How Often Should I Maintenance My Cleanroom?

How Often Should I Maintenance My Cleanroom?

Proper cleanroom maintenance is not only important to keep a cleanroom running efficiently and limit dangerous contamination of processes, but it can also save your company money. Improper cleaning or maintenance of your cleanroom could be costly, even dangerous, and could lead to liability issues — especially in sensitive industries like pharmaceutical cleanrooms, manufacturing of fine electronics, or the development of medical devices. Regular and thorough maintenance keeps a cleanroom in good operational shape and establishes a safe space for employees to work. 

 

The ideal maintenance schedule for your cleanroom will depend on its classification and cleanliness standards. A general recommendation for cleanrooms with an ISO Classification from 1-5 is to schedule semi-annual inspections of their equipment and systems, while cleanrooms with ISO Classification from 6-9 can manage with annual checks. Keep in mind, some components of the cleanroom require more consistent maintenance, such as its filters. 

 

Cleanroom Maintenance Areas

 

Whether your cleanroom follows a strict maintenance schedule on its own or works with an outside contractor, the most important cleanroom maintenance areas include filtration, the HVAC system, and your industry-specific equipment.

 

Air Filtration System 

 

Most cleanrooms use three sets of filters to collect particles from the air. The outermost filters, or pre-filters, require the most maintenance as they are the first line of defense, protecting the innermost — and most expensive — HEPA filters. 

 

Pre-filters can be assessed by checking differential pressure or air outflow velocity. On average, they will need to be replaced 6 times per year. Bag/box filters function as intermediary filters and are generally replaced annually. HEPA filters should be replaced about every three years, but must be checked periodically to ensure that they are functioning properly. All filters should be assessed regularly to determine their effectiveness. 

 

Be aware that your cleanroom’s location can affect the schedule of filter replacement. For example, if your building is located in an area that experiences more air pollution or possible contaminants, such as next to a freeway, railroad track, or factory, it might require more frequent filter checks. You can use air samplers or settle plates to test the air quality within your cleanroom, and make changes to your cleanroom’s filter replacement schedule as necessary.

 

Cleanroom Equipment

 

Your industry-specific cleanroom equipment will likely require regular maintenance to make sure it serves your needs effectively. This may include equipment like fume hoods and boilers, as well as important cleanroom areas like the gowning room and waste-disposal areas.

 

Cleanroom equipment maintenance will require the cleanroom to be shut down, so it is important to plan ahead to minimize disruption. It’s best to bundle cleanroom maintenance tasks together, such as replacing pre-filters while upgrading or repairing the equipment that your cleanroom contains, as well as the furniture that supports it.

 

Cleanroom HVAC System

 

Your cleanroom’s HVAC system should receive regular maintenance to make sure it’s running efficiently. Inefficient HVAC systems use more energy and run a higher risk of failure. When assessing your HVAC system, you should test that it meets all necessary temperature, pressure, and humidity requirements.

 

It’s recommended that you perform cleanroom maintenance on your HVAC system at least twice per year, in the spring and fall. When the climate changes seasonally, different factors of your system will be prioritized, so biannual checks will ensure a smooth and consistent transition throughout the year. HVAC maintenance could include tasks like: cleaning coils and drain lines, checking for gas or fluid leaks, checking that all electrical connections are sound, making sure the fan motor is in peak condition, lubricating any moving parts, checking heating elements, and making sure the thermostat and controls are reading accurately and functioning well.

 

Preventative Cleanroom Maintenance

 

To facilitate or reduce maintenance tasks, you should employ an efficient cleanroom design and follow regular cleaning procedures. 

 

Cleanroom Design

 

Your cleanroom layout should be simple and intuitive, with clear paths for employees to follow to limit particle-shedding. Your cleanroom should have limited access points, ideally just one. Control the selection and placement of furniture within your cleanroom to allow air to move freely and not cause a buildup of contaminants within the space. Having an intentional design minimizes cleanroom maintenance needs and reduces the risk of contamination. 

 

Cleaning Your Cleanroom

 

Regular cleaning is a crucial part of cleanroom maintenance. All cleanrooms should have a regular cleaning schedule to meet class standards and follow proper strategies for sanitization including using the correct cleaning materials for your classification and educating staff about proper cleaning procedure. 

 

Your space should have adequate storage for all cleaning and cleanroom maintenance materials, such as cleaning solutions and supplies, ladders, and appropriate tools. All storage should be cleaned and maintained regularly and be in an accessible place where the possibility of contamination is minimized. 

 

Benefits of Third-Party Cleanroom Maintenance

 

Using an outside contractor for maintenance, equipment service, and cleaning can help establish consistent cleaning and maintenance procedures as well as help to avoid potential problems from doing the work yourself. An outside contractor is:

  • Dedicated to delivering high standards of cleanliness and proper equipment maintenance. Let your employees focus on their work within your cleanroom. Having workers also be responsible for cleaning and maintenance could lead to complacency and a gradual decline in standards.
  • Trained for proper cleanroom maintenance with your industry-specific equipment. Third-party contractors understand the importance of proper cleanroom maintenance and, unlike general janitorial staff, can complete the work with a high degree of efficiency and detail to your class standards. 
  • Quality-assured and accountable. An outside contractor is committed to reaching your cleanroom standards and facilitating a safe work environment for your employees. There is clear documentation that demonstrates completed cleanroom maintenance tasks, which limits your personal liability.

 

An outside contractor will make sure your cleanroom is always meeting its rigorous class standards while being operational and safe for staff. They understand the functions of your unique cleanroom and can help establish a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule to keep things running smoothly.

 

If you’re looking to get your cleanroom on a regular maintenance and service schedule, we can help. Angstrom Technology is happy to put your cleanroom on our service schedule, so you never have to worry about whether you’re meeting your classification or not. Reach out to us online today.

Designing an Energy Efficient Cleanroom

Designing an Energy Efficient Cleanroom

Designing an energy-efficient cleanroom is all about identifying the areas that have the most potential for waste and cutting energy consumption until the result is a streamlined, high-efficiency, ultra-clean cleanroom. 

 

Your first priority in designing your cleanroom is function. You want to make sure your cleanroom is accomplishing its main task of meeting class standards and protecting your work with as few contaminants as possible. Your second priority should be to cut costs and extra energy usage wherever possible, not only to allow your cleanroom to function at its highest level but also to save valuable energy, not only reducing your operational costs but lessening your cleanroom’s environmental impact.

 

The biggest waste in cleanroom design comes from building your cleanroom to run overcapacity, even though it’s not strictly necessary to meet minimum requirements. This makes your cleanroom’s systems work harder than they need and cost more money to run. Let’s look at a few areas where you can cut back on your energy consumption when designing an energy-efficient cleanroom.

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Space

 

When designing an energy-efficient cleanroom, one of the major factors to consider is space. To run your cleanroom at maximum efficiency, your cleanroom should only be as large as necessary to accommodate equipment and personnel. You should condense your cleanroom wherever possible by removing modular cleanroom wall panels or reshaping its SoftWalls. This effectively reduces the amount of air in your cleanroom, helping you achieve better control over its quality. It also means you will use less energy to filter, change, heat, and cool the smallest amount of air possible.

 

Assembling the cleanroom on-site has the potential to create more gaps during the building process where air and energy could escape. Alternatively, modular, pre-engineered cleanrooms will save energy, time, and money, while minimizing expensive air leakageCleanroom design experts can help you plan out your cleanroom ahead of time and anticipate the areas air might escape, designing optimal airflow patterns using computational fluid dynamics software. 

 

Your energy-efficient cleanroom design should control leakage as much as possible, including around the most conspicuous areas such as pass-throughs, walls, ceilings, and duct connections. Your condensed cleanroom will also need to avoid overpressurization. Overpressurization is not only expensive to generate but increases air leakage, which is extra energy seeping away.

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Systems 

 

Your cleanroom’s energy usage is dominated by its HVAC system. The HVAC system is responsible for heating and cooling your cleanroom, regulating humidity, and controlling air changes and filtration. It’s also one of the biggest areas you can cut down on energy usage and costs. 

 

Many cleanrooms use their HVAC systems to excess, changing the air more frequently than absolutely necessary. By reducing air change rates to where your cleanroom can still meet its class standards, you can make your cleanroom more energy efficient. Particularly if your cleanroom already uses a particle counting system, the air might not need to be changed as frequently to achieve optimal cleanliness. Also, keeping your HEPA and ULPA filters in excellent condition will increase the efficiency of each air change, so fewer will be needed to keep the air clean.

 

Consider installing updated HVAC systems that use new, energy-efficient technology. These systems might recover “wasted heat” by reheating used air or water from your cleanroom’s air compressor or the chiller condenser. New technology can also consider what times your cleanroom needs to be at high-standard operational cleanliness versus when the space is unoccupied and can possibly conserve energy. If your cleanroom is not in use 24 hours a day, you can adjust the temperature, humidity, and air change rates to save energy when the room is dormant. 

 

Energy Efficient Cleanroom Fixtures

 

Finally, energy-saving fixtures can be an integral part of your energy-efficient cleanroom design. Use LED lighting and water-saving appliances wherever possible. Consider attaching detection sensors to overhead lighting to limit wasted energy.

 

When selecting industry-specific equipment for your cleanroom, choose models that can run at the lowest level possible. If you can, use equipment that can be turned off or have some components switched off when unused. Similar to your HVAC system, using newer equipment may present more energy savings than outdated equipment. 

 

To see if new equipment or systems are a valuable investment, don’t consider the price of the update so much as the amount they can save over time. The savings you can accumulate through the design of an energy-efficient cleanroom can offset the costs of the upgrades and help you achieve your cleanroom goals with minimal waste.

 

With careful planning and design, you can create an energy-efficient cleanroom that achieves its goals, complies with class standards, and saves energy costs as much as possible. An energy-efficient cleanroom will allow you to address your environmental impact while managing operational costs and enjoying the savings from decreased energy usage and expenditures. 

 

Looking to make your cleanroom as efficient as possible? Talk to the experts at Angstrom. We take pride in creating customized cleanroom solutions that fit your needs, no matter how big or small. If an energy efficient cleanroom is what you’re looking for, we’re here to make it happen.

Redesigning Your Modular Cleanroom? Here are 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Redesigning Your Modular Cleanroom? Here are 5 Things to Keep in Mind

Modular cleanrooms — particularly SoftWall cleanrooms — are easy to expand, downsize, or reconfigure. When redesigning a modular cleanroom, some things you should keep in mind are: whether you plan to downsize or upsize your space, how to best reconfigure your systems to maintain class standards, a few ways to repurpose extra materials, and the importance of working with experts who have experience in cleanroom redesign and can help you complete the job to your specifications.

 

Redesign Your Modular Cleanroom

The great thing about modular cleanroom panels or SoftWalls is that they can be rearranged with ease to suit the needs of your business as it grows or changes. By adding or subtracting modular cleanroom panels you can redesign your cleanroom to meet new needs or class standards or save on energy and costs. Be careful not to underestimate the space your equipment and personnel need to function effectively with your cleanroom redesign.

 

Expand Your Cleanroom

To expand your modular cleanroom, the process is easy! Simply add extra panels and arrange them in a layout that suits your equipment and production goals. Keep in mind that with extra space you may need additional furniture to support equipment, store materials, or serve as workspaces for employees. 

A cleanroom expansion will require the redesign of paths through the space to limit contamination and streamline work within your cleanroom. You may also need to update your HVAC system. If you have more air in your cleanroom to change, you’ll need a more powerful system that can handle the job and maintain strict air quality standards.

 

Downsize Your Cleanroom

Removing panels will reduce the space inside your cleanroom. SoftWall cleanrooms can be downsized easily because they aren’t fixed or rigid. They are also easy to expand again if you need more space in the future. 

When downsizing, make sure to leave sufficient room for all equipment and workspaces as well as space to access materials. Eliminate unnecessary furniture or fixtures and retain the essential pieces. If you have extra panels, furniture, or surfaces, you may be able to repurpose them outside of your cleanroom.

 

Reconfigure Your Cleanroom

If you don’t need to change the amount of space in your cleanroom, you may need to reconfigure your layout to accommodate different projects, equipment, or class standards. Modular cleanroom panels can be rearranged to create a different room shape and make new paths within the space. You may also need to reconfigure your HVAC system, making sure to not block airflow when rearranging furniture and other pieces.

 

Maintain Class Standards

With any kind of cleanroom redesign, you’ll need to make sure your new cleanroom matches the existing class standards for your application or meets the new standards for which you’re redesigning. Any new panels, flooring, and furniture should be made of materials that are non-particle shedding and support the use they will receive with moderate to heavy traffic. Remember that gowning areas and pass-throughs are also part of your cleanroom and should be updated as necessary.

 

Utilize Extra Materials

If your cleanroom redesign left you with extra materials like panels, furniture, or equipment, consider if you can repurpose them before disposing. Modular cleanroom panels can be made into gowning areas, storage for cleaning supplies, or extra equipment. Utilize extra panels outside of your downsized cleanroom as places to keep unused tools or as lockers to store employees’ personal items while they’re working in your cleanroom.

 

Support Your Systems

If you’re redesigning your cleanroom, chances are your HVAC system will need to be redesigned or updated as well. If you’ve expanded your workspace, a more powerful system may be necessary to change a larger amount of air consistently and thoroughly. Even if your cleanroom hasn’t grown or changed size at all, a cleanroom redesign is a great time to check in with your systems and make sure they can service every part of your rearranged layout. 

 

Work with Modular Cleanroom Professionals

When redesigning your modular cleanroom, you’ll want to seek the advice and assistance of professionals in the cleanroom industry, not just any contractor. A team with cleanroom design experience will be well-versed in your cleanroom’s class standards and be able to ensure that every part of your cleanroom redesign is up to code. They can help you understand where you can save space and energy and how to move things around in a smart and efficient way.

 

Redesigning your modular cleanroom? We’re here to help! Angstrom Technology experts can help you downsize or upgrade your cleanroom on your budget, and in a way that maximizes your space and process efficiency. Reach out to us online or give us a call at (888) 768-6900 to get started.

Cleanroom Terminology: Garments

Cleanroom Terminology: Garments

Every part of your cleanroom’s design should work for you, from its protective flooring and wall panels to the fume hoods and HEPA filters. Each element serves a purpose to change the air, reduce risk, or limit contamination. What about garments? What are they, and how do they serve you and your cleanroom’s work? Here is everything you need to know about cleanroom garments.

 

What Are Cleanroom Garments?

Cleanroom garments are pieces of clothing worn in a cleanroom to limit human contamination. They are essentially filters for people, blocking contaminates and shedding particles from entering the cleanroom environment as much as possible. Cleanroom garments are necessary in almost all class standards, though garment and material specifications may differ. 

 

What Are Cleanroom Garments Used for?

In your cleanroom, you can control almost every contaminating factor through isolation, careful cleaning procedures, and thorough sterilization — except humans. People are the most contaminating element of cleanroom environments, and the hardest to keep clean. From dead skin cells to hair, textile fibers and dust, and microbes from body oils, saliva, and other bacteria — even when practicing meticulous personal hygiene, humans are sloppily packaged messes. The average person sheds 10 million particles of skin alone in a single day. The more we move and talk, the more particles and microbes we shed, putting sensitive work at risk. While we have almost complete control over the rest of the environment, we’ll never be able to entirely eliminate human contamination of cleanrooms. 

Cleanroom garments are the best solution to this problem. They cover people up, limiting particle shedding as much as humanly possible. They significantly reduce our risk of ruining the cleanliness of our workspaces, and are absolutely essential to meet rigorous class standards.

Cleanroom garments have another important purpose. Not only do they block our contaminates from hurting our products, but they are protective for the wearer as well. In cases where the work could be caustic or hazardous, cleanroom garments can protect delicate skin, eyes, and respiratory systems from dangerous substances.

 

What’s Included? Common Cleanroom Garments

Cleanroom garments are essential for life-as-usual within almost all cleanrooms. They should be non-particle shedding, easy to put on, comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and be able to withstand the process of sterilization. Different cleanroom garments will be required depending on your class type. Your class will also specify the materials that can be worn. Some typical cleanroom garment items include: a coat and pants or coverall to cover the body; head gear like a mask, hood or both; goggles; shoe covers or boots; and, of course, gloves. 

 

Coat and Pants, or Coverall

The coat and pants or combination coverall must be made of an appropriate fabric type for your cleanroom class standard, either woven, spun-bonded, or laminated fabric. They will have as few seams as possible and fit a bit large but not baggy. All clothing must have adjustable closures at the openings, with no pockets.

 

Head Gear 

Cleanroom head gear will cover all hair completely to prevent any loose hairs from shedding into your cleanroom environment. Beard covers are available, too. If extreme control or protection is required, a hood with its own ventilation and filtering may be necessary.

 

Face Masks 

Cleanroom-specific face masks are either surgical-style with elastic or fabric straps, or a veil that is attached to the rest of the suit.

 

Goggles

If your cleanroom requires the use of goggles, they are used to prevent shedding of particles from the eyes or eyebrows, and also act as protection against sparks or splashing substances. 

 

Shoe Covers

Shoe covers are usually used when entering a gowning room. Before entering the cleanroom, more sterile footwear is donned to further limit possible contamination. Some low class standards might allow just shoe covers to be worn over appropriate footwear within the cleanroom.

 

Boots

Boots are typically used as a cleanroom garment to cover pant legs and are secured with straps to fasten over footwear. They have rubber or plastic soles for advanced protection against static electricity.

 

Gloves

Barrier gloves are the most common piece of cleanroom garments, and can be made from a variety of materials, depending on your cleanroom’s needs: Latex will fit well but may be allergenic; nitrile gloves are tear and chemical-resistant; vinyl is a low-cost glove material option but it can tear easily. All gloves must be powder free. They are pulled over the wrists to cover the sleeve of the garment. For extra protection, gloves can be layered.

 

Cleanroom garments will vary for different applications including pharmaceutical or laboratory applications, manufacturing cleanrooms, or grow rooms. Combined with good personal hygiene, slow and deliberate movement, and proper training, garments are effective defenses against cleanroom contamination by people. 

Your class standards will be the ultimate guide for what cleanroom garments your application requires. If you have questions about your cleanroom classifications or standards, talk to the experts at Angstrom Technology! We can help you design and install a cleanroom that adheres to any classification your application requires. Visit us online to reach out.

How Much Cleanroom Furniture Do I Need?

How Much Cleanroom Furniture Do I Need?

From the layout of your cleanroom to the procedures you follow to keep it clean, every part of your cleanroom’s design is crucial to its function. This also includes the materials and furniture inside its walls that help you create or test your products. 

Furniture inside a cleanroom serves many purposes. It not only provides spaces for you to develop your work or to support the equipment you use, it also provides comfort and support to your employees and controls excess movement that could be detrimental to your processes.

 

Too Much or Not Enough Cleanroom Furniture?

Generally, the fewer things in your cleanroom the better. Any furniture you use should be streamlined to maximize space and to allow for easy movement of people and air. That being said, you should have enough furniture to ensure your workers are comfortable and they have everything they need in the space to work effectively. Constant exiting and reentering of the cleanroom poses a higher risk of contamination than keeping a clean environment with all of the necessary materials already within the room.

 

Planning Your Cleanroom Furniture

When selecting cleanroom furniture, you’ll need to think about how many people you have working in the cleanroom at any given time who need tables to work at and places to sit. You’ll also need to keep in mind the ways your workers will interact with the furniture, pre-planning paths to doors, cabinets and counters. Every good cleanroom design will include a workflow around your furniture that is obvious and efficient.

The cleanroom furniture itself must comply with the needs of your work. It has to meet standards determined by your class type, be sturdy enough to hold any machinery or equipment you need and be able to withstand the chemicals you work with or use for cleaning.

The furniture you include might be specific to your application, but many types of furniture are needed by most cleanrooms: pieces like tables and chairs, countertops and cabinetry, shelves or other types of storage.

 

Surfaces and Work Areas

Almost every cleanroom will require a table or work surface for employees to use for note-taking, performing detailed work or to support equipment. Tables can either be fixed or moveable with casters. Depending on your cleanroom’s design, countertops may be the best work area because they double as storage, but they must be built into the cleanroom itself. Some cleanroom-specific furniture can be designed to be put away when not in use, which frees up a lot of open space in the room.

 

Chairs or Stools

When deciding on seating for your cleanroom, you’ll need to consider space as well as function. Stools take up less room, but chairs might provide more support and comfort to your workers if they have to remain at their stations for extended periods. Cleanroom seating should be ergonomic for workers as well as your space. Selecting adaptable furniture is a great choice because you can adjust settings to have the piece work for different employees or serve multiple purposes within your cleanroom. Multi-purpose furniture also cuts down on the amount of furniture you need to get the job done.

 

Storage Systems

Proper storage in a cleanroom is essential. Your cleanroom’s storage needs may differ if you must have special containers for cleaning supplies or hazardous materials. Having ample and accessible storage in place will help your cleanroom function effectively. Additionally, places to store materials and extra cleanroom furniture you don’t use all the time can help to keep your space clear of obstacles, which further maximizes the efficiency of your space.

Cabinets and shelves are great storage options that are easy to install and keep materials off the floor. They capitalize on vertical space and can help you keep your work areas clutter and contaminant-free.

 

Your Cleanroom Furniture Should Work For You

Knowing all of the pieces that need to come together within the cleanroom will affect the choices you make during its design. Your cleanroom furniture should enable your workers to be comfortable without getting in the way of important processes. Don’t forget to factor in furniture that supports your equipment such as fume hoods, gowning racks or HVAC vents. You should try to have a general idea of what furniture you’ll need prior to construction. Or, if you’re updating your current furniture, look at the space you’re using to determine how much and what kind of furniture works best.

Is it time to furnish your cleanroom, but you’re not sure where to start? As a cleanroom design, service, and installation company, we can help you choose the furniture that’s right for your classification and your budget. Reach out to Angstrom Technology to get started.