Brendon McManus, Commercial Director of Clean Air Technologies Ltd. explains the importance of maintaining your cleanroom
Having just experienced the problem of a company vehicle failing its annual M.O.T., our attention focused on aspects of cost, inconvenience and the inevitable issues of safety. We had the car regularly serviced so why did it fail? The garage admitted to only checking the items they were contracted to do and not to looking at the car as a whole. The schedule of service tasks had subsequently not taken into account the rigours endured from UK roads and the resulting wear and tear on the rear suspension of heavy test equipment in the boot. I was drawn to an analogy of running a car and my business of servicing cleanrooms. Typically, cleanroom operators implement validation tasks, such as particle counts, HEPA filter installations leak tests on a regular basis to assess and ensure airborne particle counts meets certain designated standards. These routine service tasks relate solely to the air quality in a controlled environment. However, can it be said that equal consideration is given to the condition and operation of the mechanical and electrical components that work together to ensure the cleanroom performs to its operational specification? This is where a measured, monitored and methodical approach is critical to the sure and effective operation of a cleanroom. Moreover, as with a car M.O.T., do you know what to expect despite best efforts endeavoured? Our company ensures the highest of operational procedures in all aspects of air movement plant equipment. These procedures include meticulous levels of maintenance and ongoing performance testing. We liaise with the client to provide detailed analysis - such as that of a cleanroom M.O.T. checklist. Implementation by our current clients has proven to minimise cleanroom downtime, increase plant longevity and alert the cleanroom operator in advance to plant deterioration and to budget for future replacement. Additionally, operators are provided with a datum for future benchmarking of cleanroom performance when assessing the implications of system modifications and any concurrent operational changes. Below is a list of recommendations gained through experience and the conversion of sound business theories and principles into working practice.
Air handling unit:
"A drive belt broke in the air handling unit resulting in the loss of air pressure in my cleanroom and four hours downtime while I sourced a replacement belt at a cost of £12 for the belt and thousand of pounds in lost production."
Air movement system
"We lost pressure gradually in our room, the belts and the filters seemed fine, it was not until I was in the car park to leave, did I notice the autumn leaves blocking the air intake grille. Next day, I removed the leaves and the pressures returned"
Energy usage (CO2 emissions)
"By modifying our air conditioning control system by fitting a time switch to control temperature only during periods of occupancy, we paid for the modification in three months in reduced energy consumption with the added benefit of reduced wear and tear. "
Fabric and structural checks
" We had an HSE inspection and the inspector checked that our emergency lights and door interlock were tested regularly and results recorded"
"We found that through investment in training of our cleanroom personnel we received an tangible benefit, as we found our daily particle counts improved immediately"
'Prevention is better than failure'
Modern day cleanroom managers need to strictly control their budget, and make informed decisions. These can only be made with all the facts. Accurate monitoring and recording of all strategic component's performance will allow effective cleanroom management utilising the data as the cleanroom key performance indicators. A non-informed manager will only know they have a cleanroom performance problem on component failure, with the ensuing downtime and costs while the fault is identified and then rectified or when there is a increase in product failure, with the related decrease in profitability warranty costs and loss of reputation The above checks are beneficial to all operators ensuring less downtime, the planning of future upgrades or repairs to the area or air-handling units. They also allow you the operator to know and understand your cleanroom. Also ensuring that when Clean Air Technologies Ltd and other specialists come to call you will know and understand both what is happening and why it is beneficial to you. To finish the analogy: Your cleanroom may be regularly serviced but would it pass its Clean Air Technologies M.O.T.??
Contact Clean Air Technologies: tel: +44 (0)1634 725295