Foundations of a Cleanroom Contamination Control Strategy

Foundations of a Cleanroom Contamination Control Strategy

Your cleanroom contamination control strategy is the frontline between you and contaminated products, which can lead to yield loss, slowed production, and possible reputation damage. So when was the last time you really dove into your cleanroom contamination strategy?

We highly recommend reviewing your strategy yearly to make sure you are still meeting industry best standards and your employees are making the most of the strategy. And there are a few foundations you can always reexamine to ensure you’re maximizing your strategy.

Gowning Protocols

Your cleanroom contamination strategy starts with the number one resource entering and exiting your cleanroom: your personnel.

Humans shed an exorbitant amount of skin cells. In fact, we account for between 75% and 80% of particles released in cleanrooms. From our hair to our skin to other microorganisms, we’re constantly shedding. We shed around 40,000 skin cells alone every minute.

When we are stationary, we can generate approximately 100,000 particles, 0.3 microns or larger, just through our skin, hair, and clothing. But what happens when we move? That number jumps to over 5,000,000 particles.

So even just a square inch of skin being exposed on someone’s wrist due to improper gowning could lead to an excessive amount of particles being released in a cleanroom.

Minimize Tools And Equipment In the Cleanroom

We have no choice, most of the time, but to let humans enter and exit the cleanroom. What about all the other equipment, though? 

Wherever possible, equipment and tools should be dedicated for cleanroom use only. If the items need to leave and re-enter, then they should be made from material that can be easily cleaned and sanitized. 

While it might cost more to have two pieces of equipment, it could save you time and effort to have one for the cleanroom and one for outside the cleanroom. Make sure to evaluate your sanitization process for equipment that must be brought into the cleanroom.

Cleanroom Safe Equipment

Speaking of your process for cleaning equipment used in the cleanroom, you can improve your cleanroom contamination control strategy by making sure all equipment is safe for use in the room. This means the equipment should be made out of materials that are non-porous and easily sanitized.

While this might feel like a no-brainer for most large pieces of equipment in a cleanroom, we can also apply this to the smallest details. For example, is the paper you’re using cleanroom friendly? What about the cords or accessories on necessary tools? This is one reason we recommend using cordless tools whenever possible. This includes having wireless connectivity options as well as rechargeable batteries. 

Regular Maintenance Schedule

One way to improve your cleanroom contamination control strategy is to schedule regular maintenance on all equipment. The schedule will look different from tool to tool, but batching your maintenance will save you time and exposure in the cleanroom. For pieces of equipment that keep your cleanroom clean, such as your filters and particle counter, this maintenance can often go overlooked but the consequences are catastrophic.

For instance, in 2018, a NASA cleanroom that was being used to store samples from space became contaminated with terrestrial fungi. What was behind the contamination? An old filter that hadn’t been changed in nearly 40 years.

Regular Personnel Training

Did you know that people often forget 50% of what they learned in a seminar an hour after they learned it? And after a week, they can have forgotten up to 90% of what they learned. This is why regular training is critical. Even if the participants feel like they are hearing the same thing over and over, keeping attitudes positive and the training engaging will help you to re-capture their attention and reinforce important standards, such as gowning and sanitization protocols. 

Real-Time Monitoring Particle Counter

How will you know if your cleanroom contamination control strategy is working? Your cleanroom will be clean – and your particle counter will let you know. This is why your particle counter is the cornerstone of a solid contamination control strategy. More than that, you need a particle counter that offers real-time monitoring.

Real-time monitoring is the sliced bread of the cleanroom contamination control world. It revolutionized the way we device cleanroom contamination strategies, because it allows us to know if something is not functioning at that moment. If you’re able to immediately identify contamination, you’ll be able to stop the use of the cleanroom, identify the source, deep clean, and resume with minimal yield (and time) loss.

Which Particle Counter Is Right For You?

Your particle counter is one of your most powerful and important tools in your cleanroom contamination control strategy. It’s the tool that will tell you when and where your cleanroom is contaminated.

So when you choose a particle counter, make sure you’re working with the world’s clean air experts. You’ll want to work with people who set the industry standard for clean air and offer continuing support.

Here at Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, we’re dedicated to helping you take your environmental monitoring to the next level. Which is why we created the Apex Z.

This next generation particle counter is user friendly with endless connectivity options. Plus, it’s exceedingly accurate and has the shortest recharge time and longest battery life on the market.

If you give us the opportunity, we will revolutionize your cleanroom with the Apex Z. Is it right for you? Find out today.

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