Ackley Tips: Top 5 Must-haves for the Digital Lab



Today’s lab industry is ever-changing and in order to be successful, we must be efficient and stay on top of the latest technologies, trends, and materials. Here are my top five must-haves for labs to thrive:

1. Visual Indicators

Ease of accessing information is management’s best friend. Utilize colors, positions on shelves or carts, lights and signs to readily identify critical information. At a glance, you will be able to make decisions instantly that used to take us several minutes of conversations between management and production staff causing work stoppages. Visual Indicators can greatly simplify workflow and most other facets of lab management.

2. Breaking Roadblocks

Identify items that impede workflow. These could be anything from rework to overloaded work centers. Communication is key to solving these issues. You may need to dive deep to get to the root cause of the blockage. Metered workflows make identification of trouble spots much more evident.

3. Shadow Boards

Organization has a dramatic impact on tasks that have multiple daily cycles. Commonly used instruments and supplies should be reduced wherever possible and should have designated positions on the bench top or working area to facilitate quick access and rapid changeover during the fabrication process. The busier the work center, the higher the yield in reduced labor cost from this simple implementation. No more searching for the correct rotary tool or screwdriver in a small crown box. This will help reduce inventory and waste.

4. Scheduling

It is critical to revisit schedules frequently with both your production and departmental managers and key technicians performing the associated tasks. By having the involved parties included in the reviews you can address any potential problems, get buy in, and establish accountability. As materials and processes change so do requirements for working times. Be aware of constraints within the schedule such as personnel availability relative to required processing times for materials.

5. Triage

This is one of the most critical steps to ensure proper workflow. Cases are separated into three categories. Shortened time frame, standard time frame and additional time provided. By setting things up in that order for input you are setting up your team for success. It is essential that the flow is adjusted and calibrated at the departmental and bench level to ensure efficiency.

Thanks for reading.

John Ackley

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