Safe and Effective Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Medical Industry

Safe and Effective Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions for the Medical Industry

Although your cleanroom design is meant to limit the introduction of contaminants into your cleanroom through high-performing HEPA and/or ULPA filters, cleanroom garments and gowning protocols, and airflow patterns, it still needs regular cleaning with proper solvents and methods to maintain its cleanroom classification.

What makes this process successful? The right tools. Working in sensitive environments like medical cleanrooms, it’s vital to use the right cleaning solutions — ones that are powerful enough to sterilize surfaces and kill microorganisms, but gentle enough to not introduce harsh chemicals or contaminants into the controlled environment.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

When it comes to cleanroom cleaning, there are two levels of cleaning which translate to steps in the process: cleaning vs. disinfecting. Understanding the difference between them is crucial — particularly in medical cleanrooms, where high levels of cleanliness are necessary to maintain the cleanroom classification.

Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt, grime, or buildup. This stage uses a mild detergent or soap, followed by a rinse to loosen debris and remove surface particles. 

Disinfection serves the purpose of killing microorganisms that weren’t removed during cleaning. Disinfection is a crucial step in the cleanroom cleaning process, as it sterilizes surfaces to prepare them for work to resume.

Using cleaning agents with disinfectants in tandem will ensure an all-over clean for your controlled environment. Make sure the detergents and disinfectants you choose are compatible, so as to not inhibit active ingredients or cause an unfavorable reaction.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning Solutions

Let’s break down how to choose detergents and disinfectants that are safe to use for your medical cleanroom.

Choosing a Detergent

Detergents used in medical cleanrooms must be effective at breaking down dirt, but not harmful to cause corrosion or particle shedding from surfaces. A simple mild soap with sterile water is often effective for loosening debris. Be sure to follow up with a rinse to remove all particles and prevent buildup.

Choosing a Disinfectant 

Disinfectants come in oxidizing and non oxidizing. Oxidizing disinfectants, such as hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid, are designed to kill a wide variety of microorganisms and are powerful agents. However, they can be harmful to the user and have a greater chance of being reactive with other chemicals, so use oxidizing disinfectants with caution.

Non oxidizing disinfectants, which are typically alcohols or ammonium compounds, target specific antagonists and can be effective when used with a cleaning strategy aimed at the contaminants and microorganisms by which your application is threatened. 

You can also rotate the disinfectants you use to combat contaminants more effectively, but don’t combine a non oxidizing disinfectant with an oxidizing disinfectant. Be sure to research any combination of chemicals thoroughly, as some can cause reactions, toxic fumes, or substances that are not only dangerous for your cleanroom, but also hazardous to the user.

Medical Cleanroom Cleaning Protocols

When cleaning your medical cleanroom, you should have a clear protocol for what needs cleaning, what you’ll use to clean it, and in what order things will be cleaned. Clutter and loose debris should be gathered first, in a top-down approach, so that any dust or particles will move toward uncleaned areas and not risk contaminating what’s already been cleaned. Once loose dirt has been collected, apply your detergent or soap using a clean mop head. Follow up with a thorough rinse to remove any soap residue. 

With cleaning complete, you can then apply disinfectant to kill microorganisms not removed during cleaning. Some disinfectants require rinsing to remove residues, typically using sterile water or an isopropyl alcohol and water solution. Allow the proper drying time before rinsing to ensure the disinfectant has done its job.

Your cleanroom design should include adequate storage for all cleanroom cleaning supplies, detergents, and disinfectants. Ideally, cleaning products should be stored somewhere in the cleanroom so you won’t risk contamination by transporting things in and out of the space each time you need to clean. Storage should be secure and contaminant-free. Always dispose of used cleaning materials and waste responsibly.

Cleanroom Cleaning Tips:

  • Use different mop heads for different parts of the room, i.e. a different tool for the floor than you use on the ceiling and walls.
  • Follow a proper mopping pattern. A proper mopping protocol will ensure that all areas are properly cleaned and disinfected without missing “dirty” sections or drawing contaminants into previously cleaned parts of the surface.
  • Make sure to save mopping for last. Remove waste, clean surfaces, and organize equipment prior to mopping so you won’t track over a cleaned area. Mop from the farthest area from the door backwards so the entire room has been completed and you can safely exit without contaminating the cleaned space.

Are You Cleaning Your Cleanroom Often Enough?

If you’re wondering “how often should my cleanroom be cleaned?” — the answer is probably more often than you think. Every day there will be some level of cleaning required, with special attention paid to heavy use areas like floors and surfaces. Some tasks, like replacing filters and other routine maintenance can be performed at regular intervals throughout the year. Like any well-oiled machine, your cleanroom needs some work to keep it running smoothly and effectively. Paying attention to a regular cleaning schedule, using the right tools and solutions, will make your cleanroom that much more effective.

Cleaning your medical cleanroom will remove any contaminants before they can build up, preventing cross contamination and significantly reducing the risk of chemical interference. Regular cleaning also helps to make sure all systems run effectively, and extends the life of expensive filters. At its most basic function, cleaning resets the space for the next day’s work.

Have a list of cleanroom cleaning products but nowhere to put them? At Angstrom Technology, we design medical cleanrooms of all shapes and sizes, and can include all the sterile storage space you need for detergents, disinfectants, mops and more. Our cleanroom designs are comprehensive, and can reach any cleanroom classification requirements. If you need a cleanroom that works for you, give Angstrom Technology a call.

3 Benefits of Positive Pressure Cleanrooms for Aerospace and Defense Industries

3 Benefits of Positive Pressure Cleanrooms for Aerospace and Defense Industries

Pressurized cleanrooms are used in a range of industries and applications. Varying levels of pressure determines the way air naturally moves in a space. High and low pressure, or positive and negative pressure, can be used as a tool in cleanroom environments to protect against entering contaminants (in positive pressure cleanrooms) or contaminant leakage (in negative pressure cleanrooms). 

We’re going to focus on positive pressure cleanrooms, how they work, and the benefits they offer to aerospace and defense cleanrooms

 

What are Positive Pressure Cleanrooms?

 

Positive pressure cleanrooms have greater air pressure in the cleanroom than the outside environment. In a positive pressure cleanroom, clean, filtered air is consistently pumped into the room through the HEPA filtration and cleanroom HVAC system. In the event that a door or window was opened in the cleanroom, air would rush out into the outside environment. 

This positive pressure ensures that in the event of a breach or leak in the cleanroom, the products and processes within the cleanroom are protected. Because the cleanroom has positive pressure, the air is forced out of the cleanroom, preventing contaminated or unfiltered air from seeping in. 

Positive pressure cleanrooms are most commonly used in applications where the cleanliness of the air within the cleanroom is more important than the air quality outside the cleanrooms. For highly technical applications like microelectronics, aerospace, and defense, where the tiniest particle can damage the quality of the manufactured product, a positive pressure cleanroom affords a number of benefits. 

 

3 Benefits of Positive Pressure Cleanrooms for Aerospace and Defense Industries

 

Positive pressure cleanrooms are beneficial to a wide range of applications. For microelectronics, they afford the cleanliness standard required to minimize damages to electronic components like microchips. For hospital and healthcare applications, positive pressure cleanrooms provide the controlled environment healthcare professionals need to keep patients safe. 

But outside these common applications, positive pressure cleanrooms also provide a wealth of benefits for other industries. Let’s look at three benefits of positive pressure cleanrooms for aerospace and defense industries:

 

#1 Maintain Cleanroom Classification

 

One of the key benefits of a positive pressure cleanroom for aerospace and defense industries is the cleanroom’s ability to maintain its classification. Because clean, filtered air is constantly being pumped into the cleanroom, it’s very difficult for contaminants or particles to enter. Particles must work against the flow of air to enter a positive pressure cleanroom, which helps to keep your cleanroom at its required classification. This ensures your cleanroom is able to regulate itself with ease, with minimal maintenance or upkeep from your staff. 

 

#2 Keep Out Debris and Particles

 

For aerospace and defense cleanroom applications, debris and particulate can be exceptionally damaging. When you’re working to manufacture sensitive products like microchips, defense products, aircraft, or even spacecraft, the smallest particle can affect the quality of the manufactured product. 

Positive pressure cleanrooms work to assist aerospace and defense applications by making it very difficult for debris and particles to enter the cleanroom. Even when an employee is entering a cleanroom or opening a pass-through, the positive pressure of the cleanroom forces the excess air in the room out, minimizing the potential for contaminated air or particulate to enter the cleanroom. This is particularly useful in research and manufacturing applications where a highly controlled environment is key to the success of the project or process. 

 

#3 Protect Sensitive Work

 

Many aerospace and defense applications deal with sensitive electronics and sensors and navigation system calibration. This type of work requires a well-controlled environment. Even the smallest particle can disrupt sensitive navigation systems or compromise the quality of a sensor or microchip. 

For aerospace and defense applications like this, a positive pressure cleanroom provides the necessary level of protection from contaminants. A positive pressure cleanroom is first developed to meet the application’s classification standards, and provides an extra level of protection thanks to the nature of positive pressure. 

In addition to meeting cleanroom classifications, the positive pressure cleanroom makes it much more difficult for debris and particulate to enter the cleanroom, protecting even the most sensitive aerospace and defense research, calibration, and manufacturing processes. 

 

Positive Pressure Cleanrooms Benefit a Variety of Aerospace and Defense Applications

 

Positive pressure cleanrooms are the ideal choice for a variety of aerospace and defense applications. From electronics and microchip manufacturing to aircraft and spacecraft production to navigation system calibration, there are a number of processes that can benefit from the extremely controlled environment a positive pressure cleanroom provides. 

Is a positive pressure cleanroom right for your application? Let the Angstrom Technology team know. We design, manufacture, and install cleanrooms for custom applications in the aerospace and defense industry and beyond. If you’re looking for a cleanroom that fits your unique application and cleanroom classification, we can help. Give us a call at 888-768-6900 or contact us online today for more information.

 

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How to Upgrade your Cleanroom

How to Upgrade your Cleanroom

As Greek philosopher Heroclitus said, “There is nothing permanent except change.” While the conditions in your cleanroom are designed to stay the same, your work rarely does. If your project needs are evolving, you might find yourself needing to meet new cleanroom classification requirements. Even a seemingly small jump to a more stringent ISO Class can be a big change for your facility. How do you make the leap? Let’s work through what upgrading your cleanroom will look like, and how to start the process. 

 

Upgrading Your Cleanroom Classification?

Start Here.

 

If you have to move to a more stringent qualification, the first thing you have to do is take a hard look at your cleanroom classification. Start with your classification as it stands and look at the specific areas you need to adjust to achieve the next level of cleanliness. To do that, we have to break down what’s in a classification. While there’s much more involved than just these three elements, the main differences between classifications are defined by:

  • Allowed particles (by number and size)
  • Air changes per hour (or airflow velocity)
  • Percentage of ceiling coverage of FFUs (filter fan units)

When upgrading your cleanroom, you’ll need to make changes to address these three areas in order to make your cleanroom more clean. In addition to ISO standards, your cleanroom upgrade will also reflect necessary changes specific to your new project or scope of work. Consider your new application or purpose and what upgrades will ensure success in your future endeavors. This could include more control over temperature and humidity, more space for equipment, cabinetry and other storage, cleanroom furniture, lighting, ESD-safe materials, or other specialized features. 

 

Redesigning Your Cleanroom

 

Whether you’re upgrading your cleanroom to meet a new classification, to match a new purpose, or both, there are several factors you should consider when redesigning your space. Your cleanroom upgrade encompasses the layout and structure of your space, your cleanroom’s systems, and how to maintain your new classification once reached.

Reconfiguring Your Cleanroom Layout

 

When redesigning your cleanroom layout, you can easily rearrange modular panels to create the new space and shape that works for your new project. Add more panels for a larger cleanroom, or remove and store extras for a more controlled, condensed space. Your upgraded cleanroom may require more space for additional personnel, large equipment, or room to move carts and transport products, so be sure to factor these potential needs into your cleanroom redesign.

If you’re upgrading your cleanroom to a more stringent classification, or your project parameters are changing significantly, you may need to choose a different structure altogether.  Consider these three types of cleanrooms for your redesigned facility:

  • HardWall Cleanrooms: Offering increased security and the highest possible control, HardWall cleanrooms are able to meet the strictest classification standards effortlessly.
  • SoftWall Cleanrooms: The most flexible cleanroom type, SoftWalls are easy to expand, reconfigure and fit in small spaces. They’re an affordable modular option with room to grow.
  • RigidWall Cleanrooms: With less flexibility than HardWalls but more stability than SoftWalls, RigidWall cleanrooms are a minimalist middle ground made of solid clear panels — great for showing off your operations to investors.

Upgrading Cleanroom HVAC System

 

Upgrading your cleanroom will likely also require upgrading the systems that support it. You may be able to update your existing cleanroom HVAC system or add a dedicated system if your new classification requires more control over temperature and humidity. A powerful and reliable HVAC system does more than just keep your employees comfortable. It also helps to maintain a stable atmosphere for any sensitive hardware or substances you work with, and prevents machinery from overheating. 

Humidity control can help avoid potential problems that come with too much moisture such as condensation and contamination, which could impact productivity by extending drying time or causing products or processes to fail. A cleanroom HVAC system that is in tune with your project and facility’s needs will keep your cleanroom clean and consistent.

Meeting New Cleanroom Filtration Requirements

 

Your cleanroom classification will specify your allowed particle count, as well as the minimum air changes needed to clean the air effectively. When upgrading your cleanroom, you will likely need to increase your air change rate and capture more and smaller particles. You can achieve this by adding more fan filter units to increase your percentage of ceiling coverage. This is also a good time to check and/or replace HEPA filters to make sure they are effectively removing particles from the air.

Additionally, rearranging your layout or furniture might require the implementation of a new airflow pattern. Furniture or equipment can block filters and interrupt the flow of air, creating pockets of turbulent air or spaces where contaminants could be trapped. To find the best airflow pattern that works with your upgraded cleanroom, work with a cleanroom design expert. They can use computational fluid dynamics to model your cleanroom airflow pattern and make decisions about layout that will improve air change efficiency and support the healthy life of your HEPA filters.

Proper airflow with effective filtration will ensure you are removing particles consistently and reaching appropriate levels for your new classification. Once it reaches that level of clean, all you have to do is keep it there.

Maintaining Your Cleanroom Classification

 

Once you’ve upgraded your cleanroom to its new classification, congratulations! Now you’re done, right? Unfortunately, reaching new requirements is only half of the battle. Most of the work lies in supporting your upgraded cleanroom with regular maintenance and cleaning. Follow through with regular maintenance tasks like cleaning procedures, replacing pre-filters, and servicing equipment to make sure your cleanroom stays in top condition. 

Your cleanroom should be checked regularly to make sure it complies with your classification standard. If your cleanroom falls in the ISO Class 5 or lower category, it will need to be monitored with particle count tests biannually, per ISO 14644-2. Cleanrooms with less stringent standards are checked once each year.

Keep up with scheduled maintenance and monitoring tasks to make sure your cleanroom meets its new standards completely and consistently.

If you need to upgrade your cleanroom to a higher classification, we can help. We’ll take a look at what you’ve got, and determine the best way to get you where you need to be. Once you’ve reached your goal, we can add you to our regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, so you don’t have to worry about consistently meeting your classification standards. Reach out to Angstrom Technology for all of your cleanroom needs today!

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3 Common Types of Cleanrooms

3 Common Types of Cleanrooms

If you know you need a controlled space to operate your business, a cleanroom is designed to help you achieve a completely clean environment to work, while managing environmental factors like temperature, humidity, static, and pressure. Whether you’re manufacturing, developing, inventing, testing, or packaging, various cleanroom types will offer you different features. Some might be better suited for certain cleanroom classifications or offer special features or more compatibility with your unique application. Let’s take a look at three common types of cleanrooms: HardWall, SoftWall, RigidWall cleanrooms.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms

 

For cleanrooms with rigorous classification standards, HardWall cleanrooms are designed to comply with any cleanroom classifications, even the most stringent (ISO Class 1).

HardWall cleanrooms can be freestanding or incorporated into an existing building. Made using a coated aluminum frame with a prefabricated panel, HardWall modular cleanroom panels are designed to achieve a high level of control over static, pressure, humidity, and contamination.

A great advantage of HardWall cleanrooms is that they can be installed in an existing structure around mounted equipment, using light from the building’s windows and connecting to the existing HVAC system. This cleanroom type also offers extreme environmental control beyond particle count and air changes. In addition to management of temperature, static, and humidity, HardWall cleanrooms can be pressurized if your classification requires extra contaminant protection. 

HardWall cleanrooms can comply with any industry specific requirements and are well suited for all cleanroom applications such as medical cleanrooms —  including research and pharmaceuticals —  aerospace cleanrooms, and even sensitive electronics manufacturing or semiconductor cleanrooms. HardWall cleanrooms can be easily modified or reconfigured by adding or removing modular panels, and are durable enough to be reused, relocated, and repurposed while maintaining their quality.

 

SoftWall Cleanrooms

 

SoftWall cleanrooms are a minimalist, lightweight cleanroom type that can accommodate most cleanroom classification standards. SoftWall cleanrooms can fit in almost any space and are fully customizable with a wide variety of filtration options, door types, and other modifications. 

Featuring an aluminum alloy frame and clear or opaque vinyl curtains around the perimeter, SoftWall cleanrooms are designed to be more compact, so they can work almost anywhere in your facility — even within another cleanroom. Of course, if you’re looking to expand, custom sizes are available. Curtains are made from anti-static or conductive PVC or polyethylene. 40 mil clear is the standard option, but frosted or clear anti-static vinyl are also available as well, in a range of colors for UV absorption. During installation, wiring is installed on-site, with optional pre-assembled wiring harnesses. You can also choose to install standard fan filter units and a control panel for FFUs, lighting, and other wiring. 

SoftWall Cleanrooms are able to reach most cleanroom classifications, and are ideally suited for ISO Classes 4-8.

If you’re looking for an affordable cleanroom option that’s easy to assemble and maintain, a SoftWall cleanroom would be perfectly suited for your application. SoftWall cleanrooms have the advantage of being an affordable modular option that don’t sacrifice their high performance capacity. Their extremely flexible design makes them a great choice for applications that need room to grow, including plastics manufacturing, automotive cleanrooms, growrooms, and some medical cleanroom applications.

 

RigidWall Cleanrooms

 

RigidWall cleanrooms can also provide a suitable environment for applications with less stringent classification requirements, with some flexibility that allows you to make changes as necessary to the layout and design of your cleanroom. RigidWall panels have a durability comparable to HardWalls, with full visibility floor to ceiling. They are best used for cleanrooms with classifications ISO Class 5-8.

With a choice of acrylic, static dissipative PVC, or polycarbonate wall panels, a RigidWall cleanroom will house your operations in a transparent, attractive style. Unlike the SoftWall curtain or the utilitarian HardWall panels, RigidWall panels are sleek and minimalist. Flat, clear panels allow easier monitoring of the cleanrooms while also creating an attractive feature for the space, making them a perfect frame to show off your work to investors.

An advantage of RigidWall cleanrooms is that they are easy to maintain. Although they aren’t as flexible as SoftWall panels, RigidWalls can be modified with some effort, or even stored if you need to free space for something else. RigidWall panels can be customized in size with heights up to 7-14 feet, and come pre-wired with outlets and switches to control lighting, fans, and equipment. Panels are suspended from a strong ceiling grid which, fully-secured, means the panels will maintain their shape and integrity over time.

RigidWall cleanrooms make a high-performance choice for a number of applications such as automotive cleanrooms, aerospace cleanrooms, and some medical device packaging and plastics cleanrooms.

All cleanroom types can be fully customized or modified to your unique application. Whether you need a highly controlled environment to meet stringent cleanroom classification requirements or an affordable option to allow your operations to grow, a HardWall, SoftWall, or RigidWall cleanroom would be a great choice for your facility.

Still not sure which cleanroom type is best for your application? Talk to the experts at Angstrom Technology. No matter what type of cleanroom you need, we can help you design and install it. To help you decide which cleanroom type is best for you, give us a call!

5 Benefits of Hardwall Cleanrooms for the Aerospace Industry

5 Benefits of Hardwall Cleanrooms for the Aerospace Industry

Aerospace cleanrooms often require high levels of control, regulated by high cleanroom classifications. To achieve stringent standards, while allowing flexibility for project changes and environmental adjustments, some of the best cleanrooms for the aerospace industry are HardWall cleanrooms. Let’s look at five benefits HardWall cleanrooms can offer your aerospace projects.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Stable

When working within a cleanroom environment, having control over environmental variables can make or break a project. That’s why a stable cleanroom is so important for all cleanroom applications, but especially for those with higher cleanroom classifications. At best, instability can make your work unpredictable and unproductive; at worst, someone could get hurt. To avoid these scenarios, you need a cleanroom you can trust to keep your products and people safe; one that will allow you to control your environment and limit contamination by unwanted forces or particles as much as possible.

HardWall cleanrooms offer the most stability of any modular cleanroom. Particularly for higher classification and specialized aerospace cleanrooms, this cleanroom type offers more control across a wide range of requirements. The sturdy floor-to-ceiling panels create a fully sealed space for total power over environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and pressure. If your cleanroom needs the ability to control minute differences effectively and conveniently, a HardWall cleanroom is the best choice for your project.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Customized

The best cleanroom for any project is one that is uniquely suited to your application, yet also versatile enough to adapt to your needs as your work develops. With HardWall cleanrooms, you can have both. HardWall modular cleanroom panels are fully customizable for your application, equipment specifications, and cleanroom classification. The panels are hardwearing for heavy use and can conform to your desired level of control as you need it. 

In the aerospace industry, the customization is particularly valuable. If your project requirements change from development to manufacturing to assembly, your cleanroom can be modified to meet new standards. If you need to change your layout to accommodate larger equipment or hardware, HardWall cleanrooms are easy to adapt, add to, reconfigure, or even relocate to a new space. All cleanrooms are an investment, but with a Hardwall cleanroom, you get the most out of your money.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Convenient

If you need to set up a project quickly, or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of building a cleanroom from the floor up, you won’t find a better quality or more convenient option than a modular HardWall cleanroom. Each modular panel is built to your specifications offsite to later be assembled with ease at your desired location. Working with an expert cleanroom designer, you can choose the ideal layout for your cleanroom and decide on important design features ahead of time. Modular cleanroom panels arrive prewired for efficiency, with insulation already built-in, so you can get your new aerospace cleanroom up and running as soon as possible. 

Once installed, HardWall cleanrooms are easy to maintain and clean. The stationary wall design is more convenient to sanitize than a flexible one, so you can feel confident in your cleaning results. Made of non-particle shedding and non-off gassing materials, your HardWall cleanroom will protect your work with little effort required, for as long as you need it.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Durable

In the aerospace industry, the products you develop and manufacture are designed to endure some of the most extreme conditions. Shouldn’t your cleanroom be just as durable? HardWall cleanrooms are constructed with heavy-duty frames that can either be attached to the floor or suspended from a reinforced ceiling grid. The modular panels won’t sag or bend over time and are guaranteed to be a long-lasting, secure, and chemically-resistant solution.

Designed to stand up in the toughest environments, HardWall cleanrooms are perfectly suited for aerospace applications. With this kind of durability, your work and investment will be safe and well-protected.

 

HardWall Cleanrooms Are Adaptable

A major benefit of modular HardWall cleanrooms is that they are incredibly adaptable. Modular panels can be arranged and installed almost anywhere. If you want your cleanroom located within an existing room or structure, a HardWall cleanroom can be easily installed, no new build required. HardWall cleanrooms can either be freestanding, suspended from a strong ceiling grid, or attached to an existing building structure.

HardWall cleanrooms can adapt to your space seamlessly, with either a separate HVAC system or integration with your building’s existing systems. Your cleanroom can also utilize light from existing windows and be designed around mounted equipment and utilities. If your project requirements change, the modular panels can be reconfigured, expanded, or condensed to meet new classification requirements or accommodate new equipment or hardware.

These modular cleanrooms are so versatile and reliable, they have us wondering: What can’t HardWall cleanrooms do? If you’re looking for a top-quality cleanroom that will give you full control over your space with the added convenience of prefabricated modular panels, this cleanroom type is the best choice for your aerospace project.

Time to install a HardWall cleanroom in your facility? Let us know! Our team can help design and install the cleanroom that’s perfect for your application. To get started on your project, give us a call or reach out to us online.

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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.