ISO 14644 & 14698: The common language of success

No one likes to be told what to do. We balked when our parents corrected us, and as adults, we certainly don't appreciate direct orders that change or alter our day-to-day business procedures—especially when we believe they've been working well for years.

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While the majority of cleanroom users have embraced the idea of global standards, a few continue to brush it off, suggesting that it means added expense; that the effort and time expended to fully understand, interpret and implement the sections germane to their processes may not be worth it. I've heard this argument from a couple of readers recently, and at the time, their argument made some sense considering their small size and super-specific application of clean space.

But the more I considered the ISO issue the more I realized that companies that continue to deflect the standards concept—no matter the size of the organization—may not fully understand the true worth of ISO 14644 and 14698 in our increasingly global economy. There is no policing force established to ride herd on these standards, they are simply good business practices. Or you can think of the ISO standards as a second language; one learned to supplement the language of your actual business procedures—your “native tongue.”

Learning German to do business with your German partners will take time, a tremendous amount of effort and determination; and a bit of expense. But what's the payoff? Chances are your German partners or customers already speak English; but you've taken in a huge step in closing the communication gap. The partner takes note of the effort, you've shown your commitment and now there's less of a chance for any miscommunication across the board.

ISO Technical Committee 209 understands that there will be an extra effort involved, that you may have to re-think the way you go about certain procedures. As Committee Chairman Dick Matthews tells Chris Anderson in this month's Special Report (page 17), “Some things won't apply to some of the industries.” Rather, think of the set of ISO standards as a “menu” from which you can pick and choose the sections that apply to your operation.

If you fall into the category of “detractor” (and I don't believe there are many of you), this month's Special Report is required reading. If you're already on board, refresh your memory by re-reading Matthews' columns from last year. We've neatly packaged a round-up of these columns in “ISO Standards in ISO global cleanroom standards primer” that can be found on Use them for training, use them for better business and better overall understanding of the environments you maintain.

Michael Levans
Chief Editor


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