Flexible design principles do more for less

Flexible design principles do more for less

Tammy Wright

PHILADELPHIA — Reported from CleanRooms East `99. Adding flexibility into a cleanroom design can be as simple as dividing and conquering, modularizing the layout, and spacing utilities at regular intervals inside the facility.

The key, explains Mark Miller, P.E., of A.M. Kinney (Cincinnati), is to incorporate these three strategies early into the process.

“They allow users to do more with less,” says Miller, who presented a seminar on the topic at CleanRooms East `99 in Philadelphia. CleanRooms East is sponsored by PennWell, the parent company of this newspaper.

The divide and conquer principle involves using separate systems to perform separate functions. Miller recommends separating make-up and conditioning air handling units; de-coupling air circulation from air conditioning; and utilizing demountable partition walls.

For example, by using separate make-up air handlers cleanroom users can vary pressurization and give themselves the option of adding a positive or negative pressure cleanroom at a later date.

According to Miller`s principle, modular components are easy to reconfigure and relocate. They offer cleanroom users expansion opportunities and containment solutions for sensitive or critical operations. Some features to consider for optimum flexibility are ceiling and floor plenums and the use of clean benches.

Miller cautions against the temptation to cluster utilities in only equipment locations. “They should be spaced at regular intervals across the facility,” he says. “That way you can put anything anywhere anytime you want — it`s a real boon to flexibility.”

The bottom line, Miller claims, is that designing flexibility into a cleanroom is a pre-meditated activity that provides the user with the expandability, convertability and versatility to respond to market needs without impacting production.

Seminar attendee Vincent De Bias of American Home Products, a pharmaceutical/biotech R&D concern in Pearl River, NY, says Miller`s principles make good sense for targeted industries. “They`re more geared toward fabs, instead of pharmaceutical facilities,” he believes.

Another attendee, Craig Wirtz, a mechanical engineer at Jacobs Engineering (Cinncinati), agrees, noting that while these principles are practical, regulatory concerns can`t be overlooked in the design/build process.


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