The design of effective cleanroom solutions requires a holistic approach. The demand for cleanrooms continues to evolve, with growing applications for controlled environments in nearly every industry. Whether manufacturing automotive windshields, paints and coatings, optical and electronic devices or pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals, control of the production environment is essential to achieving the highest quality products.
Not Just a White Box Anymore
Just a few years ago, cleanrooms were often seen as “white boxes” installed separately from the air handling and other systems required to ensure effective operation. Today, customers realize that optimum overall performance of cleanrooms, particularly when there are multiple cleanrooms in one facility, requires understanding of the interrelationships among different mechanical systems and between different cleanrooms, as well as the impact of changes in weather and other factors.
Many Factors to Consider
Cleanroom equipment and systems must be designed for the maximum possible temperature and humidity for its geographic location. It is essential to consider the quantity of fresh air needed and potential peak temperatures that can be reached. Future changes in the local climate must also be taken into consideration. The best approach is to envision the worst-case scenario and build in higher potential values so the system can adapt to the changing outside environment.
Achieving maximum energy efficiency is also critical. In addition, cleanroom designs should include redundant air-handling capabilities and be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the introduction of new processes. The best approach is to consider a cleanroom as an integrated ecosystem.
Benefiting from History in Critical Environments
Environmental Systems Corporation was founded in 1983 as a provider of commercial industrial heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions, with a strong specialty in electronic control systems and close tolerance temperature/humidity control. For cleanrooms, controlling the temperature and humidity can account for 30–40% of operating costs.
Today, ESC offers tailored humidity and temperature control equipment that ensure optimally efficient cleanroom operation, and we typically build unique and custom systems with our proprietary cleanroom components more quickly than our competitors can using standard production models. In addition, many of our employees have previously worked at pharmaceutical companies and have first-hand experience with the specific design needs for cleanrooms installed in drug manufacturing facilities.
A Collaborative Business Model
ESC customers benefit from our collaborative business model. We rely on our clients’ expertise in pharma manufacturing and combine that with our expertise in environmental control. We strive to understand what our clients are trying to achieve in the short term, the critical parameters that must be addressed and potential needs in the future. We then consider our systems and how they can be designed to provide cleanroom solutions with optimal performance, efficiency and flexibility.
Reducing Project Timelines with an Integrated Approach
At ESC, we do not just provide the cleanroom structure alone, but also all of the environmental controls (e.g., temperature, humidity, pressure) and related infrastructure and the integration and validation of the entire solution. This integrated project delivery approach often increases efficiency and reduces the overall timeline.
Our ability to assist at the design stage adds significant value for ESC customers, because it helps our clients select the right design and begin implementation much more quickly. By bringing together mechanical, architectural and electrical expertise with an understanding of the client’s unique needs, we help customers not only identify optimized solutions, but get them installed and validated in a minimal amount of time.
Integration today includes aspects of Industry 4.0, with extensive integration of digital information from every possible aspect of the operation. Smart air-handling modules monitor air pressure and activate redundant fan systems before the air in a cleanroom falls out of specification. Cleanrooms offered by ESC also have built-in lighting systems to inform operators of the status of the conditioned air (yellow light indicates that the room is approaching an operating limit, red means the room is outside the operating conditions). More monitoring in real-time is also enabling the reduction of the number of air exchanges, significantly reducing costs, particularly for facilities with multiple cleanrooms.
ESC is excited to work with clients that are looking to adopt new technologies that provide greater energy and cost efficiencies while still guaranteeing high performance.