Cleanroom mechanical control and monitoring system

Do you have any idea what your cleanroom is doing right now?

Cleanroom can be viewed as a tool or instrument of many imports throughputs and outputs, like any well oiled machine that is used in production.

There are many different types of cleanroom. By definition designed to comply with a specific standard, that standard may be imposed by government bodies licensing authorities prime contract holders franchise heads, or multinational clients.

The standards imposed by external stakeholders may include:

  • Good Manufacturing Practice
  • Theraupeutic Goods Administration
  • The Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention and Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme
  • International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14644
  • Federal Standard FED 209e (cancelled on November 29, 2001)
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Standard
  • etc.

 

Internal stakeholders are likely to have their own set of “standards” that they need their facility to run at.

These may include such things as:

  • Personnel flow;
  • Product flow;
  • Economy;
  • Efficiency.

 

These are to assure the production profitability or return on investment.

As we could all agree a cleanroom can be a substantial production investment!

Whether you’re driving a car down a road or searching Google analytics, if you want to know more detail on how something is performing, all you usually do is look at your dashboard.

Do you have a dashboard for your cleanroom?

 

If you had a dashboard for your cleanroom what would it look like?

What would be its purpose?

And what would be the necessary features of measurement?

 

If these questions have given you reason to ponder, or if you would like to uncross your fingers and breathe a sigh of relief knowing your production facility is compliant; whether it’s outside specification or even if security might be an issue, then:

 

Relax: we have something that can help you!

 

Easy to use: takes very little time in training to grasp the fundamentals of operation.

Easy to understand: although we have dealt with companies, where all cleanroom personnel were astrophysicists, we understand that not all production personnel need to understand every detail of the entire process.

Graphically driven: minimising down time as problems can be efficiently identified.

Locally based: system can be located on a local PC and not connected to the Internet, minimising security issues.

Web based: allowing for greater access to your key personnel in the event of an issue.
cleanroom control systemImagine a critical failure when your production manager is off-site at a meeting. It can cost you hours or days to solve the issue with the production manager away.

Alternatively you can have an Internet service, he can identify what’s wrong and instruct someone to fix the problem without even needing to be on-site.

How much does downtime costing per hour during a production run?

 

So what do you need to measure?

 

At minimum, most facilities want to measure:

  • room pressure;
  • temperature;
  • humidity;
  • personnel flow /doors open (for pressure losses);
  • product flow/doors open ( for pressure losses);
  • lighting;
  • efficiency;
  • security.

 

So what do you need to log?


Okay, so you think the logging may be useful, either because it’s required for statutory requirements.

Or perhaps you need to confirm conditions over an extended period to identify any deviation of conditions while production is underway.

This can mean anything from life sciences, biosciences or microbiology labs where cultures are grown over a period of time, through to research and development, lithography or fibre-optics.

Control Panel assembly where temperature deviation or particulate deviation can result in increased rates of product failure.

 

So let’s ask a different question. Not what you need to log, what you can log, because all you need on the dashboard of any car is the speedometer so to as avoid speeding, right?

But we really do find useful the petrol gauge the oil light, the temperature gauge, the clock, and others.

 

 

So what’s possible with a cleanroom control system?

There is a vast array of possibilities: basically if you can find a sensor, it can be displayed and logged in some way, however below is a list of the most common:

  1. Pressure
  2. Temperature
  3. Humidity
  4. Cooling system operation
  5. Heating system operation
  6. Exhaust fan operation
  7. Supply fan operation
  8. Air balancing operation
  9. Personnel flow /doors open (for pressure losses)
  10. Product flow/doors open (for pressure losses)
  11. Lighting
  12. Economy
  13. Efficiency
  14. Security (magnetic/key/pin code/biometric)

 

AJC decided that you need to log some of the above functions, but displaying all these on your dashboard would make a very confusing dashboard right?

 

I hear you asking yourself, once you recording all this information how you decide what need your attention?

I’m glad you asked, if you set up an alarm system over the top of the recorded information, the alarm system draws your attention to any item these outside predetermined parameters. Multiple levels alarming can be configured giving you an alert level and an action level.

This may sound familiar to some people out there because there are some standards that require this type of management.

 

Don’t be concerned that this may be too complex and difficult to your technicians to understand,

let me show you how simple this can be.

See in the picture below there is a map of the facility, on them at the designated areas above the map is a list of temperatures in those areas, none of them are red in colour, meaning no attention is required.

cleanroom software screenshot

Simple isn’t it.

 

 

Map of facility

Okay he caught me out, and you can see some red it happens to be on the alarm push button, go and have a look at that alarm and find out what’s going on. So if we pressed the alarm push button on our computer screens what happens. We get the screen below.

cleanroom software screen

 

 

Alarm system

This alarm displayed here is a level one alarm and, it’s a specific fault with the variable air volume control box (VAV) number three.

Now we know firstly that there is a problem, we understand which component is involved, this should help us identify what course of action to undertake to resolve it.

Now I can hear you saying this is too simple any some in for my facility manager who understands how stuff works he needs to know which item in the system failed, some facility managers are engineers and a quite technical, may need to understand more of how to plant is operating as a whole, as part of the package there may be some value in the below graphics with data.

cleanroom software screen

 

 

Mechanical services (chiller scematic)

A schematic will identify what the control package is requesting, in addition to what is being delivered, a very useful diagnostic tool that can be configured to any layout and configurations.

 

You facility manager tells you not to use chilled water which is what the picture is above.

Telling them to look at the below picture this is the Air handling unit of a direct expansion system. (Is he smiling now?)

cleanroom software screenshot

 

 

Air handling unit performance and layout

I need to take this opportunity to let you know that these graphics are not static: if there is a problem with the component, it flashes red, if it is a fan, it will actually revolve or change its color depending on the function its performing.

These systems are based on generic building management systems, they may run entire universities, multi-storey buildings and many other functions.

You hear this and think to yourself: “It must be expensive!”, however it isn’t really, a cheap basic system is quite effective if being used properly.

Of course the larger and more complex systems can cost more and can get quite expensive, but these are seldom used, like everywhere, the art is in balancing functionality and costs.

 

Note: not all control packages are the same, there are specific control packages that cannot be expanded but are exceptionally good at what they do, and there are some that can be greatly expanded, however have very low functionality in the first place.

So choose wisely, as certain systems are only suited for a specific situation; if you get the wrong one you could be wasting your money.

cleanroom software screen