5 Ways to Make a High Throughput Laboratory More Efficient

5 Ways to Make a High Throughput Laboratory More Efficient

Posted on the 17th of Oct 2018 by Westlab

In a competitive world, the most active and agile laboratory in the market wins! In this article, we seek to look at ways to make your laboratory more lean and agile. A competitive edge can be achieved in many ways including automation, professional training, lean process, and continuous improvement. Finding your laboratory’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) could come back to your ability to be sleek and agile within your process and could lead on to more Customer Value Adding (CVA) through speed and accuracy of outcomes.

1. Value Stream Mapping

What does your process look like? It is important to understand your process from entry to exit as this will assist with the elimination of cross-motion and some inefficiencies. Document a Value Stream Map (VSM). VSM is a lean management tool that helps visualise the steps needed from product creation to delivering it to the end-customer. As with other business process mapping methods, it helps with introspection (understanding your laboratory better), as well as analysis and process improvement. Once you understand the lineal space requirements and process, have a new look at your current space to see how it can be best utilised.

2. Automation

Consider investing in automation. Automation will increase speed and accuracy if managed correctly. Look at automation in terms of a long-term Return on Investment (ROI) as it not only has the ability to increase your throughput immediately but can result in better utilisation of staff time. Consider going to industry-related exhibitions which often showcase the latest automation allowing you to see and assess options.

3. Culture

Create a culture of continues improvement. If you are the laboratory leader, culture starts with you. Running and maintaining regular 5S meetings is a great way to get the wheels in motion for a great culture. One thing that has been proven to be successful in maintaining a great culture is a regular huddle or walkthrough. Do this as a team and encourage staff to look for non-conformances, hazards, and anything out of place. Assign small errands on the walkthrough and follow up the next day. It is important to stick this out regardless of feedback…good culture forces out bad habits.

4. Kaizen

Start a Kaizen board. Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning “change for the better”. A good Kaizen encourages all staff to look for small and large everyday inefficiencies and present ideas to the team after they have done their own due diligence. It’s a great idea to set up a template for staff to fill in when they come with an idea, so they can consider the before and after scenario, saving type, cost of set up, and return on investment period. Make sure every Kaizen is challenged and progressed or eliminated based on team input. Kaizen not only encourages continues improvement but allows every staff member to have a voice.  Acknowledge and recognise great ideas, this will promote momentum with continues improvement.

5. Shine

The fifth “S” in 5S is “Shine”. Make your laboratory shines like a star! There is nothing more motivating than walking into a shining laboratory every morning. 5S shine is not just the job of a cleaning crew, it is everyone’s responsibility. Every work area should have a person, or group, assigned to clean that area. The best approach is to have those who work in an area also be the ones who are responsible for cleaning that area at the end of each day. Create a Shine roster and assign daily responsibilities to all staff. Having a clean workspace will assist with focus resulting in the reduction of human error. Not only will a shining lab have an impact on your output, but it will be very impressive to you clientele and prospects.

2018-10-17 22:08:00
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