Novice lab designers often make the mistake of ordering ready-made workstations to furnish their facilities. Generic lab tables and workstations are typically advertised as the more cost-effective option, and as a suitable ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for any and all laboratory configurations.
Predictably, like most other one-size-fits-all products, ready-made lab furniture like workstations and tables will almost never fit properly, and most labs that choose to go with this option end up swapping them out for custom-built furniture later down the line.
At OnePointe Solutions, we specialize in custom-made lab furniture, but we did not just fall into this industry by accident. Our team has years of experience working with laboratory facilities in virtually every industry at locations around the country, helping to make us some of the leading experts in the world of custom laboratory furniture design.
We offer our clients customizable options because it is simply the best way to create effective furniture solutions that will work in the long-term.
A lab should be designed with the intention of facilitating education, research, production, and discovery. A well-thought-out lab should include not only an intentional and efficient layout but also furniture that helps to promote a productive and safe environment.
Custom workstations can be designed with the broadest or most specific needs in mind, but should always be made to suit the safety and practical needs of a lab and its researchers.
Why You Should Avoid Ready-Made Lab Tables
If you had not already guessed, we are pretty skeptical of ready-made lab furniture, and for good reason. Generic lab tables and workstations are often inflexible, uncomfortable, and lacking in some of those essential features that create the ultimate productive working environment.
First and foremost, it is nearly impossible to create a workplace layout that flows and feels productive with generic furniture. Ready-made workstations are typically clunky, difficult to move, and impossible to reconfigure to better suit the needs of the space.
What you see is what you get when it comes to ready-made furniture, so be prepared to make adjustments to your workflow should you choose to go with the generic option.
Beyond simple inconvenience, choosing a generic furniture option can actually compromise the comfort and safety of your team. Poorly made generic furniture can cause back problems, strained joints and muscles, fatigue, and unsafe working conditions, especially since most generic furniture is made with only one body-type in mind.
Consequently, staff can sustain injuries, become more clumsy in their research, or become less productive, all due to physical strain and discomfort.
Finally, opting for ready-made workstations can seriously limit your growth potential, since generic furniture options do not have the built-in flexibility and modular features of custom-designed workstations. Being able to grow, shift, and accommodate both new people and new paths of research are all vital for research facilities to succeed, which means designers should be considering expansion from the very beginning.
If ready-made lab furniture sounded too good to be true, this should confirm it. There simply is no way to create a one-size-fits-all lab furniture solution, and all attempts inevitably fall short.
The best and most productive lab environments are those that have been fully customized, which is why OnePointe Solutions focuses solely on creating unique solutions for our clients’ specific and exacting needs.
Key Elements of Lab Tables & Workstations
Once you have dodged the mediocre pre-built workstation options and are perusing your custom options, you might be wondering what exactly you should be looking for. You know you need options that can be tailored to suit your needs, but what general elements do all quality lab tables and workstations possess?
Here are some of the features you should look for when choosing your lab workstations:
Adaptability & Modular Design
As previously mentioned, the work being done in laboratories rarely remains consistent for long periods of time and is constantly changing/evolving either to include new findings and research or to transition into entirely different avenues. Because of this, good lab design should be flexible, and this quality should also extend to the facility’s furniture.
Workstations and other pieces of furniture should be able to quickly move/adjust in order to accommodate new research, equipment, or personnel since changes can be made at a moments notice in many research environments. Features like locking casters and modular shelving are excellent additions to any workstation design since these are precisely the types of features that help to add flexibility to a workspace.
All workstations should be equipped with adequate storage, and while some facilities may have less extensive storage needs than others, it is still important to search for options that can allow for your workstation storage to expand if necessary. Having enough storage space to store tools, equipment, and some personal items without creating cluttered/crowded worksurfaces is of the utmost importance for any facility, and can help to improve productivity, focus, accuracy, and workplace safety.
One of the reasons consumers choose ready-made furniture options is due to price since most generic lab furniture is purposefully sold at reduced prices to attract unwitting customers. Unfortunately, bargain prices do not always mean you are getting a bargain since most ready-made lab furniture forgoes quality for the sake of price.
Low-quality, easily damaged materials are a hallmark trait of ready-made furniture and something to avoid at all costs if you want your investment to last.
Though poorly designed furniture may not immediately be obvious to the untrained eye, the feeling you will get after sitting at a poorly designed workstation all day will most certainly reveal any and all faults. Lab workstations should be designed with the human body in mind since researchers often spend long hours pouring over samples, notes, and documents.
An ergonomically designed workstation is one that is made to optimize comfort and posture, promoting back health, reducing migraines, and improving concentration.
Ergonomic designs can include adjustable features to make workstations suitable for people of varying heights, footrests to alleviate back pressure, indentations to support posture, and much more. Including gestures like ergonomic furniture on your lab can not only help to improve workplace productivity but can even help to boost and support moral.
Important Planning Considerations
One of the greatest benefits of opting for a custom lab workstation is the ability to fully plan out your design before it is created. Custom furniture options allow you to ensure that every aspect of your lab is considered before your furniture is built, so you can ensure all loose ends are tied up by the time your workstations are finished and ready to be installed.
When you begin the process of designing your own custom lab workstations, be sure to consider the following;
It may seem obvious, but a shocking number of novice designers find themselves with too much furniture and not enough room since they did not fully take stock of the available space within the facility. Where over-ordering results in a shortage of space, underordering can similarly impact the success of your facility by creating a shortage of storage and usable worksurfaces.
Either mistake is an unfortunate miscalculation of space that can result in wasted funds and wasted time, so being sure to account for all of this before making an order can save you lots of time and frustration.
Tasks to Be Performed
Before you can make the correct selection of furniture for your lab, you will need to assess what kinds of tasks are going to be performed on the surface of your lab benches and tables. Labs use a variety of caustic chemicals, solvents, harsh cleaners, and so on throughout the course of their work, so knowing which of these may react negatively with specific surface materials is important for making the right choice.
For example: knowing that your lab will be performing lots of high-heat experimentation means needing to choose a heat resistant option. Selection of appropriate materials can help to prevent accidental damage from occurring, and ensure that your furniture selections will last longer.
Similarly, having an in-depth knowledge of the nature of your facility’s work will help you to know what features you will need to include in your design.
Items Needing to Be Stored
Workstations should be fully equipped with all the necessary tools and materials for personnel to go about their daily responsibilities. Each lab table should include enough storage to safely put away and organize all necessary tools and personal items, since keeping the surface of each workstation clear of clutter is important for maintaining a safe and productive work environment.
Before you make any kind of furniture selection, make note of all items that will potentially need to be stored within each workstation. Knowing the full scope of your storage needs will help you to make the appropriate selection for your lab, or help you to choose additional storage features/add ons to create custom workstations just for your unique needs.
Another extremely important consideration to take into account before you make any furniture selections is your facility’s need for plumbing. In some cases, designers may choose to include faucets and sinks in their workstation design, hooking these units up to the facility’s main plumbing to take advantage of water and drainage. Having fresh water and a safe drainage source built into your workstations is an added convenience that can take the efficiency of your lab to the next level.
Like a plumbing hookup, some facilities may require their workstations to be hooked up to the facility’s air/ventilation system in order to take advantage of filtration and airflow. Items like fume snorkels can easily be installed above, next to, or within the framework of custom-built workstations in order to safely eliminate toxic fumes from the area.
Researchers and lab personnel use fume snorkels and similar filtration equipment to draw fumes away from the research area and filter the air to produce clean air that can be recirculated. Determining whether pieces of equipment/add-on accessories like these are needed in your design will save you lots of time later down the line, and can help you to appropriately place furniture in order for it to be successfully connected to your facility’s existing HVAC.
Outlets & Electrical Cord Management
Most workstations have some kind of electrical connectivity requirements, whether it be to power a computer, some piece of scientific equipment, or simply to keep personal devices charged. During the planning phase of your laboratory design, it is important to let your design team know that you want additional outlets/plugs included in your workstations to increase the number of available outlets in your facility.
Similarly, many designers opt to include cord-management tools and accessories to help keep their desks organized and clutter-free, and you can easily have these items added to your custom workbench design.
Aesthetics are often overlooked in professional research environments, not thought to be a vital consideration during the design process due to the false belief that aesthetics do not matter in the workplace. In truth, creating a workspace that has aesthetic value can help to keep personnel on track and focused, can make visitors feel more welcome, and can even help to improve the overall mood and energy of the facility.
Though aesthetics may not be the first item you bring up to your design team, you should not hesitate to mention your preferences if they exist. The simple addition of a high-gloss finish or the choice to go with stainless steel over some other metal can make all the difference for creating an aesthetically pleasing environment, so do not forgo this step in the planning if the beauty of your workspace is important to you.
Why Choose OnePointe Solutions
When it comes to custom lab furniture, you would be hard-pressed to find a company more knowledgeable and experienced than OnePointe Solutions. Our custom-built furniture is made to the exact specifications and standards of our clients from the highest quality materials and with the best and most trusted techniques.
We make the experience of selecting custom furnishings for your lab super easy and work closely with our clients throughout every step of the process.
On-Site Design Consultations
When you call the OnePointe Solutions team to help with your lab design needs, our first step is to come to your facility to assess the space and learn more about your lab’s day-to-day operations. Our design team will travel to your facility anywhere in the U.S. to meet with you and to begin the process of creating the perfect furniture solution. We will tour your facility and discuss the details of your work, what you are envisioning, and the general scope of what you are expecting.
Next, our design team has had a chance to get to know your needs, we create custom 3D renderings of our designs completely free along with an estimated quote of the total cost of creating your custom lab workstations. Once we agree on a design that is within your budget, we move on to the next phase: manufacturing.
Manufactured in the U.S.
Lots of design firms ship their designs off to be made by international manufacturers, much to the deficit of the quality of their finished products. While utilizing foreign manufacturing can save a few pennies here and there, it does not allow for any oversight during the building process, which means there is little to no guarantee of actual quality.
At OnePointe Solutions, we keep every aspect of the process at home, and not only design in the U.S. but build here as well. Our manufacturing is done fully in-house, so we have the ability to oversee each and every detail that goes into our furniture.
Our workbenches and other pieces of lab furniture are made using only the best and most durable materials, and in accordance with all SEFA and industry standards.
There are no cutting corners with OnePointe Solutions, so our customers never have to worry about being handed over to a third-party company that has not been fully briefed on the details of the project. Once we have completed the manufacturing process, our team brings your completed workstations directly to you and sticks around to manage the installation process to boot.
We make sure the furniture we create fits the way it is supposed to, and never leave a project until we are sure every last detail is accounted for. By the time we make it to the installation phase, the only people that know the design of your lab better than you do is the OnePointe Solutions team, which is why we are dedicated to seeing it through to the very end.
Limitless Options to Customize
We know the importance of having all the things you need incorporated into your laboratory furniture design, which is why we make sure to always offer as many options for customizations as possible. Our clients enjoy the option to choose from tons of configurations, add-on accessories, and surface materials, allowing them to create the perfect solution for their facility’s specific needs. Here are just some of the options our customers have to customize their laboratory workstations.
The ideal surface material for your lab will depend almost entirely on the nature of the work being done within the facility since the surface material will need to be durable enough to withstand exposure to common chemicals and substances. Wet labs, for example, will have different material requirements than dry labs, and medical/pharmaceutical labs will have different requirements than agricultural labs. We offer the following worksurface material options:
We do not just produce simple lab tables, we create custom workstations that help researchers perform vital scientific research to fuel the worlds of science, industry, medicine, and technology. We take our jobs seriously and know that because there is no one-size-fits-all option, we need to be prepared to make adjustments at a moment’s notice. We offer tons of optional add-on features and accessories that can be included in the design of your workbench to create a solution that is entirely unique and optimized for your working environment:
- Computer mounts
- Keyboard trays
- Mounted casework
- Suspended casework
- Modular shelving
- Steal and particle board pegboards
- Ergonomic support
- Installed outlets/plugs
No matter the quality of your workbenches/lab tables, no workstation is complete without the addition of a comfortable chair or stool. Seating and workstations go hand in hand in the world of laboratory design with one being chosen in order to complement the other.
In many labs, personnel spend their entire days sitting at their workstations pouring over their research, a position that can seriously impact their health and comfort if they are not properly equipped. Ergonomic workstation design and the addition of comfort accessories like footrests can help to support skeletal health and good posture, but these features alone will not do much to prevent accidental injury.
A qualified lab design company like OnePointe Solutions will have a wide range of seating options for you to choose from that should complement their other furniture offerings. Our seating options are built for the ultimate comfort and productivity, intended to pair perfectly with our custom workstation and lab table designs to create a focused and safe working environment.
Our chairs and stools are built with ergonomic features to enhance and support good posture and come in a wide range of materials suitable for all applications from educational labs to cleanroom environments.