Gerbig Engineering Company Cleanroom Solutions

What does a bank in Bogota, Columbia need with Gerbig cleanrooms?

Tissue BankThis isn’t any ordinary bank. Its deposits are more valuable than money. This is the Banco de Huesos y Tejidos Fundación Cosme y Damián, a Bone and Tissue Bank, a.k.a., The Tissue Bank.

Banco de Huesos y Tejidos Fundacion Cosme y Damian is a mouthful, especially for engineers used to shorter company names like 3M and EV3. As a contamination control engineer, you never know what is waiting for you on the other end of that ringing telephone. Maybe it’s just a single FFU for an internet customer or another medical device room. But occasionally you get a call from a foreign customer seeking advice or guidance about how to begin a cleanroom project. It can be quite a challenge for foreign customers to find competent contamination control engineering or even to find the appropriate equipment for the application.

Gerbig involvement began with a phone call…

“I remember the day I first spoke with Juan Fernando Corral of the Bogota bank, which we now refer to as CYD Bank,” says Tony Lema, Vice President of Engineering. “He was polite and cordial, with a very dignified South American accent. He was trying to source some commercial HVAC equipment.”

We told Juan that we did not represent the type of equipment that he needed, but that we did have a good contact that we could share with him. That contact proved to be very helpful to CYD Bank, so when Juan had a need for a cleanroom contractor, he immediately phoned Gerbig Engineering.

Bone and tissue bank background.

Juan contacted Fred Gerbig, owner and principal engineer, and shared with him the nature of the work that CYD Bank does as a bone and tissue bank. CYD Bank harvests and supplies the highest quality bone and soft tissue material to allow for the reconstruction of tissue defects. Bone grafts are very special in that they do not have to be typed as do organ transplants. Bone recipients do not require immunosuppressant therapy post-operatively.

CYD Bank has helped numerous patients avoid amputation by allowing for tissue transplantation in individuals with malignant tumors. Because bone and tissue transplants are implantable, they require strict contamination control along with constant accountability and environmental monitoring.

Working in Bogota presented no problem for Gerbig.

While a Columbia location might be an insurmountable problem for some U.S.-based cleanroom contractors, not for Gerbig. Within 48 hrs. of the initial phone discussion between Juan and Fred, a plane ticket was purchased and a site visit arranged. With Fred's previous experience in bone and tissue bank projects, he was able to provide guidance on possible layouts for the cleanrooms that would be required.

Bogota's elevation helps keep cooling costs down.

One of the most important and costly aspects of any cleanroom project can be the HVAC cost for cooling the space. But Bogota's elevation is at 8,600 feet, so its temperature is about 60 degrees year around. No wonder it's called “The Land of Eternal Spring.” Since the ambient weather is so predictable, natural ventilation can cool the cleanrooms as opposed to expensive mechanical cooling. Cleanrooms are cooled by taking outdoor air, pre-filtering it with FFU units, then supplying the air into the cleanroom plenums.

Cook exhaust fans with ECM motors were used to regulate room pressures. The fans pulled air from exhaust risers located in the cleanrooms, and were wired back to dampers.

Continuous cleanroom monitoring a must.

Because of the sensitive nature of working with implantable tissues, CYD Bank is required to constantly monitor cleanroom performance and operating conditions. To assist with this requirement, Gerbig worked closely with Airecare Automation to provide cleanroom controls.

Airecare Controls worked with CYD Bank and designed a package that met their specific requirements. Data logging of the pressure transducers was provided so not only are operators able to view pressure differentials, particle counts and temperature but keep a log of that information as well. Each of the three cleanrooms was also equipped with Lighthouse Particle Monitoring systems, allowing for real-time monitoring and logging of the cleanrooms at-rest or operational.

CYD Bank needs to know if at anytime the samples entrusted to them have been compromised in any way. Each cleanroom has a touchscreen monitor mounted into wall panels that allows the operator to view real-time particle counts, temperature and pressure differentials.

Overcoming the complications of minimal space.

The physical cleanrooms themselves offered some complications. They were located on the second floor of the building, which only had small elevators and narrow stairwells. Since the AireCell system is a modular framing system, the material could be moved into the project space with minimal effort – no large pieces.

Our modular system was key in adapting to the existing architecture. It provided a freestanding cleanroom that integrated with the existing walls but also provided a structural ceiling. The ceilings on each floor of the building were only 7'-4." To allow for construction of a plenum space with the limited height, a structural ceiling made it possible because no wires were required. A typical hung ceiling would have made fitting the FFU’s in the plenum impossible; structural ceilings also allow for room-side removal of FFU's, if needed.

Even when cleanroom design details are drawn and specified, it goes without saying that a field change may be required. AireCell framing was able to make the necessary field adjustments possible.

Although the job was located thousands of miles away, AireCell framing and Gerbig Engineering allowed the project to be completed quickly, efficiently and economically.

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