Basics review helpful to both new, experienced users
By Sheila Galatowitsch
San Diego — After 28 years of experience ensuring that his company`s cleanrooms have the appropriate cleanroom manufacturing materials, Dwight Youngberg, senior engineer at AlliedSignal Inc.`s Federal Manufacturing and Technologies division (Kansas City, MO), took a course in cleanroom fundamentals and determined that AlliedSignal is basically doing things right.
But he also made several discoveries in his review of the fundamentals. Youngberg says he learned that gowning areas should be one class cleaner than the cleanroom, and that air showers, though controversial, might improve contamination control in AlliedSignal`s several Class 100 cleanrooms, where the company manufactures non-nuclear electrical and mechanical components for the Department of Energy`s weapons programs.
New user John Holmblad, manufacturing engineer on the medical products team at Colder Products Company (St. Paul, MN), took the same course because he “wanted to make sure we had the protocol and operating procedures down to where they should be for our current environment, so that we know where to take it to go to the next level.”
Colder manufactures quick disconnect couplings for fluid handling lines for industrial, medical and food processing applications. The company is considering targeting the semiconductor industry, which would necessitate an upgrade of its current controlled manufacturing environment.
While the company ponders an upgrade, Colder is ready to take action on what he learned in the fundamentals course. He`s planning to increase employee training, implement a stricter cleaning regiment, and re-evaluate the layout, workflow and operator activities within the controlled environment.
Both Youngberg and Holmblad attended “Introduction to Clean Manufacturing Technology,” a full-day tutorial at the CleanRooms West `98 conference and exhibition (a PennWell event) held in San Diego Oct. 5-7. PennWell is also the parent company of CleanRooms magazine. William Soules of Soules Consulting (Rochester, NY), who has taught the tutorial for several years, says that although most of the tutorial attendees are newcomers, experienced users can benefit by an occasional review of the basics.
“It`s beneficial to go back and look at the basics because many times we get involved in the here-and-now with problems, and we forget the fundamentals,” Soules says. It also gives users a benchmark with which to compare their operations.
Moreover, the fundamentals frequently change as the industry progresses. For example, cleaning techniques have changed as more information is learned about certain practices and techniques that provide cleaner environments.
Among the cleanroom workers, supervisors, process engineers and facility engineers taking the tutorial are many people highly skilled in their industry, but engaged in their first cleanroom project. They are often overwhelmed to learn there`s more to contamination control than just building a cleanroom, Soules says. His tutorial focuses on the facility, process and personnel, covering everything from air filtration to equipment, materials and housekeeping.
Protocol is the hardest part of keeping a cleanroom maintained, he says. “Many companies are lax in personnel protocol under the assumption that a good cleanroom will overcome a poor protocol. But I have observed a lot of contamination being brought into cleanrooms because of poor protocol.”
A more rigorous protocol is one of Holmblad`s goals as Colder Products seeks to improve consistency, and Youngberg got new information on gowning protocol that will be implemented into AlliedSignal`s procedures. CR