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There are so many industries that use labs for all sorts of purposes. Other than medical labs where pharmaceutical companies develop a new medicine, labs are also used in automotive, water treatment and semiconductor industries. These industrial labs, although used for various purposes, usually have one purpose in mind – profit. This means that by running it efficiently and more economically, you stand to get much better results. Here are several things you need to know about proper lab management in order to help you get more economical results.
1. Automation is the first step
The first thing you should do in order to increase lab efficiency is to invest in automation. This will allow your staff to focus on the more creative parts of the job instead of having to worry too much about the repetitive, menial tasks that even the machine can do. however, as machines are getting more and more sophisticated (thanks to the concept of AI), the list of tasks suitable for automation expands further and further. This means that making an improvement in this field becomes an even greater priority.
Another major benefit of automation is the fact that it reduces the likelihood of a human error. You see, a well-functioning machine will adhere to the list of actions that you’ve composed to the letter. Human employees, on the other hand, might get distracted or even try cutting corners in order to go home a bit earlier. Just remember, however, that in order for this to work, you need to have a human supervisor in charge of the automation process. This is due to the fact that a mistake, that goes unnoticed, might repeat itself over and over again.
2. Safety is key
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that safety is key. You see a mistake in the lab will not just cause a unit to malfunction (like it would in the standard production). In a scenario where your work depends on the cleanliness of the environment, it may contaminate the area. In a scenario where you’re working with potentially hazardous materials, you would put lives at stake. Keep in mind though, that in both of the above-described scenarios (and a couple of others) the entire lab will be shut down for a period of time. This downtime will cost you money on its own, not to mention the cost of decontamination and potential employee compensations. In other words, investing in safety beforehand is a more frugal option.
3. You can’t skim on the equipment
Both of the previously discussed suggestions involve high-quality equipment. You see, skimming on the equipment is what leads to avoidable accidents and in order to automate, you need tools that you trust enough to leave them working on their own (well, for most of the time). This is why you need to do your research on reputable scientific equipment suppliers and find the one that suits you to collaborate with. Keep in mind that you’re not just getting any standard item. What you’re investing in is an invaluable asset that may determine the efficiency of your lab. So, choose wisely.
4. Time-management training
The biggest problem with organizing your staff in a laboratory environment lies in the fact that it’s quite hard to determine what the efficient type of behavior is. According to Price’s law of productivity, only a small number of your employees are actually productive, while the rest are idling for the most part. Now, in production, you could measure their efficiency according to the number of units they make in an hour. In the sales department, you could measure it according to the revenue that they bring in. In laboratory, things are not as simple but such a thing is not impossible to pull off either. It all comes down to observing your employees and suggesting a better time-management.
5. Your HR has a lot of work to do
Previously, we’ve talked about the ratio of hard workers and idlers in your enterprise and the truth is that it all depends on who you hire and how you train them. Other than this, with the help of proper evaluation and the right staff management, you can resolve the bulk of these issues. As you can see, all of these tasks are handled by your HR, which means that your first step should either be making a great in-house HR department or outsourcing your HR functions altogether.
While this may seem a bit too simplistic, the truth is that there are a lot of labs that are still heavily dependent on the use of paper. So, what you need to do is plan an update. First of all, this will help you reduce the waste of paper which is more economical, to begin with. Second, it helps reduce your need for storage space and makes your organization somewhat greener. Lastly, it makes sharing information (which is crucial in the lab environment) much easier and more pragmatic. Just take it slowly and be as thorough and systematic as possible.
7. Collaborate with others
The truth is that you just can’t do it all on your own. Sure, your direct competitors may be reluctant to reveal some of their most effective practices but there are plenty of people out there who would be more than happy to help you out. Other than this, when hiring people who’ve worked in other labs before, there’s a chance that they have a piece of insight that you may find to be particularly useful.
As you can see, regardless of how well-organized or efficient your lab is, at the moment, there’s always some room for improvement. The truth is that you always have something that you can do better. In a field that’s as performance- and safety-driven as running a lab. Fortunately, with the above-listed seven tips, you now have both the tools and the knowledge to get the results you need.