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Modern Labs Go Modular

A nineteenth century scientist would feel at home in many of today's labs. The layouts, structure and furnishings are still fairly similar to those of a hundred years ago. In all fairness, up until recently there has been neither a need nor an alternative for a change in the status quo. That is beginning to change now as lab managers discover the versatility of modular workstations.

DPC Lab Click image to enlarge

What's driving the adoption of modular workstations in replacement of conventional built-in casework cabinetry? Growth. Expansion. Revision. The pace of change has accelerated, and the competitive need to adapt is greater than ever. Diagnostics Products Corporation (DPC), founded in 1971, has been innovative in nimbly establishing modular labs for development of medical diagnostics. That adaptation was supported by a decision early on to keep labs flexible. To that end DPC chose to use IAC Industries' Dimension 4 Workstations in multiple facilities to comprise the dominant work area, with minimum dependence on casework cabinetry.

Dimension 4 (D4) is a modular system of table tops, storage cabinets and drawers, shelving, lighting, and uprights that join together in an endless array of work area configurations. Channels inside the uprights provide space for cleanly hidden power and/or gas system lines. D4 workstations are ergonomically designed to fit the people who work at them. Equipped with adjustable components, and with production accessories situated within easy reach and sight line, they help boost laboratory productivity by eliminating wasted motion, cluttered work areas, and operator fatigue.

DPC Lab Click image to enlarge

DPC concluded that to achieve a return on their investment they actually had to own "the lab". According to Robert Castro, Plant Manager at DPC's Los Angeles facility, "Once you build casework in a building, it belongs to the building, not the company. It's not practical to move any of it to a new facility as the company grows, just as DPC has done numerous times over the past 20 years." With D4 workstations, DPC has been able to adapt to changing diagnostic processes and to expand into larger facilities over the years, never losing on their equipment investment. "I am really pleased that we are able to move and continue using the equipment we purchased 10 years ago. It substantially reduces the cost of setting up our new labs."

Modular is Better

As DPC has grown they have simply added to existing D4 workstations. The D4's modularity makes this simple. As new diagnostic processes have been developed DPC has been able to reconfigure their D4 workstations to accommodate new workflows and to allow for integration of the company's automated equipment. Even when moving, D4 workstations can be disassembled and re-configured to fit a new lab. This is exactly what happened in DPC's new lab, located inside their new Corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

D4 Assembly at DPC Click Image for Caption
D4 Assembly at DPC Click Image for Caption

After growing out of their nearby facility in Southern California, DPC acquired a 178,000 square foot building and began shaping it into a modern medical diagnostics laboratory. One of Robert Castro's first calls was to IAC for consultation on new space planning and the development of an overall strategy for the organized transition to the new building. Dave Verrill, from IAC Industries, toured the new facility and inventoried the D4 workstations already owned by DPC to make an initial plan and list of requirements. Within a matter of weeks a final detailed plan was formulated. This new plan also included a wish list of custom products to be developed for the new lab; although 95% of the required solutions were found in the standard D4 product line.

When it came to delivery of the more than 450 new Dimension 4 systems, IAC coordinated closely with DPC, as they were moving segments of their lab operation to the new facility over a period of about 7 weeks. The task of scheduling and performing the assembly of the new workstations, along with approximately 200 more workstations brought from the old labs, was entrusted to IAC as part of their overall service. "We have done smaller D4 assembly installations in the past, but with hundreds of new workstations being delivered we needed assistance. It was hugely beneficial to turn this process over to IAC for completion."

There are more than a half dozen distinct lab areas at DPC's new facility and IAC coordinated the new product delivery and assembly on a schedule that enabled an orderly transition from old location labs to the new labs. DPC made the move with a minimum of productive downtime. "With an operation as large as ours, with 350 lab technicians involved, it was critical that we were able to depend on IAC meeting our scheduled move dates. I was pleased with IAC's commitment to our needs," says Castro.

DPC Diagnostics Lab Click Image for Caption

At home in the most modern laboratories, Dimension 4 workstations have a clean and stylish appearance. Aesthetics aside, pure functionality is the key D4 attribute and the clear reason for their selection by Diagnostic Products Corp. Each workstation can be populated with the specific shelving, lighting and storage components required for the specific task, with each component positioned for the ergonomic requirements of individual operators. Durability is unsurpassed. Dimension 4 uprights are reinforced aluminum extrusions mounted to heavy-wall, square-tube aluminum cantilever footings, providing a rock-solid superstructure that supports working components. All structural components and cabinetry is finished with chip- and scratch-resistant powder coat paint. DPC, years ago, tried similar-looking workstations, thinking they were all the same. It didn't take long for DPC to conclude that these look-alike workstations did not provide the same stability or versatility as Dimension 4 workstations. "For solidity, durability and overall usability, nothing matches IAC's D4 workstation. We've concluded that from more than a decade of use," states Castro.

With seven powder coat paint colors, six laminate trim colors, specialty table tops such as Trespa® and Corian®, more than a dozen fabric colors, and 15 different table top laminates, Dimension 4 workstations can be coordinated into any environment, and will satisfy lab functionality along with any aesthetic tastes.

Custom D4 Suspended Drawers Click Image for Caption

Diagnostic Products Corporation is the global leader dedicated exclusively to immunodiagnostics. DPC's tests supply information vital to the detection and management of adrenal/pituitary dysfunction, allergy, anemia, bone metabolism disturbances, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, infectious diseases, inflammation, reproductive and thyroid disorders, and therapeutic drug levels, allowing DPC to serve major clinical and veterinary diagnostic areas. DPC also designs and manufactures automated laboratory instrumentation, which provides fast, accurate results while reducing labor and reagent costs. DPC sells its products to hospitals, clinics and laboratories in more than 100 countries. For more information, contact DPC at 310-645-8200, info@dpconline.com or visit www.dpcweb.com.

Based in Brea, California, IAC Industries is a prominent manufacturer of technical furniture (production workbenches, workstations, and related products) for companies performing diagnostics, assembly, testing, repairs, inspection and related applications across a wide spectrum of industries. IAC products are 100% made in the USA by Union Labor, and are sold worldwide. IAC Industries currently offers the widest range of workstations, workbenches, seating, and workstation-related accessories available from a single manufacturer. For more information, contact IAC Industries at 714-990-8997, benchsales@iacindustries.com, or visit www.iacindustries.com.

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