How important is the design process of a cleanroom before construction?

What Are Cleanrooms, and How Do They Work?

Many production processes need a regulated atmosphere to manufacture products that would pass quality tests. They need cleanrooms to limit the amount of dirt, dust, humidity, and more in the manufacturing area. Manufacturing and packing medical instruments, producing electronics and computers, preparing food, and some military applications are just a few industries with stringent environmental standards.

The Cleanroom Approach to Designing Before Construction and the Benefits of Doing So

Cleanrooms can be compared to race cars when it comes to perfection. They are incredibly effective performance machines when properly conceived, designed, and constructed. They give erroneous output and are unreliable when poorly designed and constructed.

Let us look at the use of cleanrooms to understand the importance of designing them before constructing them.

Cleanrooms are used at three levels: building, resting, and operational.

While the built and rest levels have a lower risk of contamination, the operational level is where not just the risk of contamination but also the factors for future considerations arise.

The operational level describes the cleanroom where all the tools and supplies are moved around and people are working. The particle count varies at this stage invariably. Manufacturing processes or machinery that works flawlessly outside of a cleanroom may be a source of pollution inside one. Understandably, particulates result from any process that involves movement or friction. Adhering to basic protocols and procedures, such as house cleaning, gowning, and workflow is crucial to preventing a significant rise in contaminants at the operational level. Sources of contamination include metal shavings, gases, oil mist, fumes from outgassing polymers, oil mist from pneumatic machinery, and many more. Further isolating the machine in the cleanroom might be required to avoid contaminating the remainder of the process. A convenient option is to create a cleanroom inside of a cleanroom, often using drapes or dividers.

The cleanroom design is dependent on multiple operational factors so employing a specialist clean room manufacturer early in the process of cleanroom design and construction helps keep particulate count in check at all levels.

Clean Room Manufacturers Need to Consider Before Designing the Layout and Sketch of the Floor Plan

While the pre-design phase needs the owners to finalise the ISO standards to comply with, the design phase has several points to consider, including but not limited to the following:

  1. For what industry is the cleanroom being put to use?
  2. Which other class (apart from ISO), degree, rule, or recommendation must you abide by?
  3. What is the use of the room? A detailed description of the step-by-step process must be outlined.
  4. What are the classed rooms’ (clean spaces’) measurements in terms of length, width, and height? A quick sketch or more intricate layout drawing is quite beneficial!
  5. How many antechambers, dressing areas, or airlocks are required? One or more airlocks are necessary for each room to be cleaner than ISO 8.
  6. Is there a need for an interlock system? A door interlock stops two doors from opening unintentionally at the same time. To protect the integrity of the airlock, the other doors are locked when one door is opened.
  7. Windows information – dimensions, shape, quantity, placement, e.g., windows on the exterior walls every X feet; flush mount (more expensive, cleaner appearance, simpler to clean); or semi-flush with gasket.
  8. Size and type of windows-Manual or touch-free opener with an automatic opening (wave hand across sensor)?
  9. Location, quantity, and door details and the doors’ design – High-speed roll-up doors; sliding doors; single swing doors; double swing doors?
  10. Flooring requirements such as vinyl floor with welded seams or an epoxy-coated floor.
  11. Pass-throughs and/or cart-throughs (material handling)
  12. Cleanroom sink: amount, eyewash, and shower, if necessary?
  13. Do you require coving? The harder-to-clean 90° corners are eliminated by coving using the walls’ corners and the space between them and the ceiling.
  14. Particular chemical resistance. What cleaning agents or solvents do you use? Do you use any chemicals in your method for the cleanroom design and constructionunits, or do cleanroom manufacturing companies need to consider them?
  15. HVAC parameters, the environment, and the ventilation system
  16. How many workers will you employ in your facility to satisfy your manufacturing demands?
  17. Any rooms in need of extraction? You might need to extract air for your risky procedure or a dust-producing operation.
  18. What electrical machinery is producing heat gain?
  19. The location of your equipment (mills, ovens, sterilisation, freezers, and more.) to be powered for the position of electrical outlets must be considered when planning the requirements of your process.
  20. The location of the site and the factors related to the location that could, should and would affect the cleanroom.
  21. How many people can need to work in the room simultaneously on average and at most?
  22. What is the tolerance and setpoint for the temperature?
  23. What is the setpoint and tolerance for humidity?
  24. Is there space for the ductwork above the cleanroom?
  25. How much space is available, and how much space is viable?
  26. Is there room for the mechanical room/air handling unit next to the cleanroom?
  27. The overall height of the ceiling (measured from the floor to the bottom of the joists) in the cleanroom building.
  28. Does the structure have a receiving dock?
  29. How far is it from the cleanroom location from the reception area?
  30. The project is on what floor?
  31. Any need for escalators or stairs?

Estimating HVAC Required

Let’s say you begin with four employees in your cleanroom and later discover that ten or more are required. The cleanroom quickly becomes warm and uncomfortable due to the added body heat and any heat-generating equipment in the space. Remember that the essential cleanroom attire consists of a smock, boots, and a hair covering. Anything more hygienic than ISO Class 7 necessitates extra protection, such as masks, beard covers, and goggles. Planning for HVAC should lean on the side of caution.

Cleanroom vs Clear Zones

In cleanrooms, the particle count is monitored and regulated. A certain degree of cleanliness is required.

A clean zone is a place that is even cleaner than the rest of a cleanroom, similar to an injection operation mould. Additionally, a manufacturer may isolate particular regions and not be required to keep them at a specific ISO standard.

Future Consideration

Business does not remain static. As business needs or conditions change, you may either need to transfer to a larger facility due to expansion or a rise in your demand for clean manufacturing space or vice-a-versa.

In a cleanroom, modularity is crucial. When your needs grow, you may quickly expand the size of your cleanroom with a modular design without having to throw away any of your initial cleanroom investment.

Additionally, you may take your modular cleanroom with you if you relocate to a different facility by taking it apart. Additionally, some cleanroom designs feature casters that make moving the enclosure around your production floor simple.

Investing in an expert from the early planning phase onwards is advisable as constructing without proper design can cost the business dearly. Experts can assist you in troubleshooting airflow difficulties, the types of testing techniques you must utilise, and how to build cleanroom protocols.

A knowledgeable cleanroom design and construction specialist will bring out topics you will not even consider.

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Coral Lasalle