14644: Get it and know it

14644: Get it and know it

Again the activity surrounding the preparation of international cleanrooms standard ISO 14644 seems to be generating both interest and a lack thereof.

George D. Miller

Editorial Director

At the recent CleanRooms East `99 conference and trade show, sponsored by PennWell, the parent organization of this newspaper, a panel session entitled, “ISO Cleanroom Standards: How Do They Affect Your Business?” was hands-down the major draw of the conference. More than 100 people squeezed into a room to hear the ISO/TC209 chairman and his associates describe how close the standards are to finalization and what impact they will have on existing cleanroom operations.

The presenters went into some detail, yet at their conclusion, few attendees asked questions. The questions that were asked fell into two categories: those of the well-informed user (and perhaps standards-watcher) seeking technical detail not provided in the presentations or easily found elsewhere, and those of the new-to-the-technology users who may have been hearing this information for the first time. The fact that the polar ends of the user community were represented among the questioners but not the vast body from the middle seems odd.

Why would this be so? ISO/TC209 chairman Richard A. Matthews, president of Filtration Technology Inc. (Greensboro, NC) and moderator of the panel at the conference, speculates that perhaps the limited response is due to the fact that a globally adopted standardized way of measuring the cleanliness of air in a manufacturing environment really won`t change much. It will have some impact in the United States, where the entrenched IEST standard, Fed-Std-209E, is still in force. But not much is likely to happen until ISO 14644 is formally finalized as a standard and the IEST decides what will happen to Fed-Std-209E. Even then, similarities between the IEST and ISO criteria will likely minimize the impact. The ISO standard represents a change in how air quality is measured, not in the quality of the air itself.

Outside North America, the story might be different. Many countries` standards will be automatically superseded when the ISO documents are finalized. The impact may be great or small, depending on how different the local procedures are from those of the ISO.

The bottom line is this: You need to know what`s in the ISO 14644 standards. You can obtain copies from the ISO and the IEST. It`s becoming late in the game to influence the standards, so get them, read them, and know what they contain.


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