Choosing the right industrial workbench for your facility requires planning, especially if you’re investing in several workstations.
Designing the best adjustable workbench that promotes productivity involves considering all aspects of the workstation, particularly storage options like drawers. While drawer space and configuration are important components of an adjustable workbench, there are other needs you should review as well to get the best design possible for your employees.
Here are some tips to help you navigate some of the customizations you should consider and how these options impact your end product.
Drawers Are More Than A Number
When designing an adjustable workbench with drawers, many only consider the number of drawers they think they’ll need. However, the configuration and features of the drawers play an important role in whether your employees’ needs are met as well.
There are several different drawer options when it comes to how you configure them. Here is one example. In the same amount of space, you could fit:
Four 3-inch drawers and two 6-inch drawers
Two 3-inch drawers and three 6-inch drawers
Eight 3-inch drawers
Four 3-inch drawers and one 12-inch drawer
Four 3-inch drawers and one 12-inch locker (with left or right opening)
Which drawer configuration you choose will likely depend on what types of tools or other items will be stored inside.
Other features to consider include:
- Design elements like full extension and heavy duty roller bearing slides, which allow you to effortlessly open and close drawers
- Security abilities like locks and whether those locks can be keyed the same or differently
- Handle options like plastic cup handles, aluminum cup pull handles, full finger steel pull handles that run the length of the drawer, lab-grade aluminum handle pulls and chrome wire pulls
It’s also important for many facility managers to ensure that the drawers on their adjustable workbenches are ergonomically-friendly. Drawers with an ergonomic design prevent repeated strains on the body by being easily reachable and accessible.
Workbenches Can Be Adjustable In Different Ways
If you’ve landed on purchasing an adjustable workbench to meet the different height needs of your employees, you’ve made an ergonomically-friendly choice. As we mentioned above, when a workspace is designed with ergonomic considerations in mind, it helps prevent repeated strains on the body and helps optimize where your employees work.
The ergonomics concept centers around maintaining a relaxed position that minimizes stress on a person’s joints and muscles. The height of a workstation is a component of whether that workspace is ergonomically-friendly or not.
An industrial adjustable workbench allows employees to choose whether they want to sit down or stand up, and then adjusts to a person’s overall height.
You typically have two choices when it comes to adjustable workbenches:
- A hydraulic bench that allows workers to use a manual hand crank handle to raise and lower the work surface
- A bench that comes with an electric control that lifts and lowers the bench with the push of a button
While both types can be adjusted based on the employee’s comfort level, an electric controlled bench has a few additional benefits. If there are heavy work tools on the bench, a bench with an electrical component will require less physical effort to raise the bench than hand cranking the bench. Depending on the model, you may be able to preset positions for convenience as well. This can come in handy if multiple workers use the same bench over the course of several shifts.
Your Work Surface Could Make Or Break Your Design
One of the most important features of an adjustable workbench with drawers is the countertop. Choosing the right work surface during the design process is critical since it’s often one of the most expensive components of your workbench. If the material you choose will not hold up against extreme conditions in your application, you may be forced to replace it with a material that will.
There are table top worksurfaces to consider, including some of the most popular ones listed below:
- Phenolic Resin: Typically used in labs, and are designed as one solid, lightweight countertop that is durable and long-lasting.
- Epoxy Resin: Durable and non-porous, and holds up very well under harsh and extreme conditions such as high heat.
- High Pressure Laminate: Used for basic, non-extreme applications. While they are functional and durable, they’re also very affordable.
- ESD laminate: This material provides a safe work surface for environments where static electricity is a concern. As an added benefit, ESD laminate surfaces are also resistant to staining and chemicals that include acetone, gasoline and 10% ammonium solutions.
- Stainless Steel: Resistant to bacteria, rust and corrosion. They also are stain and heat resistant. This makes stainless steel an ideal choice for laboratories where high heat and open flames are used.
- Butcher Block: Traditionally used in woodworking and basic assembly applications. While this type of countertop is sturdy, it’s also porous and can dent easily. This type of material likely isn’t an appropriate choice for a laboratory workstation unless used in non-work areas or in labs where abrasive chemicals are not handled.
Our article, Top 5 Materials To Consider For Your Lab Countertops, looks at some of the factors that need to be considered when choosing a good quality work surface as well as some of your options based on these considerations.
Maximize Storage And Organization with Additional Tools
In addition to drawers, there are several other features that can impact the efficiency of work being done on your workstation. Examples of storage and organizational tools you can add to your adjustable workbench include:
- Utility drawers that come in a variety of sizes and configurations
- Shelving that can be installed below or above the work surface
- Upper storage cabinets with flipper doors
- Articulating monitor arms that can accommodate flat screens and laptops
- Keyboard trays that can be added to any work surface or articulating arm
- CPU holders that can be fixed or adjustable
- Pegboards that can be added between the uprights to attach tools
- Bin rails or panels to store parts and accessories
Casters can help maximize the organization of your facility and are often added to adjustable workbenches to make them mobile. Make sure the casters are industrial strength and can withhold the weight of your adjustable height work table.
Conform Workbench To Safety Regulations
Conforming your workbench so that it meets any industry safety regulations or requirements should not be an overlooked process when designing your adjustable workbench.
Additional characteristics you’ll want to consider include weight load capacity and construction. Weight capacity is how much weight a workbench can hold, while the construction of the bench reflects its durability and strength.
- Weight load capacity:
- Heavy duty: Around 5,000-pound capacity, though width can impact this
- Extra heavy duty: 10,000- to 20,000-pound weight load capacity
- Standard: 750- to 1,000-pound weight load capacity
- Heavy duty: Typically feature 14 gauge steel, with 2-inch square steel legs for long-lasting strength
- Extra heavy duty: Typically feature 12 gauge steel, welded with 3-inch square bench legs
- Standard: Typically feature 16 gauge steel, welded with 2-inch square legs
Ensure All Lighting And Electrical Components Are Included
Overhead lighting fixtures are among the most common accessories needed for an industrial workbench. They come in a variety of widths to meet the needs of a space. Some light fixtures use LED light bulbs, which use less electricity and offer a higher level of brightness and intensity.
Other lighting options include under-shelf bulbs, which brighten up specific areas of a workbench, or economy light fixtures that are often less expensive.
Beyond lighting, other electrical needs that may need to be accommodated include:
- Where electrical outlets/strips should be placed
- How much power/voltage is required for equipment being used
- If two- or three-pronged outlets are needed
- Any special lighting needed, such as inspection lights and overhead lights
- Whether USB outlets are needed
- The weight and dimensions of instruments and equipment used at the workstation and whether they need to be on the work surface or next to the workstation
- If an emergency power source is required
Don’t Forget A Workbench Chair
While an adjustable workbench helps promote the health and safety of a worker, it’s important to not forget the role a workbench chair plays in proper ergonomics.
When choosing a chair for your adjustable workbench, keep in mind that you’ll have to consider different features than you would with an office chair. For example, consider:
- Material: Fabric, vinyl and polyurethane are most commonly seen in laboratory and industrial settings. Fabric provides more comfort, but doesn’t hold up as well to extreme conditions as vinyl and polyurethane, particularly when chemicals are present. If static electricity poses a danger, consider an ESD lab chair that prevents friction.
- Comfort: Poor posture can lead to health issues such as back pain and tension headaches. Invest in chairs that keep employees comfortable and productive to minimize these risks. Look for chairs with sturdy frames, adjustable heights and comfortable backrests and seats.
- Price: The cost of a chair may seem like an obvious consideration, but keep in mind there is more to its cost than its price tag. In other words, the price of a chair includes the total cost of ownership, such as assembly costs, repair costs, how often it needs to be replaced, user efficiency and additional operating costs.
Work With A Manufacturer That Customizes
Perform a quick web search and you’ll likely come across many adjustable height workstations that are sitting in manufacturing warehouses waiting to be shipped to you. If you’re looking for a basic workbench without any customizations, this may be a good option. However, if you want the opposite of a one-size-fits-all design, you’ll need to turn to a supplier or manufacturer that can meet your facility’s individual needs.
A high-quality manufacturer will assist you with figuring out your exact needs and bring your ideas to life … all while ensuring all federal and industry safety requirements are met.
The best industrial furniture companies will also offer options to customers in a timeframe that gets your lab up and running as soon as possible, as well as consider your needs as your company grows.
Almost all manufacturers will provide technical data sheets that expand upon the information available about the workstation you are considering. The best manufacturers will share their knowledge about how certain workbenches have performed in environments that are similar to yours so that you can determine which workbench is right for your application and your employees.