As reported in this month`s CleanRooms, the IES is well along in its program to develop a comprehensive package of international standards (ISO/TC209) for cleanroom construction and maintenance. Having first proposed the need for such standards, the IES has reason to be proud of its selection as Secretariat for the project by ANSI and the International Standards Organization (ISO). With such prestige, however, comes a great deal of work and an even greater amount of responsibility.
For example, as clean environments and contamination control technologies expand into more and more user industries, any new standards must be applicable and easily usable by engineers and technicians with diverse needs and experience levels. Yet, the IES`s Federal standard 209E has come under criticism in some circles for being too focused on the semiconductor industry and for being too complex and esoteric. At the same time, however, as a principle user of con tamination control technology, clearly, the semiconductor industry`s leading edge contamination-control requirements must be addressed and made to correlate with the work of other standards organizations such as SEMI, EIA, etc. But what about the unique aspects of other industries and their standards organizations?
According to IES ISO/TC209 Chairman Richard Matthews, the international standards committee determined up-front that its standards should be generic rather than user-specific. “It shouldn`t matter what you do in the room. End-user specific needs should be addressed by particular industries. Our job is to start them off with criteria for classes of air cleanliness and certain parameters for design and construction.”
Matthews acknowledges that the Federal Standard 209E document is “more complex than earlier versions and may not be as user friendly as it could be,” but he doesn`t believe it is a major issue. Nevertheless, the subject did lead to a determination that ISO standards should be more user friendly. “Our decision was partly due to these concerns, but also because we`ll be melding together other peoples` national standards. It`s part of the art of compromise.”
At any rate, the point of this editorial is to acknowledge and encourage the work of the IES ISO committee. It is also to point out to all contamination-control professionals, that now would be a perfect time to voice your concerns, questions and desires relative to cleanroom standards. The development of a set of international standards specific to the science of contamination control sends a clear message and sets a major precedent in terms of identifying this industry as a unique and broad-based entity. The quality and scope of the standards ultimately adopted will likewise play a major role in determining its future direction and growth.