Sustainable Cleanroom Practices: Washable Sticky Mats

Efforts to go green in a controlled environment range from large to small. Something as simple as using a washable sticky mat can have a huge effect.

Cleanrooms require a large amount of energy and resources to function properly, which can make it difficult for environmentally-conscientious managers to make their facilities more eco-friendly. We’ve discussed some ideas about recycling and modular cleanrooms as they relate to going green, but there are certainly smaller-scale steps you can take, too. One example is considering washable sticky mats.

Sticky mats remove particulate matter form casters, wheel carts, and shoes before they enter a controlled environment. The mats come in various sizes and styles. Peel up sticky mats are sometimes changed as often as every couple of hours. The amount of polyethylene one facility is putting into a landfill adds up quickly with pull up mats. Washable mats, however, are easy to care for, very effective, and last years.

Washable sticky mats are changed as often as needed depending on the number of people who walk over it and the overall cleanliness of the area. You don’t need a frame for a sticky mat, but it does make it easier to remove the mat without leaving adhesive residue on the cleanroom floor. Frames can simply be laid on the floor, held in place with double-sided tape, or even permanently affixed to the floor.

Cleaning this kind of mat is simple. You mop the top of the mat using a high-quality detergent, squeegee the excess water off, and then when the mat has finished drying, it will be rejuvenated. The mats are resistant to most chemicals, unaffected by gamma or x-rays, and with proper maintenance, will regenerate 100% for 2-4 years.

In addition to the eco-friendly benefits, you save money reusing these mats. Every step you take towards a green cleanroom, no matter how small, has a significant impact on your footprint.

When it’s time for cleanroom validation or certification, Gerbig provides all the services and expertise you need. We’ve been working with cleanrooms for thirty years, and we know what you need to be compliant. Gerbig also manufactures softwall and hardwall cleanrooms. Let us know how we can help you succeed: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com

Chemicals to Avoid when Cleaning Cleanrooms

When choosing your cleaning solvents, ensure you’re not using solutions with either of these agents.

It should go without saying that keeping a cleanroom and cleanroom components clean is a top priority for any industry. The obstacle is that if you can’t physically clean surfaces, which is the most fastidious yet successful method, you have to choose chemicals, all of which leave behind some sort of residue. The key, then, is to choose a chemical that leaves the “right” kind of residue behind.

In looking at your many options, there are chemicals that you should certainly avoid. MaryBeth DiDonna wrote an article for Controlled Environments, “Choosing Your Cleaning Chemicals,” that offers guidance on this. She includes the expertise of Dr. Robert Baier, head of the biomaterials program at the University of Buffalo, and Ed and Barbara Kanegsberg of BFK Solutions in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Baier warns against silicones because they’re strong surface-active materials. He’s quoted in the article: “If you have a small contaminant in one corner of a table, by the next week the entire table will be covered [along with] anything on it. It will change the surface properties of a material like silicon or germanium or anything else you may be working on. In, say, an integrated circuit fabrication facility — everything will be siliconized and nearly impossible to be removed.”

The other caution that experts mention in the article is ultrapure water.

Ed Kanegsberg explains that this level of purity acts both as a strong base and strong acid simultaneously, looking to extract ions wherever possible. Barbara Kanegsberg explains where ultrapure water finds the ions:

“In part from the thing that you’re trying to wash or rinse, whatever you’re trying to do. That doesn’t mean that we should be using impure water, but it’s a matter of being mindful of what the chemical is. And water in itself, depending on the situation, can be a rather harsh chemical in terms of the quality of the surface.”

So when you’re doing the research to find the best chemical solvents for your facility, heed the warnings to avoid silicones and ultrapure water. When it’s time for cleanroom validation or certification, turn to a company with the right experience and knowhow. Gerbig Engineering Company has been a trusted expert on cleanrooms for thirty years. We offer many services for cleanroom validation, certification, and construction. Contact us at 888-628-0056 or info@gerbig.com.

Sustainable Cleanroom Practices: Modular Cleanrooms

The energy-intensive cleanroom poses challenges in sustainable practices, and modular cleanrooms provide feasible solutions.

Controlled environments inherently require copious amounts of energy resources to maintain the strict standards of operation. Temperature, humidity, airflow, filtration, and pressurization all factor into cleanroom operations, and all demand energy – sometimes 24/7. In looking at ways to make cleanroom practices more sustainable, modular cleanrooms are becoming a popular choice.

There are three major ways in which modular cleanrooms are eco-friendly options:

  1. Materials and Waste. Modular cleanrooms tend to be lightweight. These systems require less material for construction and require less energy to transport. Most pieces of these cleanrooms are reusable, and often are made from recyclable material. Additionally, modular construction can offer better sealing of windows, doors, and other penetrations. This improves the efficiency of the HVAC system and overall energy consumption.
  1. Fit the Space to the Need. Modular cleanrooms allow future expansion to be a possibility without building unneeded space right away. Organizations that anticipate growth would need to build a larger facility than needed, merely guessing their future needs and increasing the likelihood of wasted space and resources. With modular cleanrooms, you build the space you need now and quickly expand when you need to. This also minimizes site disturbance during construction because modular cleanrooms are built in shorter times with fewer equipment and resources.
  1. Life-cycle Flexibility. The panel systems inherent to modular cleanrooms make the buildings incredibly flexible. You can reconfigure doors, windows, and size with minimal disruption compared to a traditional renovation. These structures can also be relocated with minimal expense or downtime.

For operations that don’t require a large, permanent facility, modular cleanrooms are a sustainable, convenient, and affordable option that minimizes much of the headaches associated with traditional cleanroom construction. Gerbig Engineering Company provides AireCell Cleanrooms in both hardwall and softwall options. We can provide standard size enclosures or custom designs. Talk to us about your needs: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com.

Sustainable Cleanroom Practices: Recycling

Can you use recycling as a method of sustainability in your cleanroom facility?

Like any other business, cleanrooms and other controlled environment facilities strive to become more eco-efficient. Operational waste is a large part of this picture, but for cleanroom facilities, it is a unique challenge. Any facility dealing with hazardous materials and other contaminates face difficulties in finding sustainable disposal options.

Major issues impeding cleanrooms from safely using traditional waste programs are the volume of items, materials used, and hazardous leachate. Safety garments and protective gloves compile a significant portion of cleanroom waste, and the synthetic polymers used in these items don’t degrade over time. Contaminates found on these items can seep into the groundwater in a landfill. Incineration can be a more sustainable option, but this releases significant quantities of greenhouses gases and pollutants.

Recycling is therefore a more appealing option, but this poses some challenges, too. Synthetic fiber garments with protective linings and other items made of multiple components are difficult and expensive to recycle. It doesn’t make financial sense to collect, sort, and process these materials through traditional recycling.

Fortunately, non-traditional recycling options have become more available in recent years. One such example is the large-scale recycling program RightCycle, started by Kimberly-Clark Professional. Cleanroom professionals store their used garments, boot covers, hairnets, nitrile gloves, and other related items in onsite collection boxes for recycling. The boxes are organized onto pallets and the sites coordinate pick-ups with TerraCycle.

Coordinating a non-traditional recycling program can help you divert thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds of garments and gloves from landfills. Companies like TerraCycle repurpose the materials for industrial pallets, recycled plastic lumber, and Adirondack chairs.

As you work to make your cleanroom more sustainable, don’t neglect the practices that keep it compliant. Cleanroom validation and certification are key components to a successful operation. When you need either, contact Gerbig Engineering Company. We’ve been working with cleanrooms for thirty years and have perfected our services for our customers. Call us at 888-628-0056 or email info@gerbig.com.

Cleanroom Managers: 5 Clear Ways to Speak to any Audience

It’s tough to address every listener’s learning style, but by keeping a few tips in mind, you can keep everyone’s attention during your presentation.

Whether you’re addressing other managers in a conference room or engineers in production, your audience is filled with a variety of listening styles. Depending on what the audience members have to gain, your message may be fully digested by a few and half-heard by most. Given the complexities of working in a cleanroom, it is critical that your communication is clear no matter the purpose. Here are five ways that you can ensure your audience receives information fully and clearly.

  1. Be vocally interesting. Even short presentations are painful to sit through when a speaker is monotonous. Without inflections in tone and volume, you can easily lull your audience to sleep. Note, too, that you don’t want to have to work too hard to be heard. Ensure you have the right sound equipment or room to meet the audio needs of your audience and your volume capabilities.
  1. Be physically easy to watch. If your presentation is a long one, it will be easier for your audience to pay attention to you if you move around a little and use appropriate gestures to emphasize your points. If you are giving a short presentation, you can stay put, but using hand gestures and vocal inflections will help give listeners enough variety to stay focused.
  1. Use visual aids that demonstrate your points. This goes beyond PowerPoint slides or handouts. Any way that you can visually demonstrate what you’re explaining will give a more concrete frame of reference to the listeners. Providing data for them to follow along with us great, but you can also use videos or actual demonstrations. If appropriate, you can incorporate some role-playing. Get creative with how you can demonstrate the information.
  1. Focus on real-life information they care about. Senior-level managers are going to care more about income trends, and the sales team will care more about customer feedback. Identify the real issues your audience relates to, and focus on how your information adds value to those solutions.
  1. Make the most important points memorable. There are certain points you’ll want your audience to walk away with, so make those the easiest to remember. Relate the points to past experiences. Use infographics or other attractive visual pieces to highlight important information. After the presentation, hang signs or banners with goals or taglines as a reminder of what you’re after.

Getting through to a varied group of listeners is a challenge, but by knowing what your audience cares about, and by keeping the delivery as interesting as possible, you can deliver a successful presentation in any environment.

Gerbig Engineering Company provides expert services in cleanroom validation, certification, and construction. To find out how we can help you be successful, call 888-628-0056 or email info@gerbig.com.

Some Cleanroom Considerations for Combined Heat and Power

What are benefits and points to consider when looking at installing combined heat and power at your cleanroom facility?

Controlled environments are notorious for using high amounts of energy and water every year. Air purity, humidity control, and temperature control are all part of the strict parameters that demand such a high consumption of resources. A standard separate heat and power system is only about 45% efficient. This leads a lot of cleanroom facility owners to consider Combined Heat and Power (CHP) amongst other technologies for clean energy.

Reasons for adopting CHP are numerous. Some of the most significant benefits include:

  • Avoiding power outages and production downtime
  • Overall better reliability
  • A reduction in energy costs
  • Predictable future operating costs
  • Extended lifecycle of capital equipment
  • Almost zero water resources are used in the generation of electricity
  • Greenhouse gases and other air pollutants are reduced by 40% or more
  • Grid congestion is reduced
  • The reliability of the electric distribution system is improved

There are, of course, other clean energy technologies to consider, like wind and natural gas. When you’re considering a CHP installation, you have to go beyond the engineering and operational data pints to analyze:

  • Spark spread performance – you’re analyzing the value of the energy you get from the system versus energy input. The ideal ratio is 4 or 5 to 1.
  • How to balance meeting electrical and facility heating/cooling loads.
  • What is means to have an affordable and reliable fuel source.
  • Cost of maintenance – you should allot a percentage of cost per each kW hour generated in a separate account. Use this to pay for routine maintenance.
  • Rebates and/or incentives – Find the programs available to you that will help make the change more affordable.

You can read a more thorough explanation of various benefits here.

Reduction in fuel and energy usage is just one of the many ongoing considerations for cleanroom management. Routine compliance checks are a part of every facility owner’s world. When it’s time for cleanroom certification or validation, contact the experts at Gerbig Engineering Company. We offer reliable and thorough service: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com.

Compressed Air Lines in Cleanrooms Need Routine Testing

Compressed air is used in various applications in cleanrooms for a number of manufacturers. The applications can include injection molding, operation of conveyor belts, and the aseptic cleaning process.

Compressed air can be used because of the controlled environment a component is manufactured within, but what facility managers don’t always realize is that the compressed air system itself can harbor microorganisms. This can compromise sterility or other attributes of the products. Therefore, it’s important to implement a standard procedure for routine testing of the lines.

The air lines endure contraction, oxidation, sedimentation, and condensation when stagnant for a period of time, just like other dynamic systems. This makes it important to conduct testing more frequently during:

  • Seasonal changes
  • Replacement of parts (e.g. hardware, filters/dryers
  • An increase or reduction in production schedules
  • Inactivity of the system
  • Equipment modifications and changes

The simplest way to test the lines is to impact air onto a growth media. Equipment like a Slit Sampler forces Partial Flow of compressed air over a Petri plate. Whatever organisms are present become impinged onto the agar, which is incubated. The Slit Sampler method meets ISO 8573 standards.

Other microbial detection systems that may or may not meet the standards to which you’re held include these methods of capture:

  • Impaction
  • Centrifugal impaction
  • Multi-stage impaction

Whatever method works best for you will help ensure that your product is protected from environmental contaminants. Don’t neglect to test this potential threat to your product’s sterility.

Cleanroom certification and validation are also vital parts of maintaining compliance. It’s important to use a trusted company with enough experience to understand the process and the current standards. Gerbig Engineering Company has been testing cleanrooms for thirty years. We understand your needs, and we’re equipped to provide thorough, efficient service. Contact us at 888-628-0056 or info@gerbig.com.

Why More Cleanroom Managers are Outsourcing Cleaning

Who cleans your cleanroom? If you’re in the majority, your cleanroom workers are also taking on detailed cleaning responsibilities. Controlled Environments recently published the latest “Cleanroom Trends and Salary Survey,” and the cleaning trends have changed since last year. While the trend to use cleanroom workers as the primary cleaning staff rose slightly, from 42% to 46.3%, the other two categories saw significant change. People using an in-house cleaning staff dropped from 33% to 20.7%. Responders who say they outsource cleaning rose from 24% to 32.9%.

What’s causing fewer people to employ an in-house cleaning staff and more people to hire an outside cleaning company?

The most obvious reason a cleanroom facility wouldn’t hire an outside cleaning company is the expense. So if outsourcing is becoming more popular, the value of this service is probably becoming more evident. Let’s look at some of the costs a professional cleaning company helps cleanroom managers avoid.

  • Equipment and cleaning products. Any cleanroom facility needs cleaning tools regardless of who cleans it, but routine cleaning and less-frequent major cleaning jobs require more specific instruments that can be quite an investment. They also pose additional maintenance, disposal, and replacement costs.
  • Training and compliance. Cleanroom cleaning is so specific that there are protocols right down to the direction in which you can wipe a surface. Training for this job is extremely detailed, and it’s paramount that staff follows SOPs exactly or the room may not remain compliant. This, of course, would lead to even bigger problems.
  • Labor. The bigger cleaning jobs require extra staff, and arranging additional, qualified labor can be a drain on resources. Also, back-up cleaners are necessary to fill in when a primary staff member is ill or unavailable.
  • Quality of work. A cleanroom employee’s strengths and passions will lie in the actual work he or she performs in the cleanroom, not the cleaning tasks. Doubling up on duties can potentially hurt the quality of work performed during a shift and the cleaning itself.

Realistically, some cleaning jobs are going to be best handled in-house while others will make better sense to outsource. Anyone considering a change in how cleaning is handled should analyze the specific cleaning needs against the workflow to determine when and where a designated cleaning staff would most benefit the company.

When it’s time for the important cleanroom certification and/or validation, contact Gerbig Engineering Company. Cleanrooms have been our specialty for thirty years: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com.

Benefits of High Containment Glove Boxes for Pharmaceuticals

If you’re using or considering a standard Class III Bio Safety Cabinet, you may find it more beneficial to use a High Containment Glove box.

The pharmaceutical industry deals with a lot of different chemicals and compounds. Personnel protection is of great concern for Class III biological applications. That’s why the Class III Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) are designed with the highest containment capabilities – keeping people, products, and the environment safe.  Typical glove boxes are Class II cabinets, and not appropriate for this industry. However, High Containment Glove boxes (HCGs) are akin to Class III BSCs, but with added benefits.

Used in the pharm industry for years, HCGs are totally enclosed, HEPA filtered boxes with glove ports. They have been known to provide better environmental attributes than standard BSCs. Here are a few of the benefits by comparison:

  • Nothing in the glove box is re-contaminated. There is a once-through airflow requirement, so air doesn’t circulate.
  • The relative humidity is controlled. A nitrogen or argon purged environment provides less than 1% humidity at atmosphere or a slight negative pressure.
  • Bacterium is better controlled. The purged environment creates less then 2-3% oxygen, which critical to controlling some bacterium.
  • These glove boxes have a cross flow rather than a downward/upward flow like BSC cabinets. This creates less turbulence, making finite weighing activities possible.
  • The surfaces of these glove boxes have better cleaning attributes because of passivation of the main chamber.
  • Decontamination can be accomplished with UV lighting.

Overall, the robust design of the HCG offers better control than BSCs for any bio hazardous application, and they typically cost less. They are a safe and efficient alternative to consider.

Gerbig Engineering Company provides cleanroom validation and certification services as well as modular cleanroom construction. Our founder has been designing, constructing, and certifying cleanrooms since 1967. We offer quality service you can depend on. Let us know what you need for your cleanroom: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com

Options for Airflow Monitoring in Pharmaceutical Cleanrooms

How can pharmaceutical cleanrooms ensure compliance between certification visits if they don’t have centralized airflow monitoring?

Some existing pharmaceutical cleanrooms were designed without centralized monitoring systems. For these facility managers, certification is their primary means of ensuring compliance. It would be ideal, however, to know when intervention may be necessary during daily operations. The big question is: how do you accomplish this without adding considerable cost or disrupting the facility?

In the absence of airflow monitoring, what makes the most sense is to monitor the differential pressure maintained between the controlled environments and surrounding space. When changes occur in differential pressure, it often means that there are filter blockages or FFU failures. This is enough information to investigate the source of a problem.

The simplest way to accomplish this is with stand-alone censors. You can mount them inside the cleanroom so that staff can manually check the values. They would have to determine if the changes are significant and keep a through record of the data.

A more sophisticated process uses wireless censors that transmit data to a central computer where it is analyzed and recorded. These kits can come with various sorts of alarms and notifications to alert you when changes need your attention.

If you’re constructing a new facility, your options become more intricate. Network-capable FFU units supply centralized monitoring and airflow control, and they can be programmed to adjust and optimize air exchange based on the data it receives. Facility managers have a lot of options with this kind of technology; prices fluctuate with the capabilities, of course.

Real-time monitoring will supplement compliance between certifier visits. Those with existing facilities do have non-invasive, cost-efficient options that work well. If it’s time for cleanroom certification, contact Gerbig Engineering Company. Our experts have thirty years of experience. We also do validation and construction: 888-628-0056; info@gerbig.com

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