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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basics of Lean and Six Sigma for the Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Laboratory Work Cell

Beside batch size reduction, cross-training staff is also a key to achieving a Lean laboratory operation. Not only is cross-training essential for Lean operation but it also makes sense, based on the current shortage of laboratory professionals. In a traditional laboratory, every section is separated and has its own staff and space. Daily workload is usually not evenly distributed, since it is based on the workload of a particular section. In a Lean laboratory work cell, automated analyzers (hematology, chemistry, immunoassay and urinalysis) are placed together in a U shape. These automated/high volume analyzers are placed as close to the central processing area as possible to decrease excess motion, while manual/low volume testing is located in an area that is further away from specimen processing. The images on the right illustrate the traditional and work cell layouts. A work cell provides several advantages:
  • Less staff is required to work in a work cell design
  • Ease of coverage during break time
  • Less wasted motion
  • Enhanced team work