Balazs Air Liquide enters real-time monitoring industry Internet portal to provide real-time analytical results online

By Chris Anderson

HOUSTON—BALAZS ANALYLITical Services, a division of Air Liquide America Corp., threw its hat into the real-time monitoring ring recently with the debut of FabNet service, an Internet portal that allows clients access to current and archived analytical data online.

“In time, as more and more of our clients become capable of receiving analytical results online, we think FabNet will be the central repository of test results and a vital tool to help them analyze the performance of their operations,” says Elias Xanthus, information technology director at Freemont, CA.-based Balazs.

Balazs joins a host of firms, including The Sycamore Group (Fort Washington, PA), that are now offering systems that continually monitor cleanroom, laboratory and manufacturing environments. [See “Environmental monitoring goes real time, CleanRooms, July 2002, p. 1].

Driving the real-time monitoring industry are the worldwide cleanroom standards, specifically International Organization for Standardization (ISO; Geneva) 14644-2, which provides specifications for testing and monitoring, says Michael A. Fitzpatrick, program director of microelectronics for Lockwood Greene Engineers (Spartanburg, SC) and a senior member of the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST; Rolling Meadows, IL).

“Periodic or continuous monitoring are the choices the standards provide,” Fitzpatrick says. “Previously, you had no way of knowing if the facility was performing as designed. You could just get a snap shot with periodic monitoring.”

It used to be, he explains, that a cleanroom would be certified and that would be that.

“But the room doesn't stay that way forever,” Fitzpatrick adds. “The room degrades. You have chemical spills and people bring in contamination. Continuous monitoring allows you to identify problems like a big hole in a filter that was accidentally made by a contractor.”

And more purveyors of real-time monitoring systems will come, he says.

Currently, Balazs provides e-mail and written reports of testing results to its clients. The company says that FabNet offers a secure method of viewing not just a single test, but all tests online and in multiple formats, such as by site, by analysis or by sample ID. The result, the company adds, is a more complete picture of conditions and operational characteristics in a facility over time.

“We see the trending of different parameters over time, comparing a number of different tests, as a real benefit to our clients to help them manage their operations,” says Xanthus.

While FabNet is now available only to customers in North America, Air Liquide says it anticipates making the service available to overseas customers in early 2003.


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