View from Frankfurt

View from Frankfurt

George D. Miller

Editorial Director

There`s nothing quite like getting out of the office from time to time to do a reality check and find out what the real world thinks. Sometimes you find out you`re dead wrong about things, but it`s also good even if what you find out merely reinforces themes you believed to be correct to begin with.

And so it was in late June at the first CleanRooms Europe show, held in Frankfurt, Germany. In my brief tenure at CleanRooms, I`ve heard a few variations on the “new markets” theme. My experience has been that in these discussions about which markets might be the next big adopters of contamination control technology, people tend to get heated. They are passionate about what they believe and don`t believe, but they tend to be even more so when professional reputations are on the line. So I`ve been doing a lot of listening in these discussions, and I`d come to the conclusion that something was about to happen concerning new markets; I just wasn`t sure what. I`d been looking for one- and two-word answers like “food” or “paint spray.”

Then Johann Dorner, head of the cleanroom manufacturing department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing and Automation, based in Stuttgart, shed some light on this topic at a press conference. The Fraunhofer Institute and PE Schall GmbH were partners with PennWell, the parent company of CleanRooms and CleanRooms International magazines, in developing the CleanRooms Europe conference and exhibition, which included 139 companies from 13 countries. Dorner said that the need for clean environments exists in an “increasing number” of industrial fields, and the reason is not simply increasing demands from users for better quality products, but also “the need for businesses to maintain or strengthen their competitiveness through manufacturing innovative products.” He then rattled off about a dozen areas that are demonstrating some need for contamination control technology (among them, printed-circuit boards, thin-film technology [see news brief, page 45], medical technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering and food [yes!]), saying this was only 5 percent of a much longer list. That longer list includes some less obvious but equally relevant items: diesel injection pumps, anti-lock braking systems, optical lens coatings, fiber optics, foils and paints [yes!]. And on and on. So the big boom for contamination control is likely to come not from an individual market segment or two that suddenly adopts the technology in a big way, but rather from many industries simultaneously adopting it in gradual fashion.

In fact, this same sentiment was played out in a page 1 story in the July 1998 edition of CleanRooms, “Market drives need to make cleanrooms `cleaner,” which offered some evidence that making cleanrooms cleaner than they need to be according to industry practice may well lead to competitive advantage.

Any way you look at it, contamination control technology is broadening its base of applications. Along with that comes a constant need for training and education. And the demand rises for experienced contamination control professionals, such as you.

In the “dead wrong” category was my expectation that the majority of the 6,000-plus exhibition visitors in Frankfurt would be mainly from the pharmaceutical sector, given the location of the event. In fact, less than half the exhibitors I asked cited pharmaceutical as the main interest of visitors. Their answers were all over the map. Oh, well.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.