3D Ergonomics – how to use a limited space to its fullest potential
On board of Columbus, every angle is used – but it is used in three dimensions, for storage, instruments and consumables. Because of the zero-gravity conditions, it makes sense to arrange the instruments, work areas and storage compartments of the laboratory three-dimensionally around the astronaut. The radii recommended on Earth for optimal physiological and anatomical working areas are adhered to as far as possible in order to support smooth, fault- and fatigue-free work – but on board the space station this also applies upwards and downwards.
Terrestrial laboratories usually waste a lot of space here – especially in optimal physiological and anatomical working areas, which would be well suited for keeping instruments and materials. It can make a lot of sense to think in spheres here, too: The use of centrifuges that can be pushed under a bench (not used for bench work while sitting) frees up more work space on the bench. Especially when setting up a new laboratory, this provides an opportunity to make the arrangement as ergonomic as possible. Where are the benches located? How much bench space does each member of staff have available? Where are the storage cabinets positioned? How deep are the storage cabinets and what is kept where? Do the laboratory technicians sit at the bench or do they stand? Where are the refrigerator, centrifuge etc. located? This also includes continuous straightening-up so that everything is always in the right place, familiar to everyone.
Perfect planning in advance saves time and trouble
In order to make full use of the time available for experiments and transport capacity, all payloads, workflows and protocols are optimized down to the smallest detail before launch. To save time and eliminate potential errors, all consumables and materials required for each experiment are packed into individual storage bags and clearly labelled.
Optimal preparation of experiments in the form of test kits saves time and increases efficiency.