knowledge level and skill of the operator that will help achieve full utilization of the advanced laboratory facilities.
A sound knowledge base and availability of advanced automated systems needs to be supplemented with advance planning of routine activities to achieve high workflow goals. It may seem rather insignificant but half an hour spent on activity planning can save several hours of lost time. Imagine how much of your valuable time gets wasted when you have to run around looking for consumables, reagents and glassware which are either not available or misplaced and cannot be traced in time of need. An analysis can get held up also if an essential spare recommended by the supplier is not available at time of breakdown on a reference standard required for a particular analysis has run out of its validity.
Introduction of advanced automated laboratory information management systems also makes a significant contribution to increased laboratory throughputs.
Streamlining of procedures for receipt of test samples by trained staff followed by their planned movement to different sections helps timely delivery of results. It goes without saying that the sample should be protected from contamination during the course of its movement within the laboratory.
A good amount of time and thought should be applied at the inception stage of your laboratory operations. Seeking technical advice from experts helps in designing the laboratory layout for most efficient operations in line with the scope of analysis. Provision should be kept for future expansion in terms of analysis requirements, manpower and space requirements.
It is a good idea to plan your laboratory into different sections such as wet chemistry, instrumental analysis, microbiology, trace metal analysis, molecular biology, etc as per your planned scope. All sections should be provided with
- Adequate ventilation and air conditioning as recommended by suppliers of different facilities
- Systematic and planned storage of reagents, chemicals, consumables and spare parts
- Easy access to standard test procedures, standard operating procedures and material safety data sheets for reference purpose
- Adequate illumination in all laboratory areas
- Clutter free entry and exit points
- Easy access to utilities such as pure water, compressed air, gases, etc
In conclusion motivation from seniors and regular up gradation of skills through planned training programs can play a significant role in increasing your laboratory throughput within the available framework.