Challenge your suppliers

Michael Levans
Chief Editor

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Waiting for the next great breakthrough in cleanroom technology equipment is a little like watching grass grow. For all intents and purposes, we have a pretty well-established stable of products and equipment to choose from at this stage in the game, no matter what industry you're applying your contamination control measures. Any way you slice it, this is a well-served market.

What new technological advancements we do see tend to come in the form of tweaks to existing top performers; which is always good news and often fills our new products section with announcements of enhancements or new lines featuring fresh bells and whistles. This could only mean one thing: Suppliers are listening and reacting to the savvy end user—that five percent who know what will make life easier and are not afraid to ask for it.

I don't think anyone will argue that this vital communications link is quite strong between these two parties in the cleanrooms world. But it's too bad that it's only this five percent that ultimately drives product development.

Let's get the other 95 percent involved in this critical process. Let's fuel the healthy competition that exists among the suppliers in our industry. Stretch your mind for a moment and prepare to pepper your trusty suppliers with challenges as you make your way around CleanRooms West in October. Ask yourself and your staff if there are any new technologies, any “killer technologies,” missing from your existing equipment/product pool. Consider every piece of equipment you use, every consumable you employ, every piece of technology that goes into your clean environment. What would fill the void?

How about a particle counter that not only gives you a particle count, but can also give you critical information on the composition and origin of the particles? Watch these pages next month.

You might be surprised what you'll learn about your operation once you open this up for discussion. Of course, it may not necessarily be about the equipment or the products at all, but how the equipment and products are being used. Your answer may be simple, and you just might find that a little more protocol training will fill any void that exists. Let me know what you find.

One last quick note: If you are one of those “savvy end users” I single out in this column, you're probably wondering what's new on the Illinois Tool Works (ITW) front. As you've been reading on and in these pages, ITW appears to be making a fairly aggressive move into the cleanrooms marketplace. In June you read about ITW's acquisition of Texwipe. This month, you're seeing that it has acquired adhesive coating manufacturer ALMA. According to Dan Miller, the man who will be heading up the charge into the market as president of ITW's contamination control group, ITW is looking for “market leaders” as the company continues to move forward into the cleanrooms business. This won't be the last month ITW leads our news.


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