Teaching Employees Proper Cleanroom Gowning Techniques

Teaching Employees Proper Cleanroom Gowning Techniques

If you have a cleanroom, you probably already know that humans are the biggest source of cleanroom contamination. The fact is that you do need people in the cleanroom to be able to manufacture your product. This means that your employees have to be gowned properly in order to reduce the amount of particles that are released into the air inside your cleanroom. The difficult part is deciding how they should gown, and ensuring that all employees are properly gowned, at all times.

Depending on what type of cleanroom you have, your employee requirements for gowning will be different. In some cases, they may just have to put on a lab coat and goggles, where in others they’ll need a full bunny suit. Generally, these requirement correspond with the level of cleanliness your cleanroom has to meet. The higher the standards, the more gear your employees will have to wear.

Once you know what your employees are required to wear, you can easily design a protocol for them to follow. It’s a good idea to keep a mirror in the gowning station, so employees can make sure garments are properly tucked in. You may also post a picture of someone properly gowned, as a “how to” reference for employees.

Here is a general list of things to consider when teaching employees proper gowning technique, to help you establish a simple, step by step process that your employees can follow every time they enter the cleanroom:

Remember that proper cleanroom attire starts outside the gowning room: Employees should be discouraged from wearing makeup, jewelry, hairsprays or perfumes, as these can all give off unnecessary particles and fumes, endangering the balanced state of your cleanroom.

Consider footwear: It may be a good idea for employees to have shoes dedicated only to the cleanroom, in the interest of minimizing contamination. If employees change shoes before even entering the gowning room, you’re minimizing the amount of dirt and dust particles tracked into the cleanroom.

No food: While this may seem like a no-brainer, make sure you’re reminding employees never to eat in the cleanroom. It may seem like a hassle for them to leave for lunch, and then redo the entire gowning process, but it’s a greater concern to have any kind of food or gum in the cleanroom. It’s a good idea to put up a sign outside the door to remind anyone entering the cleanroom of this rule.

Top to bottom gowning: When you’re developing your gowning protocol, it’s important to know that gowning should be done from top to bottom. That means that employees should start with hoods, then move to tops, then pants, then shoe covers. This method of dressing prevents any particles from falling down to already-gowned pants or booties.

Don’t touch: Employees should be aware that most cleanliness violations happen as a result of a garment being touched by dirty hands, or the floor. You should stress the importance of regularly washing and drying hands and gloves, as well as ensuring that garments do not touch the floor. A good way to minimize these issues is to make sure that surfaces are ultra-clean, and that no-touch washers and dryers are readily available.

Minimize motion: Believe it or not, people emit thousands of particles a minute even when they’re dressed in cleanroom gowning gear, and sitting still. As soon as people begin to move, that number of particles increases exponentially. This is why both your gowning room and your cleanroom itself, should be set up to minimize movement as much as possible.

With these considerations in mind, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a thorough, step-by-step gowning procedure for your employees. Once you design the protocol, it’s important to make sure you train, and retrain it. Your personnel should attend a formal training program, but don’t stop there. Post reminder posters outside the gowning room, and make sure that your employees understand how important the gowning process is to maintaining the standards of your cleanroom. The best way to keep your cleanroom clean is to have a unified program for gowning procedure that everyone follows.

If you’re in need of gowning supplies, or if you’re looking for more information on cleanrooms, give the experts at Angstrom a call! We’ve been in the business for more than 20 years, and design, repair, and supply every kind of cleanroom. At 888-768-6900 we’re here to help answer any cleanroom question.

Cutting Cleanroom Costs

Cutting Cleanroom Costs

Cleanrooms can be expensive, there’s no doubt about it. A cleanroom is a highly technical system that has to be maintained to exact standards, and that maintenance can certainly be expensive. But since you can’t afford to not have a clean room, what are some steps you can take to make the costs a bit more manageable? To be the most efficient, it’s best to start thinking about your costs while you’re still in the planning phase of your cleanroom. Don’t worry if your cleanroom has already been built, because there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your costs in an existing system as well.

Here are our top suggestions to help you cut your cleanroom system costs, starting with construction, and ending with supply purchasing:

Have a plan: The best thing you can do when constructing a cleanroom that stays under budget is to have a strict, defined plan. Make sure you know exactly what’s happening, when it’s happening, and how it’s happening. If you’re building a brick and mortar cleanroom, know how long construction will take, and how long until you’ll be able to start your production. If you’re going with a modular cleanroom, installation shouldn’t be much of an issue, but you should know approximately how long it will take you to get it inspected before you can move in and get started. If you have a construction plan and stick to it, you’re less likely to have any surprises budget-wise.

Size: The size of your cleanroom will have the biggest effect on your budget. The bigger the cleanroom, the more air, filters, and equipment in general it will take to run to standard. That’s why it’s important to know exactly how much space you’ll need. Of course, your cleanroom needs to be comfortably large enough to house your operations, but it’s a good idea to check, and double check exactly how much space you’ll need, so that you don’t end up buying equipment for dead space.

HVAC system: A great way to save money on your cleanroom is to make use of your existing HVAC system. While you’ll have to talk to your contractor about its capabilities, if you can use your existing air for your cleanroom, you’ll save a lot on installation and overall energy costs. Do remember that if you plan on expanding your cleanroom operation over time, you’ll have to make sure your existing HVAC system will be able to support the increased load. Otherwise you’ll have to consider a costly remodel when you do decide to expand.

Pass-through chamber: Not only does this one save money, it’ll save your employees time as well. A pass-through chamber means fewer employees will have to gown to transfer materials and supplies in and out of the cleanroom, which first saves you money on expensive gowning supplies. In addition to that, the more employees in your cleanroom, the more contaminants, and the more times a door opens, the harder your cleanroom will have to work to restore proper air pressure. A pass-through chamber is considerably smaller than a door, and by design prevents your cleanroom from losing much pressure. Not only will a pass-through save your employees time, but your cleanroom will stay cleaner, and will be able to maintain pressure more easily, saving you money on energy costs.

Economical lighting options: Cleanrooms have to be well-lit. People are doing very technical work, sometimes on the tiniest parts. Good lighting does cost money, but you can certainly cut those costs by investing in energy efficient lighting that still suits your cleanroom. One option is installing LED panels. LED lights give off less heat, which reduces your energy cost, and they last five to eight times longer than regular fluorescent bulbs. If you’re worried about lighting panels interfering with laminar air flow, you might also consider LED strips, which are attached directly to the ceiling grid, in between filters so no air flow is interrupted. Since these lights give off less heat and last longer, you’ll save a lot on energy costs in no time.

Prefilters: If you were thinking that pre-filters were an unnecessary cost that would just add to your budget, think again! Prefilters are actually relatively inexpensive compared to HEPA and ULPA filters, and they really cut down on particulate. Since they are placed before HEPA and ULPA filters, they filter out a lot of primary contamination, and can prolong the life of those more expensive units. Though they do have to be replaced more often, you’ll save money in the long run by not having to replace the expensive HEPA/ULPA filters as much.

Training: The absolute best way to cut down on costs is to make sure that everyone that enters your cleanroom knows exactly what’s expected of them, what protocol is, and how the cleanroom needs to be treated. When everyone understands the process, knows how to gown properly, and how to keep the cleanroom clean, it will be much easier and less costly to keep your clean room running properly.

Buy in bulk: A final cost-cutting tip is to buy in bulk. While you may have already thought of it, distributers are coming out with new options all the time, so it’s a good idea to stay up on all the new products available. Any consumable good that your facility uses regularly can generally be bought in bulk, which is a lot cheaper for you, and much more convenient for your employees, as they’re less likely to run out of items that are important to your clean room’s cleanliness.

With more than 20 years experience in designing, installing, repairing and supplying cleanrooms, Angstrom is your first choice for any clean room question. We can design a cleanroom to your exact specifications, and we’re more than willing to make repairs as well. Give us a call at 888-768-6900 or contact us online today!

3 Essential Cleanroom Supplies You Should Always Have on Hand

3 Essential Cleanroom Supplies You Should Always Have on Hand

Whether you’re new to cleanrooms, or you’ve been working with them your entire career, there’s no doubt that they can be a finicky part of your business operation. You have to maintain exact standards, and when your cleanroom is down, so is your company. So, what can you do to make sure your cleanroom is functioning to its required standards at all times?

Though it might sound obvious, keeping it well stocked with necessary cleanroom supplies is the best way to keep your cleanroom performing to standard. Below is a list of the three most important cleanroom supplies you should always have on hand, and why they’re so important:

Replacement Filters

Filters are what keep the air in a cleanroom clean. Without clean filters, your cleanroom has little to no hope of performing to standard. So, it’s good to always have backup filters on hand, both HEPA, ULPA, and pre-filters. But how many should you have?

Prefilters: Depending on the standards your cleanroom has to meet, you probably change your pre-filters once every few months. Every time you change them, you should make sure you have enough replacements to get you through at least one more change. If not, you risk putting your operation behind.

HEPA/ULPA: Same goes for HEPA or ULPA filters. You should have at least one replacement for each operating HEPA/ULPA filter at all times. Though you change these very infrequently, sometimes even years apart, HEPA /ULPA filters much more important than pre-filters. They are responsible for filtering the greatest amount of tiny air particulate, so it makes sense to always have replacements on hand, in case of an emergency.

Gowning Materials

If you regularly order cleanroom supplies, you know that you go through boxes of gowning materials in no time. Hoods, bunny suits, booties, and cleanroom gloves of all varieties, are crucial to your everyday operations. It’s important that your company develop some sort of system so that you never run out of these essential cleanroom supplies.

For example: You may have employees alert the person in charge of ordering cleanroom supplies every time you have less than two weeks worth of a certain gowning material. Whether it’s gloves or cleanroom suits, a good rule of thumb is that when you open the last box of cleanroom supplies, you order another shipment.

Cleanroom Cleaners

While this might sound like common sense, it’s surprising how quickly you can run out of cleaning supplies. Maybe you’ve experienced that feeling of dread when an employee reports and says that there aren’t any more bottles of cleaner. There’s nothing worse than frantically trying to find the right cleaner, and then making sure it gets shipped overnight so your cleanroom can continue to function at standard for the next business day.

Similar to gowning materials, it’s a good idea to have a system in place so that this sort of situation doesn’t happen. Make sure you always have at least one full bottle of any disinfectant or cleaner.

If you are in need of cleanroom supplies, or if you are looking into designing your own cleanroom, give the experts at Angstrom a call at 888-768-6900. We can design a cleanroom that functions to your exact specifications and standards, and we also carry replacement cleanroom supplies!

What’s the Difference Between Positive and Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms?

What’s the Difference Between Positive and Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms?

If you’re considering a cleanroom, you’re probably trying to gather as much information as possible. What type of cleanroom is right for you? What industry standards do you have to meet? Where will your cleanroom go? You get the picture. Well, one piece of information that might be useful to you is understanding the difference between positive and negative air pressure cleanrooms. As you probably already know, airflow plays a leading role in keeping your cleanroom to standard, but what you may not have known is that air pressure can have a big effect on that as well. So here’s a broken down explanation of each positive and negative air pressure.

Positive Air Pressure Cleanrooms

This means that the air pressure inside your cleanroom is greater than the pressure outside of it. This is achieved by pumping clean, filtered air into the cleanroom, generally through the ceiling.

Positive pressure is used in cleanrooms where the priority is keeping any possible germs or contaminants out of the cleanroom. In the event that there was a leak, or a door opened, clean air would be forced out of the cleanroom, rather than unfiltered air being allowed into the cleanroom. This works somewhat similarly to deflating a balloon; when you untie a balloon, or pop it, air rushes out because the air pressure in the balloon is higher than the pressure of the ambient air.

Positive pressure cleanrooms are used primarily for industries where the cleanroom functions to keep the product clean and safe from particulates, like in the microelectronic industry where even the tiniest particle can damage the integrity of the microchips being manufactured.

Negative Air Pressure Cleanrooms

In a negative air pressure cleanroom, the air pressure in the room is lower than the pressure outside of the room. Generally this is achieved by filtering air out of the room. In most situations, air enters through filters near the floor, and then is sucked out through filters in the room ceiling.

Negative air pressure is used in cleanrooms where the goal is to keep any possible contamination from escaping the cleanroom. Windows and doors have to be completely sealed, and by having a lower pressure, air outside the cleanroom is likely to flow into it, rather than out of it. Think of it like an empty cup that you set in a bucket of water. If you push the cup into the water rightside up, water flows into the cup, because it has lower pressure than the water. The negative pressure cleanroom is like the empty cup here.

Negative air pressure cleanrooms are used in industries that manufacture pharmaceutical products, do biochemical testing, and also in hospitals to quarantine seriously contagious patients. Any air that flows out of the room has to first flow out of a filter, ensuring that no contaminants can escape.

If you have any more questions regarding negative and positive air pressure cleanrooms, take a look at our Dwyer Digital Differential Pressure Gauge or if you’re looking to purchase a cleanroom for your business, give the experts at Angstrom a call today! We custom design all of our cleanrooms, so that they meet your exact specifications and standards. Call us at 888-768-6900, or contact us online.

 

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6 Tips When Considering a Cleanroom

6 Tips When Considering a Cleanroom

    1. Can you afford NOT to have a cleanroom?You may have been going back and forth trying to decide if it’s worth it to spend your budget on a cleanroom, but the question you should really be asking is can you afford not to have one? As products become smaller and smaller, particle contamination can have a bigger effect on your manufacturing process, potentially causing costly product recalls, and even potentially life-threatening situations depending on your industry. Once you take into account the risks of not having a cleanroom, you’ll be better able to decide if it’s worth it or not.

 

    1. Traditional vs Modular CleanroomsNow that you know you really do need a cleanroom you’ll have to decide whether you’re going to need a traditional or modular cleanroom. A traditional cleanroom is built, much like any building is, out of brick or drywall, and coated with an epoxy finish. Though these function well after they are built, a lot of time and effort goes into the construction process. A modular cleanroom is generally prefabricated off site, and then delivered to your business with all of its parts, and conveniently put together with no dust or mess, and a very minimal construction time.

 

    1. Cleanrooms have various cleanliness standardsDepending on your industry, you’ll have to meet a certain standard of cleanliness determined by ISO international standards. These standards are classified by how many particles of a certain size are allowed to be in your cleanroom to maintain your process safely. The kicker here is, the more stringent your standards, the more you’re probably going to have to spend. Once you know your standards, you’ll have a better idea of a practical budget.

 

    1. Time to productionAs the adage goes, “time is money.” So you’ll want to consider how long it will take to get your cleanroom set up before you can start production. If you decided to go with a traditional cleanroom, it’s going to take a while before you’ll be up and running, whereas with a modular cleanroom it may only be a few weeks before you can get started. It’s also good to remember that modular cleanrooms can always be extended and added to if you want to expand your operation down the road.

 

    1. Time to validationIf you went with a modular cleanroom, you will want to factor in a bit of time for validation. Before you can start production, your cleanroom will have to be validated to ensure that it is performing to the correct ISO standard. It’s also important to note that if you want to keep your cleanroom running well, you should schedule regular validations. That way you know your cleanrooms is performing as it should, and you’ll be protected from any external audits from clients.

 

  1. Good cleanroom protocolFinally, once your cleanroom is installed and set up, you’ll want to make sure you maintain that through proper protocol. Make sure your employees are properly trained on gowning methods and best practices, and make sure your cleanroom is cleaned thoroughly according to standards. The better you maintain your cleanroom, the better it will function. If you have proper protocol and procedures in place before your cleanroom production begins, you’re sure to be able to start your project as soon as it’s installed and validated.

If you have more questions regarding your cleanroom project, don’t hesitate to call the experts at Angstrom at 1-888-768-6900. With more than 20 years experience installing and maintaining every type of cleanroom, we’re sure to have an answer or solution!