Happy Holidays from Hutchins & Hutchins
- June 30 2021
Not only would we like to make you aware of our upcoming closure, but we’d like to ensure you have advance notice for all our 2022 / 2023 Holiday Office Closures.
Any orders and/or inquires placed during these times will be handled upon our return. Our regular office hours are 8AM - 5PM EST.
MEMORIAL DAY: CLOSED MON. 05/30 | We will be back in office Tues., May 31th.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: CLOSED MON. 07/04 | We will be back in office Tues., July 5th.
LABOR DAY: CLOSED MON. 09/05 | We will be back in office Tues., September 6th.
THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY: CLOSED THURS. 11/24 & FRI. 11/25 | We will be back in office Mon., November 28th.
CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY: CLOSED FRI. 12/23 & MON. 12/26 | We will be back in office Tues., December 27th.
NEW YEAR'S DAY: CLOSED MON. 01/02 | We will be back in office Tues., January 3rd.
From our customers to our manufacturing partners, we are grateful to all who help get supplies to those who need them. We thank each and everyone of you for your ongoing support, business, and loyalty.
Maintaining Our ISO 9001:2015 Certified Management System
- January 10 2021
The ISO 9000 family addresses various aspects of quality management and contains some of ISO’s best known standards. The standards provide guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved.
Facts About Certification
Through tough times and smooth sailing, we did it again.. Hutchins & Hutchins passed our ISO certification on 01/12/22 with zero defects! ISO 9001 Certificate - US4229
Hutchins & Hutchins rings in 2021 with another successful ISO re-certification audit. Congratulations to the Hutchins Team on this achievement!
On January 8, 2020 Donna Workman met with Lead Auditor Ingrid Sotelo. After several hours of reviewing manuals, procedures and interviewing staff the recertification audit concluded with zero non-conformances.
On January 15, 2019 Tim Gollner, ISO Lead Auditor, was on site at Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. conducting the annual ISO 9001:2015 re-certification. Working with Donna Workman the audit consisted of verifying procedures, calibration records and other forms of documentation to ensure compliance with ISO 9001:2015 standards. Tim also spent time interviewing staff members for their role in the quality process. Hutchins completed the audit with a perfect score of zero non-conformance’s.
After months of effort and preparation on procedures, forms and other data, Hutchins Business Manager, Donna Workman, met with Lead Auditor John Waters from IMSM, an outside certifying organization. After hours of reviewing all documents Mr. Water met with President, Becky Wiseman and Donna to reveal his recommendation for Hutchins & Hutchins’s ISO certification.
The LifeNet Health Foundation - Share the Love 5K/1Mile
- April 21 2021
A big Thank You to the LifeNet Health Foundation for the opportunity to support such an amazing cause - promoting the vital need for donation, and research development efforts surrounding transplantation. #SharetheLove2021
LifeNet Health is a non-profit global leader in regenerative medicine and the world's largest provider of allograft bio-implants and organs for transplantation. Our mission is simple: Saving Lives. Restoring Health. Giving Hope. Since 1982, LifeNet Health has helped to save lives, restore health and give hope to thousands of patients each year. The LifeNet Health Foundation
Air Purification Systems - Technology to Filter Contaminants & Viruses Including COVID-19
- February 3 2021
Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. has partnered with industry leading manufacturers to offer air purification systems designed to filter and eliminate contaminants & viruses, including COVID-19, from room air utilizing HEPA, ULPA, DFS, UV, and other related technologies. Systems can also be utilized to evacuate room air for a negative pressure environment. Applications include: Education, Healthcare, Cleanroom, Corporate, and Manufacturing. Portable and HVAC fixed units are avaliable for spaces from 100 to 2000+ sq. ft.
For additional information including Current Pricing, Availability & Product Information:
Steve Cason, Sales Operation Manager
Direct: (540) 221-6039 | Email: email@example.com
Online: RFQ & Samples Request Form
Mitigate COVID-19 risks today and help reduce the risk of airborne viruses in years to come. HEPA air filtration combined with UV-C light has been proven to destroy viruses, mold and bacteria. All units are available with or without UV-C light.
HEPA air filtration combined with UV-C light has been proven to destroy viruses, mold and bacteria. All units are available with or without UV-C light.
Additional CFM Models and Sizes Avaliable!
COVID-19 Coronavirus - Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
- January 1 2021
The following actions help prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as other coronaviruses and influenza:
- Wear a face mask
- Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others
- Avoid large gatherings,
- Socialize outdoors
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Minimize touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces regularly
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Preventing The Spread of Coronavirus
In addition to the above preventive measures, consider purchasing efficient equipment / supplies to reduce and eliminate COVID-19. Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. has partnered with industry leading manufacturers that offer products and technologies taliored to your facility preventive application needs. Applications for use include: Education, Healthcare, Cleanroom, Corporate, Manufacturing and more.
- Air Purification Systems
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Hand Sanitizers
- Surface Disinfectants & Wipes
- Face Masks
- Nitrile Gloves
The CDC provides Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for Employers:
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
Service Recognition Awards!
- October 8 2020
Celebrating Our Employee Milestones: 2019 - 2021 Service Recognition Awards!
We know your job can be arduous at times, but no one could do a better job than you. We thank you for sticking with us. We take the time to acknowledge the efforts of our outstanding employees. We like to let our staff know that we care about them by creating an environment where individuals feel appreciated for their contributions and their accomplishments.
Thank you for your outstanding service and dedication!
Lisa Armetta - Our Procurement Manager is celebrating her 10 Years of Service at Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. President, Jay Stotlar is presenting her plaque.
Theresa Harris - One of our Cleanroom Staff Members is celebrating her 5 Years of Service. President, Jay Stotlar is presenting her plaque!
Claudia Wolfe - One of our Cleanroom Staff Members is celebrating her 15 Years of Service. President, Jay Stotlar is presenting her plaque!
Donna Workman - Our Business & Quality Manager is celebrating her 10 Years of Service. President, Jay Stotlar is presenting her plaque... with social distance of course!
Steve Cason - Our Sales Operation Manager is celebrating his 10 Years of Service. COO, Jay Stotlar is presenting his plaque.
Paige Johnson - One of our Cleanroom Associates is celebrating her 15 Years of Service. President, Becky Hutchins is presenting her plaque.
Donna Davies - One of our Cleanroom Associates is celebrating her 5 Years of Service. President, Becky Wiseman is presenting her plaque.
Zac Wells - Our Government Contracts Rep. is celebrating his 5 Years of Service. President, Becky Wiseman is presenting his plaque.
Annual Ronald L. Hutchins, Sr. Memorial “Vision in Business” Scholarship
- August 4 2020
"Vision in Business" Scholarship Essay Winners!
High school seniors were was asked to write an essay describing "If you had just inherited a business, how would you manage it?" The scholarship proceeds must be used to attend at least a two year accredited educational institution and this onetime award goes towards the recipients first year of higher education in Business Management.
2020 10th Annual Winner - Jillian Hammond, Fort Defiance High School
She will be attending Virginia Tech, The College of Life and Agricultural Sciences.
2018 - Christian Turner, Stuarts Draft High School Senior
He will be attending James Madison University in the fall.
2017 - Savannah Hull, Wilson Memorial High School Senior
She will be attending James Madison University in the fall.
2016 - Kelsey Cash , Riverheads High School Senior
She will be attending Blue Ridge Community College in the fall.
2015 - Sierra McCray, Fort Defiance High School Senior
She will be attending James Madison University in the fall.
2014 - Madelin Bender, Waynesboro High School Senior
The College of William and Mary University in the fall.
2013 - Michelle Fultz, Buffalo Gap High School Senior & Brennan Lloyd, Waynesboro High School Senior
Michelle will be attending Virginia Tech University in the fall. Brennan will be attending Shenandoah University in the fall.
2012 - Salvatore "Saso" Morabito, Wilson Memorial High School Senior
He will be attending Bridgewater College in the fall.
2011 - Jordan Driskill, Waynesboro High School Senior
He will be attending University of Pennsylvania in the fall.
Read their Winning Essays
We’re Celebrating 35 Years of Business!!!
- November 19 2019
With our diverse and knowledgeable staff of 22 employees, Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. is celebrating 35 years of service as Your Cleanroom Supplier. We would like to Thank all our dedicated employees, vendors, business colleagues and customers who have contributed so much to the success of our business. We are grateful not only for our successful years in business, but also for the great relationships with everyone we work with. We stand by our service and are proud to be Your Cleanroom Supplier.
Back row: Matt Shirley, Zac Wells, Jay Stotlar, Steve Cason, Brian Bergey
3rd row: Lisa Armetta, Barbara Wiseman, Theresa Harris, Debbie Bane-Durrett, Jill Copper, Donna Workman, Sheryl Swisher
2nd row: Paige Johnson, Claudia Wolfe, Becky Wiseman, Donna Davies
Front row: Heather Chisamore, Lisa Simmons, Ricky Simmons, Eleanor Jeffers, Bonnie Campbell, Kristyn Henke
4th Year of On-Hand Fire Extinguisher Training
- October 17 2019
October is known for cooler temperatures, pumpkins, pumpkin spiced coffees and Fire Prevention! October is recognized as Fire Prevention Month! The goal is to raise awareness about fire safety and to help be prepared in the event of an emergency.
Hutchins staff members observed Fire Prevention Day with their on hands fire extinguisher training. Trainer Donald “Rilo” Michael conducted the training with a classroom session on the stages of a fire and types of fire extinguishers. Staff members completed the training with on hands use of a fire extinguisher on a controlled fire.
Trainer Rilo Michael explaining the value of fire extinguisher training
Rilo demonstrating proper handling of a fire extinguisher using the PASS method
Set up for the live fire. Staff member Ricky Simmons assisting
Staff member Steve Cason takes his turn putting out the fire
Staff members waiting their turn to put out the fire
L to R: Lisa Simmons, Ricky Simmons, Barbara Wiseman, Sheryl Swisher, Zac Wells
Staff members asking questions of their trainer
L to R: Eleanor Jeffers, Theresa Harris, Donna Davies, Paige Johnson, Rilo, Brian Bergey
The Perils of Using Internet Explorer as Your Default Browser
- September 27 2019
From time to time, I am asked by customers, “How do I ensure that all web traffic goes to Internet Explorer?” In fact, I was recently asked this question by someone trying to help a hospital. Now, I understand the scenario. In healthcare (as in many other industries), it’s often the case that you’re running with an extremely thin team. As a result, it can seem that using Internet Explorer be default for all situations is the “easy button” because, well, most of your sites were designed for Internet Explorer, so…just…always use it, ok? - Full Article
Related Article - Microsoft really doesn’t want you to use Internet Explorer anymore
Hutchins & Hutchins Receives GARCC Business Excellence Award
- March 21 2018
Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce
Business Excellence Awards
As the premier business organization for the area serving Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro, the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber represents 700 diverse businesses that work together to stimulate the economy for this outstanding community. The Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) membership organization with a mission focused on business advocacy, community development, education, transportation, tourism and agriculture.
The overall makeup of a community starts with people and their personal dreams to make an impact on the world around them. Through the Business Excellence Awards the Chamber is able to recognize the outstanding success of exemplary businesses and individual leaders who are indeed having an impact on their Community.
Annette Medlin, President and CEO of the Chamber stated:
“It was very positive reinforcement of all the great work our local businesses are doing when during the award nomination review our winners were referred to with the words ‘innovative, visionary, strategic, mentor, dedicated, charitable, humility’. This pattern just emphasizes the quality of business leadership we have here in the Augusta County region.”
2018 BUSINESS EXCELLENCE AWARD WINNERS
1. Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award: Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc.
2. Small Business Excellence Award: Valley Pike Farm Market
3. Large Business Excellence Award: Ball Advanced Aluminum Tech.
4. Nonprofit Excellence Award: Central Blue Ridge Community Foundation
5. Young Professional Award: Matt Ledford, Daikin Applied
6. Business Leadership Award: Dr. John Downey, BRCC
7. Ambassador of the Year: Tom Jorgenson, Bradford Staffing
The Chamber honored each of these winners and delivered it’s year in review at the Annual Meeting and Business Excellence Awards on Wednesday, March 21st at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Staunton. This event will be a celebration of excellence in business in our Greater Augusta region.
WHSV TVS Interview with our President, Becky Wiseman
We are so honored to receive this year’s Woman-Owned Business Excellence Award! A big Thank You to all of our dedicated employees, suppliers, business colleagues and customers. Thank you for your business and your support. Thanks again to the GARCC for hosting this lovely event.
Our Company Is Expanding – Investing $224,000 in Augusta County
- November 28 2017
Government & Industrial Contract Additions Leads to Warehouse Expansion, Resulting in 15 New Jobs!
Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. is excited to announce a $224,000 investment, towards expanding our warehouse. This will accommodate the anticipated growth from the addition of industrial and government contracts. This new growth will provide 15 new jobs in Augusta County – an investment we’re very proud of and looking forward to. We believe in investing in people and making a difference in our local community, and we believe these efforts will do just that.
President, Becky Wiseman – has this to say about the new expansion and job creation:
“It’s amazing and it is kind of personal because my dad did start the business in 1984 and unfortunately he left in 2000 and I took over and just as the years have gone by, different opportunities have come up. It’s just been a roller coaster ride but it’s all been good.”
All in all, these are exciting times for Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. and we thank each our employees, dedicated vendors, business colleagues and customers who have helped make our company what it is today!
LifeNet Health - Celebration of Life Gala
- November 13 2017
Becky & Bruce Wiseman and Donna & Jeff Workman were in attendance at the Celebration of Life Gala. They were there with bells on to show their support towards this great organization. Hosted by LifeNet Health®, a leading facilitator in restoring health and saving lives. This is done through the gifts of human organ and tissue donation. We thank them for their dedication.
The event increases public awareness of the critical need for donation, supports the life-changing work of the Donor Family Services team and provides funding for the life-saving research and development initiatives.
Controlled Environments Readers’ Choice Award Winner
- May 1 2017
The award celebrates excellence in product design and performance for tools, equipment, and materials used in all areas of clean and controlled environment performance and operation. The winning products will appear in the print and digital issues of Controlled Environments and online at www.cemag.us. Winners will also receive a certificate as a Best Cleanroom Product of 2017.
Our submissions for both the Hutch-Pak Polypropylene Spunbond Shoe Cover and the Texwipe’s Cleanroom AlphaMop have been voted the Best Apparel Product and Best Cleanroom Consumables Product for the Controlled Environments’ 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Appears in the print and digital May / June 2017 Issue.
Our submission for the Halyard Health Impervious Comfort Gown has been voted the Best Apparel Product in Controlled Environments’ 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards.
Appears in the print and digital March 2015 issue.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES!
Annual Company Christmas Dinner
- December 10 2016
The family and friends of Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. receives a visit from Santa during their Annual Company Christmas Dinner. The festivities bring smiles and laughter to all. Sending you heartfelt wishes for a wonderful Christmas holiday that sparkles and shines. May this delightful season be full of days that are merry and bright. Keep light in your heart and love in your eyes this year and every year. Merry Christmas from The Hutchins & Hutchins Inc. Family!
El Puerto Mexican Grill & Cantina - 2018
El Puerto Mexican Grill & Cantina - 2016
Waynesboro Country Club - 2015
Golden Corral - 2014
Golden Corral - 2013
3rd Year of On-Hand Fire Extinguisher Training
- October 24 2016
October is Fire Safety Month! Adhering to OSHA requirements for fire extinguisher training, the employees of Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. had an opportunity to learn the proper, hands on methods of using a fire extinguisher.
Health & Safety Officer, Donald ‘Rilo’ Michael with the Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department conducted the training. The classroom portion covered the different causes of fires and the appropriate type of extinguisher needed. A BIG Thank You to Mr. Michael
For the secondary portion of the training, the employees relocated outside to experience extinguishing a controlled fire. Each employee took a turn using the extinguisher, which is not only beneficial in the workplace, but for at home use as well.
- March 29 2016
When we hear the word “contamination”, we know that it’s bad. But do we know exactly what we’re up against when we’re talking about contaminants? Contamination is a multifaceted game, and there are different ways to address each risk. Contaminants can be physical, chemical, or microbiotic, but today, we’ll be talking about the former two categories.
Physical contaminants are outside substances or objects that find their way into a product or food mixture. They can be as large as a rock or as small as a speck of dust, and they’re not always harmful. Sometimes they are, however – and if the physical contaminant is a living one, like a rat or a roach, your product is also at risk for bacterial contamination. Gross. This is especially troubling if you work in food; keep your products safe from outside objects by keeping them in FDA-approved flat, plastic poly bags. Not only are they great for shipping and keeping your internal items protected, but they’re also recyclable, so you can cut down on waste! You’ll want those bags to be closed nice and tight, so look into getting a thermal sealer as well.
Outside objects can be carried into a cleanroom on an individual’s clothing if they’re not careful. Not only can this bring unclean items into a meticulously clean area, but it can even put employees at risk for slips and falls. Protocol surrounding changing rooms, uniforms, and jewelry should be taken seriously by everyone to ensure a safer cleanroom environment. Certainly people working in cleanrooms understand the importance of clean clothing, but even the cleanest employee can unknowingly track objects into the cleanroom by the bottom of their feet. Sticky mats like the CleanStep can greatly reduce one’s likelihood of inadvertently skating into their cleanroom on a wave of dirty objects!
Some contaminants are of the chemical variety, and these can be much harder to notice. At times, these contaminants can come from something you’ve used to try and keep your product clean in the first place! Chemical contaminants can be introduced as a result of pesticides, tainted water, or industrial pollutants. These chemicals may already be way before a product makes it into a cleanroom (for example, on a pesticide-reliant farm). When you are in control, however, you can minimize the risk for additional contamination by keeping your cleaning products (and other chemicals) locked away and separate from your food products while not in use. Our safety cabinets are a great choice; they’re sturdy, leak-proof, and their bright color makes them hard to miss.
Another way to cut down your risk for chemical contamination is to lower the amount of free-flowing chemicals you’re dealing with in the first place. For tiny clean-ups and regular maintenance throughout the day, don’t break out that huge bottle of sanitizer. There are wipes for any and every cleanroom situation. If you’re in food processing, the TexWipe Cotton Wipes are ideal for high-temperature surfaces and spills, and you’ll be using minimal effort for maximum cleanliness.
* Goodheart-Wilcox Publisher, “Food Safety: Sources of Contamination.” Food Microbiology: Living Organisms in Food. (http://www.g-w.com/pdf/sampchap/9781590706534_ch18.pdf accessed March 2016)
* Sandle, “People in Cleanrooms: Understanding and Monitoring the Personnel Factor.” 2014. IVT Network (http://www.ivtnetwork.com/article/people-cleanrooms-understanding-and-monitoring-personnel-factor)
* “Food Safety: Sources of Contamination.” http://www.g-w.com/pdf/sampchap/9781590706534_ch18.pdf Accessed March 2016
Eat (Really) Clean – It Tastes Better
- February 25 2016
Whether you work in food production, processing, or packaging, you could benefit from our full spectrum of the most current innovations in cleanroom equipment and supplies at Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc.
It probably seems straightforward at first: we don’t want harmful bacteria on our food. Therefore, a cleanroom is one of the most comprehensive ways to keep food, well, clean.
It goes further than avoiding another Chipotle-esque scandal, however. Food technology experts suggest that cleanrooms between ISO classes 5-8 can improve the quality and storage times of different food items. When working with perishable goods, here are a few aspects you should keep in mind for your cleanroom.
According to Food Safety Magazine, having a well thought-out barrier system in place is one of the basic concepts for avoiding contamination. One should have control over every potential entry and exit point in the room, including the openings for pipes, drains, and vents. Not only does this help keep pests and dust away from your customers’ dinner; it also keeps the air pressure in your cleanroom from fluctuating too wildly.
One product we’d like to suggest is the Through Wall Pass-Thru Systems manufactured by Atmos-Tech Industries. This product allows you to pass items through barriers while keeping the cleanroom’s air pressure and particle count balanced. Effective zoning of separate processes within the same plant is key to preventing cross-contamination and applying appropriate practices to items with different hygienic needs.
Close your eyes and think about a lamp in your typical, non-cleanroom environment. There’s a strong chance that the lamp you’re imagining is collecting dust, casting shadows, and causing heat (which attracts bugs and bacteria).
Obviously, these aren’t things you want in your cleanroom. Sealed Troffer Lighting, however, will help you circumvent those issues with a smooth, low-brightness lens and a flush frame. Plus, it’s designed for your cleanroom’s ceiling, which is ideal for minimizing shadow. We probably don’t have to mention that a hot, humid, bug-infested room can severely impact the taste and safety of any food item.
This year, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will go into effect. For the food industry, this means higher expectations for preventive controls, as well as more accountability for monitoring procedures.
With that in mind, the Portable Particle Counter will help you exceed the FDA’s expectations. With its small size and large screen, you have the ability to monitor airflow, humidity, temperature, and up to six different particle sizes – no matter where you are. If the air and temperature are stable, the taste of your food is stable – not to mention there’s less bacteria changing your product before it makes it to the shelf.
The Portable Particle Counter also has the ability to store up to 10,000 measurements, so you have a comprehensive data history to use when taking any course of corrective action. You’ll be able to fight any potential health risks before they arise, and both the Federal Government and your consumers will be much happier for it.
For those in the food industry, these are just a few ideas to keep in mind when designing or updating your cleanroom. If you’re at all new to food production or cleanroom design, the importance of everyday equipment – like lighting – can be easy to overlook. We implore you to think outside of the particle-controlled box: what are some other ways to improve the taste and shelf-life of the food you produce in your cleanroom?
Cleanroom technology ensures longer-lasting produce- 2011. foodprocessing.com.au
Moerman M.Sc., Hygienic Design of Food Processing Facilities- 2010. Food Safety Magazine.
Lindstrom, Food Industry Regulatory Outlook for 2016- 2016. www.foodprocessing.com
ANM Philippine Gospel Association
- January 8 2016
Today representatives of Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. welcomed Renee Lilly and Dr. Linda Balugo from the Advancing Native Missions based out of Charlottesville, VA. This agency seeks out, evaluates, and equips native / indigenous mission groups throughout the world in order to hasten global evangelization.
The advocates and volunteers of the Advancing Native Missions provide medical, dental and surgical services, while instilling the power of Christ to thousands of people in need. The donations and supplies they receive are dispersed to the various missionaries in the Philippines, to help bring aid to the aftermath of natural disasters. ANM is able to directly bring supplies through their small organization ministries. The work being done is brought to light through their inspiring newsletters and photographs. One does not realize how valuable a carton of gloves, gowns or masks can be until you see how much of a blessing they are to those in need.
As in years past, Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. has donated medical supplies in an effort to help these native missionaries through advocacy, encouragement, and support. Becky Wiseman, Bruce Wiseman and Donna Workman, representatives of Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. had a chance to witness the end result of these donations in a meeting with Renee and Linda.
Shown below: Pictures of the supplies donated through ANM and how they are being used by Philippine Gospel Association on outreach clinics for medical, dental, and surgical missions.
Getting A Clean Start to the New Year
- January 7 2016
Another year has past and 2016 lays in wait, for a new wealth of opportunity and second chances. The time has come again to get it together, to make a resolution and turn over a new leaf. The problem, however, is we often take these too far. We make vague or grandiose resolutions that find us wallowing in disappointment before the first flower of spring. Research shows that the bigger our commitments to change, the less successful our resolution. It’s better to focus on small, clear, achievable goals. Therefore, in this article we’ll be getting down to the essentials of what you’ll need to keep your cleanroom its cleanest and most effective in the coming year.
In the complicated world of cleanrooms there is much to focus on. It can be overwhelming if you don’t have a way to guide your thinking. So, we’ve concentrated on 3 areas of focus that will help you zero-in on the essentials of your cleanroom, and direct your thinking in a clearer, more productive way. If you can get these simple areas right, you’ll be on your way to your cleanest year yet.
Personnel - Protective gear and garments
What’s a cleanroom without the team that keeps it running? Whether your business produces integrated circuits, pharmaceuticals or clean lettuce, your personnel is both your biggest threat to cleanliness and its greatest ally.
When it comes to personnel, it’s most important to consider how to defend your team against bringing any contaminates into the room. Therefore, the proper garments are an important line of defense. Depending on your cleanroom there will be varying levels of protection your team will need. However, the basics are often the same: footwear, coveralls, gloves, bouffants and facemasks. At Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. the garments we sell focus on quality and effectiveness. We have the right supplies to protect your team, regardless of your cleanroom needs. When your team is properly protected, the result is a cleaner room and a more productive year ahead.
Furniture - From chairs to surgical tables
It can be easy to forget about the furniture that surrounds us. Whether it’s the chair you’ve been sitting in while reading this post or a cabinet that holds cleanroom supplies, these things can fade into the background if we’re not vigilant in our awareness. It’s important to have the right furniture for the right space. That means keeping up on the needs of your room and the latest products available.
There are many types of furniture that help cleanrooms operate more effectively and efficiently. At Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. we have dozens of pieces that enable your cleanroom to function at it’s optimal state. From the most comfortable ergonomic chairs and stools to easy-to-use mobile computer workstations, we help you equip your cleanroom with furniture that keeps things running smoothly. Keeping your most basic equipment in mind ensures you’ll never overlook any element of your cleanroom.
Safety - Cleaning the cleanroom and other precautions
As with any work place, once you have your team and equipment in place, safety is the primary concern. For a cleanroom, safety is multifaceted. Aside from keeping your team safe with the proper garments, there are a few other considerations. Depending on your cleanroom there can be many hazards, yet the biggest threat to safety comes from spills and other accidents.
No one can avoid every accident, but you can defend against them by keeping your cleanroom clean and making sure the right safety information is easily available. Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. takes safety seriously. That’s why we carry the most environmentally friendly and effective cleaning supplies available. From our basic cleaning kits to our Core2Clean Systems, we enable you to avoid the most common contaminating incidents. But we don’t stop there. With easy to access MSDS sheets, your team will know how to protect your room from the damage of harmful chemical spills and other accidents.
With these simple focus areas in mind, you’ll be able to equip your cleanroom with the right essentials, and enable your team to have its cleanest year yet.
Controlled Environments | Product Showcases
- December 22 2015
Each month we showcase products by featuring articles in the Controlled Environments Magazine. This is an opportunity to educate our readers on the benefits of what we think are noteworthy products. Controlled Environments features these products in their monthly digital newsletters along with their print magazine editions. Each article contains a photo of the product, along with a brief description of its uses, features and benefits. We provide you with information on the products, what's so amazing about it and how the products are used within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and healthcare industries.
APPAREL USED IN CLEANROOM FACILITIES
- Publication: Controlled Environments Nov / Dec Edition
- Model #88842 (Mult. Mo. #s) More Product Information
CLEANROOM BENCHES & ENCLOSURES
- Publication: Controlled Environments July / August Edition
- Model #13201 (Mult. Mo. #s) More Product Information
READER'S CHOICE AWARD WINNER SHOWCASE PRODUCTS
- Press Release: Winners of Inaugural Readers' Choice Awards
- Model #s 69600, 69601, 69602 & 69603 More Product Information
CLEANROOM CONSUMABLES & SUPPLIES
FLOORING | WALLS | CEILINGS
- Publication: Controlled Environments Nov. / Dec. Edition
- Model #100-93-366064 More Product Information
BENCHES | HOODS | ENCLOSURES | WORKSTATIONS
HEPA FAN FILTRATION SYSTEM
SURFACE DISINFECTING AND CLEANING SYSTEM
- Publication: Controlled Environments July / August Edition
- Model #C2C-102
- Publication: Controlled Environments June Edition
- Model #ACC7152
CONSUMABLES & SUPPLIES
- Publication: Controlled Environments Feb. Edition
- Model #VR42400CR
Cleanrooms on the Cutting Edge
- December 11 2015
Every day things get a little bit faster. The chips that run our computers become smaller and more powerful. The quickness with which information travels increases exponentially. And medical and technical innovations change the landscape of what's possible. The world of cleanrooms is no different. In fact, cleanrooms enable these technologies by offering spaces for the manufacturing of the parts and components of innovation. To be a part of the advancement of our society, we have to know how society is moving. And to stay relevant with the world of cleanrooms, it's important to know what's around the corner.
In this month's blog post we look at 3 examples of cutting-edge ways cleanrooms are changing the face of technology and innovation, and how cleanroom supplies are vital to progress.
Food technology is one area where advances are constant. In fact, one Japanese company is producing the world’s cleanest lettuce out of its 2,000 square foot clean room. In an effort to utilize a previously vacant fab, Fujitsu, a company best known for supercomputers, has been turning engineers into gardeners. As with anything produced in a cleanroom, Fujitsu’s lettuce is tightly controlled. From the seedling to the compost every step in the plant’s production is made with precision.
The production of cleanroom food is catching on. But unlike producing integrated circuits or medical equipment, producing clean food requires a truly hands-on approach. So every green thumb requires a glove to match. That’s why at Hutchins & Hutchins we carry some of the most durable, effective gloves and garments to keep clean gardens clean, and ensuring the advancement of this exciting field of discovery.
Class 10 Innovation
Some of the cleanest cleanrooms are used to manufacture integrated circuits. These are the silicone-based technologies that enable some of the most powerful machines the world has ever seen. And at the forefront of integrated circuit technology is Intel. Their Fab 23 cleanroom is an incredible example of the size, scale and precision required to stay relevant in this ever-growing industry.
Fab 23 is a Class 10 facility. And it is the size of two football pitches. Technicians and scientists work 12-hour shifts in the cleanroom and closely monitor every step in the manufacturing process. It takes hundreds of steps to transform perfectly pure silicone into a circuit board that helps run supercomputers and other technologies. Across those hundreds of steps it takes people to keep a close eye on the process. They ensure no problems arise, and if they do they act fast to resolve the issue. To enable this monitoring system they use cleanroom computers. These are highly effective devices that meet cleanroom standards.
Enabling scientists like those who work at Fab 23 is part of the reason we at Hutchins & Hutchins do what we do. We carry the same type of cleanroom computers used by the best in the business. Helping scientists make breakthroughs in technology that enables the world around us. Fab 23 represents the epitome of the facilities that help move our society forward.
The Softer Side of Cleanrooms
Another cutting-edge way cleanrooms are used to advance our world is in space technology. In fact, as you read this blog post European scientists are preparing to send two orbiters to Mars to continue our push to understand the cosmos. But it takes a lot of hard work to prepare a mission to mars. The science is mind-boggling. Every instrument must be perfectly constructed and calibrated, every piece of the rocket precise in its functioning. And to ensure no earthly particles confuse things, the orbiters must be completely clean.
The trouble, however, is that every launching station isn’t equipped with cleanroom facilities. That’s why companies like Hutchins & Hutchins provide softwall cleanrooms. For the scientists in Europe a cleanroom tent is required to prepare the heavy-duty transporter plane for launch. It’s these sorts of mobile cleanroom units that enable discovery to continue and exploration of our universe possible.
Cleanrooms and cleanroom supplies are crucial our society moving forward, and at Hutchins & Hutchins we are proud to be a part of that advancement.
Cleanroom, Clean Planet
- November 4 2015
Clair Patterson was an environmentalist. Although he never made the claim, his work had one of the most positive environmental impacts of the 20th century. And what enabled this big leap forward? The invention of the cleanroom.
In the 1950s Patterson, a geochemist, was trying to determine the age of the earth. To do so he was measuring the rate of radioactive decay in lead found in the debris of a meteor crater. Patterson gathered lead samples, and took them back to his lab. However, determining the radioactive decay in the lead with any accuracy proved difficult. Lead in the ambient environment was contaminating his samples. He needed to be 100% sure that he was only measuring the material he collected and not picking up traces of lead in the atmosphere. He concluded his lab wasn’t clean enough and he needed a better solution. So Patterson created the first ultra cleanroom.
Through trial, error and innovation Patterson created a new lab that was so clean that he could measure his lead samples precisely and consistently. His hard work led to a huge discovery: Patterson determined the age of the earth was almost 4.5 billion years old.
To this day that measurement remains one of the most accurate estimations of the age of the planet.
Along the way Patterson found that the atmosphere was full of lead, which was the very reason he needed to create the cleanroom. Big industries were pumping lead into the atmosphere through cars and other industrial processes. Hand-in-hand with the creation of the cleanroom came a campaign to stop the use of lead in gasoline and other industrial products. Through Patterson’s work the harmful effects of lead in our environment were dramatically reduced.
Cleanrooms have always been associated with a cleaner environment, both at a global and micro scale. Just like Patterson, Hutchins & Hutchins™ believes we should do what we can to create a cleaner world. That's why we work to distribute products and create processes that help reduce our environmental impact. Here are a few examples of how we follow in Patterson's footsteps.
We work hard to ensure we always reduce, reuse and recycle our products and materials. Reducing waste is a powerful way to help the environment. That’s why we’ve adopted processes that enable us to keep our waste at a minimum and be better stewards of our output. Whether it’s by using electronic communication for all correspondence, reducing our energy consumption during off-hours, donating retired products or continuing the life of our products through recycling; we are dedicated to making the processes behind our business as planet-friendly as possible.
Working with other organizations to enable a smaller environmental footprint allows us to make a greater impact. The Right Cycle program through Kimberly-Clark Professional is a perfect example. Some cleanroom supplies are harder to recycle. When it comes to gloves and other garments, the solution is more complicated than recycling a can of Coke. Kimberly-Clark Professional has taken the guesswork out of recycling these products and streamlined the process. With a simple contract with The Right Cycle program, facilities can help reduce their waste and empower their organizations. For more about The Right Cycle program check out this link.
Whenever it’s possible we consider the environment. That goes for our products as well. Distributing supplies that can be recycled, reused or packaged in low-waste ways is a chief concern. You can see these efforts in many of our products, including our cut resistant sleeves made from recycled water bottles; our KoolTemp Shipping Containers made with a modular design that is reusable and easily recyclable; and our Rival 9.5” Nitrile Exam Gloves that are packaged to reduce waste and cost. We work to distribute products that are not only good for the environment, but right for our clients.
A good cleanroom teaches us many lessons about how to create a healthier environment. We must be careful, cautious and sensitive to what's around us. At Hutchins & Hutchins™ we are dedicated to a better environment both inside and outside the room.
If you're looking for ways to make your cleanroom more environmentally friendly give us call and we're happy to help you find ways to do so.
Understanding Cleanrooms & Particle Count
- October 2 2015
At the basic level, the nature of a cleanroom is easily understandable, although it takes a bit more explanation to understand the official definition. Even someone who’s not in the industry can guess from the name that it’s a room possessing a high standard of control and cleanliness. As an introduction to the particulars a cleanroom entails, we’ll get into things like temperature control, filtration, particle count, humidity and other natural variables – as well as the levels of these variables that satisfy regulatory compliance rules.
Understanding the Nature of a Cleanroom
Contamination from external environments is one of the most important things that a cleanroom must take into account – irrespective of the work being done inside the room. With that said, the nature of the work being done inside determines the extent to which particle control is important, as well as the classification that is ultimately conferred upon the facility. First and foremost, the following figures characterize the state of a cleanroom when it is completely absent of any external contaminants. These biological elements can significantly alter the particle count; in fact, it is this sensitivity that makes a full-body coverall and other cleanroom equipment essential aspects of the working environment - to ensure that external factors don’t contribute (or contribute negligibly) to the particle count.
Clearing Up the Cleanroom Classification System
The judgment system started out as a Federal Classification; in many cases it has since been superseded by the International Organization for Standardization. The document that covers this is termed the “Cleanrooms and Associated Controlled Environments – Part1: Certification of Air Cleanliness” document, or ISO 14644-1 for airborne particulate content. The Classes range from 1 through 100,000, with Class 1 being the cleanest facility (most devoid of particles of a particular size; i.e, the “best” cleanroom). For reference, recognize that an ISO Class 1 facility has 10 particles of size 0.1 micrometers per cubic meter of air, and is also called a Class 10 facility to delineate this number of particles (this is often a point of confusion). Although there are often particles of a larger size in this same volume of air, they are ignored in the classification, because the number of such particles is significantly fewer. The ISO equivalent ranges from ISO Class 1 to ISO Class 9, with (Class) corresponding to the number of particles per cubic foot of air. Their relationship is as follows:
- ISO Class 1 (Class 10)– refers to a cleanroom with less than 10 particulates of size 0.1 micrometers per cubic meter of air. This same volume is restricted to a maximum of 2 particles of size 0.2 micrometers.
- ISO Class 2 (Class 100) – refers to cleanrooms that have fewer than 100 particulates of size 0.1 micrometers per cubic meter of air, and less than 24 0.2 micrometer-sized particles in the same volume.
- ISO Class 3 (Class 1000) – refers to a facility with less than 1,000 0.1 micrometer-sized particles per cubic meter of air, and a maximum of 237 particles that are 0.2 micrometers in diameter.
- ISO Class 4 (Class 10,000) – refers to a cleanroom with fewer than 10,000 0.1 micrometer-sized particles per cubic meter and 2,370 particles that are 0.2 micrometers in the same volume.
- ISO Class 5 (Class 100,000) – designates a facility with at most 100,000 particles of size 0.1 micrometers in every cubic meter of air, and 23,700 0.2 micrometer-sized particles in the same volume.
- ISO Class 6 (Class 1,000,000) – a cleanroom with up to 1 million 0.1 micrometer-sized particulates in every cubic meter of air, and 237 thousand 0.2 micrometer-sized particles in this same volume.
The remaining ISO Classes go up to ISO Class 9, and are based not on the amount of 0.1 micrometer-sized particles in every cubic millimeter of air, but larger-sized particles of diameter 0.5, 1 and 5 micrometers – designating cleanrooms with much less stringent controls. As you can see, there are overlaps in the measurements. Not only is your cleanroom judged by the particle concentration, but also by the size of the particles; you can have larger particles within a volume of air – but they must be fewer in number.
Methods of Cleanroom Control
Although cleanroom designations are made with filters already in place, they are subject to upgrades in the air flow system. Should this happen, the ISO Class designation can change to reflect the new level of particulate content per cubic meter of air. These High Efficiency Particulate Arrestors are called HEPA filters, and possess various airflow designs that can move a facility up the ladder of ISO Class designations. Even more efficient, Ultra Low Particulate Arrestors (ULPA) filters can make a cleanroom even cleaner. After you have accounted for the filters, maintenance is the next most important thing on the list. Gloves, labcoats, boot covers, hoods and other cleanroom materials comprise the bulk of the sales in the cleanroom industry; and for good reason. These must be disposed of regularly, as they pick up particulate matter from the substances being worked on inside the facility and increase the particle count inside. Taking care of these things at designated intervals ensures that your cleanroom maintains its ISO designation, and contamination is minimized within acceptable limits.
Future of the Cleanroom Industry
- August 21 2015
No one wants to be the buggy whip manufacturer when it comes to new technology, they want to be Henry Ford. Sometimes it’s better to be Firestone. Firestone was already established as a manufacturer of tires for wagons and buggies in 1900 before Henry Ford selected them to be the official tire of his Model T in 1906. Some people say it was coincidence that Harvey Firestone became good friends with Ford before his Model T started mass production and others will say Firestone saw a good business opportunity and made it happen. The growth of secondary industries is an opportunity for the cleanroom industry to grow and profit with them. The cleanroom industry is growing. There is more demand for cleanrooms, for a variety of purposes, than a decade ago. Right now the cleanroom industry is worth an estimated 3 billion dollars in 2015 and is projected to grow to 3.8 billion dollars by 2020, a 27% increase. That’s a change equivalent to the entire national output of Grenada for a year. The biotech industry has grown at 11% annually between 2010 and 2015, the nanotechnology sector by 19% between 2011 and 2014, and the pharmaceutical industry is projected to grow by 31% between 2013 and 2018. Growth in sectors that require cleanroom environments are driving the sudden growth in the cleanroom industry.
There are new advances made everyday in medicine, biomedical engineering, microprocessors, nanotechnology, and other fields sectors. A constant influx of All these brilliant ideas are going through the process of becoming physical things and they need a place to be built. Modern drugs need to be made in sterile environments, biomedical research can’t risk contamination., A a stray hair can ruin a quarter million dollar batch of processors, and nanotechnology works on such a small scale that any sized contaminant can be a disaster. This is where the The best part comes into play, if you’re already established in the cleanroom business… someone has to build those cleanrooms. It’s not just the technology being made in the cleanroom that‘s advancing, its the clean rooms themselves. Softwall cleanrooms are the most popular method of constructing a cleanroom, but new manufacturing techniques like modular hardwall cleanroom construction is are becoming increasingly popular. Hardwall cleanrooms are growing in popularity for a number of reasons including design flexibility, ease of construction and reduced installation cost. When businesses decide to purchase a cleanroom it’s a major capital expense and they know that a properly maintained cleanroom should last for decades. With that in mind, forward-thinking businesses are putting a premium on newer, more efficient systems. Energy efficient decentralized air filters, decontamination systems designed to be almost maintenance free, a general shift to modular design for all pieces of cleanroom equipment are examples of new versions of cleanroom equipment. Not every customer will need the cutting edge technology, but some will find value in future proofing their facility during construction. If you're already established in the cleanroom construction industry, the next few years should be rewarding and profitable. With all of this projected growth we see two ways to capitalize on this extra potential revenue, maximizing during the boom or planning for long term growth. There’s a catch though, these high growth rates won't last forever. Eventually the supply of cleanrooms being built will catch up to the demand of the market and things will slow down. If there are projects you have to pass on due to lack of people or equipment, consider scaling up. In industries that require specialized construction processes, look at breaking into those markets and providing cleanroom solutions for emerging needs.
Much like how knowing is only half the battle, building a cleanroom is only half of the job. We could make the most cutting edge, state of the art cleanroom and it would still need to be maintained or it would become a cutting edge, state of the art non-functioning cleanroom. Disposable items, like gloves and wipes, make up ⅔ of the cleanroom industry product sales. With every new cleanroom built there’s a new cleanroom that has surfaces to be wiped, filters to be changed, and workers to be gloved and properly garmented. While cleanrooms can only be purchased and built once, disposables are purchased over and over again, sustaining long term growth of disposable sales for every cleanroom built. Building a retail division from a construction company is a great use of extra profits. Most cleanroom retailers won't have the chance to use a sudden influx of profits to create new divisions within their company though. What they can do during this time of growth is focus on making their business as efficient as possible. A major advantage in the long run for retailers is the knowledge they already have. Think about the charts that encourage people to start saving while they're young. They show the lifetime difference between investing 20 instead 30 and that return of investing at 20 blows 30 out of the water. Your knowledge of the industry is your investment capital. Having a head start on people coming into the retail side of the industry is huge. When you know there's going to be an increased demand for your goods for the next 10-15 years, making investments in your company is a much easier decision to make. A new inventory system, for example, that seems too expensive now, will be worth it over the lifespan of the system due to the increased amount of business it allows you to do. With the growth of its underlying industries, the cleanroom sector is growing at an impressive rate and is projected to continue that growth for the next few years. And Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. is here to help you and your company get the most out of that growth in the coming years, being Your Cleanroom Supplier!
Choosing the Right Insulated Shipping Material
- July 10 2015
It's officially summer and we've just had our first 100 degree day of the year here in Waynesboro, Virginia. Let's take a look at something cold to take our minds off the heat. One of the coolest things we do here at Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. is to help our customers with the logistics of insulated shipping. When it comes to maintaining a cleanroom environment we know how to make sure that your room is clean and up to industry standards, but what about when you need to move something outside of the cleanroom, such as transporting organs to a hospital?
Immediately following removal from the donor, the organ is flushed with an ice cold preservative solution that begins the conservation process. The organ is then placed into a container filled with sterile ice and additional preservative solution. This first container is placed into a larger container with additional cooling, either more ice or a chemical refrigerant, and then into additional container/coolant combination as needed to maintain the temperature for the entire trip. The goal isn't to freeze the organ, which would cause cellular damage, but to keep it near freezing to prevent biological deterioration from occurring.
The two important parts of the packing process are the container and the cooling element. The container holding the delicate organ is the most important aspect. With insulated shipping there's typically only one decision: Polyurethane or EPS(Expanded Styrene). Both are foam insulators used in insulated shipping containers.
If you've ever picked up a disposable weekend cooler at the store you're familiar with EPS. EPS is the most common and inexpensive material used for insulating shipping containers. EPS, commonly referred to as Styrofoam, is actually a brand name just like saying Kleenex for tissues, has been around for about 50 years. Besides simply being older and having more of the insulated shipping market, the biggest reason why EPS is used in so many instances is it’s the most cost effective material for keeping things at a stable cold temperature. Everything from its low material cost, to the ability to have it made in customized shapes, makes it the easiest material to work with when it comes to insulated shipping.
About 35 years ago, a new material arrived in the industry: polyurethane. When considering the important aspects of insulated shipping, polyurethane simply does everything better than EPS. The major downside to polyurethane is price, being significantly more expensive than EPS. You must determine if your transport requires the extra cooling ability, and cost, of polyurethane or if inexpensive EPS is sufficient for your shipping needs.
Let’s make this decision easier with an in-depth breakdown of the differences between the two. Structurally, EPS is foam that is glued in-between two pieces of oriented strand board similar to plywood. This construction technique gives it both lower insulating ability,(R value), and makes it more vulnerable to moisture. This could require the addition of a moisture barrier, depending on the circumstances. Polyurethane is simultaneously insulating and adhesive, so it is applied directly to the oriented strand board. The direct contact between materials gives it a higher insulating rating and makes it less susceptible to moisture. This gives it an added benefit of being mold resistant, if moisture is an issue. We've already mentioned that polyurethane has a higher R value than ESB, but that comes with a drawback for shipping - polyurethane is twice as heavy as EPS. The extra weight comes from polyurethane being twice as dense at 2.2 pounds per cubic foot, as EPS at one pound per cubic foot. That extra density means that polyurethane is stronger than EPS. So it can handle rougher treatment in transit than EPS, which might break or flake off in transport. Another point of safety is to think about how they react to chemicals. Polyurethane is chemical resistant and doesn’t react to most substances. If it were to catch fire for some reason, it puts itself out. This is a big plus in warehouses where a variety of chemical compounds are being shipped. EPS, in comparison, reacts violently to a number chemicals, especially petroleum based, and isn’t self extinguishing.
When all of the factors are compared, we can see the advantages and disadvantages of both. Expanded polyurethane is better suited for applications where there isn't a critical need or a life and death situation. It's cost effective, lighter, easier to move around and it can be molded in many shapes based on the need. A Polyurethane shipper is recommended when there is a need to transport human tissue, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. It's more expensive, heavier, and will take longer to get if you need something custom, but it will keep its’ valuable cargo intact and preserved with less chance of failure.
Choosing and Cleaning Stainless Steel
- June 3 2015
In previous articles we’ve covered what needs to go into your cleanroom, from air filters to cleanroom garments to furniture. We’ve talked about the materials that wearable cleanroom gear like gloves and garments are made of, but what about what your equipment is made out? We understand that in our cleanrooms we need materials that are easily cleaned and corrosion resistant that won’t affect the particle count in the environment, which stainless steel is great for. But just like how there’s a lot of variation between different kinds of cleanrooms, there’s a lot of variation between the different types of stainless steel.
Putting The Stainless in Stainless Steel
Let’s start with a quick chemistry lesson before we begin comparing different types of stainless steel. What exactly makes stainless steel “stainless”? To qualify as stainless a piece of steel must be infused with at least 10.5% of chromium and small amounts of other elements. So how does that 10.5% of chromium make our hypothetical hunk of steel stainless? Think of what happens if you leave an unseasoned cast iron skillet sitting out for an extended period of time. It starts to rust. The rust forms when the iron atoms on the surface of the skillet react to the oxygen in the air to form an oxide. The oxide that initially forms(Fe3O4 or Iron II) has a much larger molecular structure than iron atoms, so large gaps form on the surface of the skillet which allows for other potentially corrosive substances to work their way in. The most common of these substances is a secondary form of iron oxide commonly known as rust(Fe2O3 or Iron III). Once rust gets below the surface it corrodes the iron further flaking it away and causing a number of issues in your cleanroom environment. With the addition of chromium, the oxides that form fit together in a much tighter and more ordered structure. The smaller gaps and bonds form what is called a passivation film. A passivation film is just a chemical layer that protects a material from the damaging effects of oxygen and moisture, in this case by having extremely dense chemical bonds that keep the corrosive elements out.
Types of Stainless Steel
High school chemistry lesson completed, let’s focus on the chemical differences between regular steel and stainless and then break it down further by types of stainless steel. There are three common types of stainless steel: 304, 316, and 430. The most standard and basic form of stainless steel is SAE 304. 304 stainless steel has a mixture of chromium along with nickel, which makes it non-magnetic and resistant to most corrosive substances. The important quality for a cleanroom is that it is resistant to most corrosive substances. If the equipment is for an environment with industrial solvents and chemicals, the surface of the equipment may become pitted or tarnished which allows rust to set in. For environments where harsh chemicals might be used SAE 316 stainless steel is a much better alternative. SAE 316 includes a molybdenum additive to increase the corrosive resistance of the material. The molybdenum allows 316 to stand up to industrial solvents such as chloride solutions or phosphoric and sulfuric acids. The last type of stainless steel is SAE 430. Unlike 304 and 316, 430 is a magnetic steel with good corrosion resistance, but only in environments where concerns over corrosion are small. Intended for use in environments with minimal corrosion but potentially wide temperature swings, SAE 430 sees lots of use in stainless steel kitchen and automotive equipment. Due to its reduced corrosion resistance 430 is the cheapest of the stainless steel options. SAE 304 and 316 are ideal materials for any cleanroom where harsh chemicals will be used, due to their corrosion resistance, where equipment made using 430 steel is a cost effective solution for cleanroom environments that won’t be working with many caustic chemicals.
Cleaning Your Stainless Steel
One of the everyday interactions you'll have with your equipment is cleaning it, so make sure you do it correctly. We explained earlier that the steel is protected by its layer of chromium oxide, which forms a barrier that keeps out any corrosive elements. If there's any dirt or other contaminants on the surface, this chromium oxide layer becomes less effective because oxygen isn't able to get to the chromium atoms to rebuild that layer when it's weakened. So stainless surfaces need to be cleaned to be effective. Instead of having to worry about scrubbing off a patina or a 'seasoning' to remember our cast iron skillet example, the more you clean stainless steel the more oxygen can get to the surface to reform that protective oxide coating. The biggest thing to watch out for when cleaning stainless steel is scratching the surface. A scratch on the surface removes that oxide layer and allows for corrosive elements to get into the steel to form rust. The best way to clean your stainless steel surfaces is to use a certified cleanroom wipe and non-chlorine cleaning agent. To diverge into another quick chemistry lesson, chlorine has the maximum number of leftover electrons it can without being stable at an atomic level, which is an all or nothing proposition in chemistry. This means that chlorine has a lot of energy that it can use to break down or corrode materials like our stainless steel to try and achieve chemical stability. Some safe alternatives to chlorine based cleaners are acetone and isopropyl alcohol. We’ve explained what exactly makes stainless steel stainless, 10.5% chromium, the most common types of stainless steel, SAE 304, 316, and 430, and the differences between them, additional additives. Hopefully with this information you can make a thoroughly informed decision when it comes to you next equipment purchase. Once you have your next piece of equipment, you can properly clean it without worrying about damaging its protective qualities.
- May 1 2015
Lets take look at the various protective garments available. The various pieces that make up cleanroom attire cover and protect you from head to toe, each with various options for budget, protection level and cleanliness concerns.
When you think of a cleanroom protective garments, you probably think of a full body coverall - a one piece suit that fully protects you and prevents your body from contaminating the work environment. Another coverall is the so-called bunny suit variant, which offers an attached hood and shoe covers. The benefit of this style over the standard coverall is it leaves almost no skin exposed except for the face. Along with safety aspects, many workers prefer the simplicity and convenience of a one piece suit compared to separate coveralls, shoe covers, and hoods. The coverall and bunny suit garments are an ideal choice for labs that require the strictest of particle control policies, such as Class 100/ISO 5 and Class 1000/ISO 6 facilities.
The average cleanroom lab coat comes down to the waistline, without offering any protection to the legs or feet. If lower body protection is needed, a style of lab coat known as a frock extends down to the knees. Lab coats and frocks are worn over street clothes and secured with snaps on the front instead of the more secure zip of a typical coverall. An important note for lab coats and frocks is to use sleeves with elastic cuffs to cut down on the contamination threat presented by open sleeves.
Even if you aren’t working in a strict Class 10 cleanroom environment requiring a bunny suit and face mask, you still need to wear some form of shoe or boot cover. Traditional lab foot coverings and booties often cover just the shoes. Cleanroom boot and shoe covers are more protective, extending up the calf to create an overlap with the pant leg to cover all skin at the ankle. Boot and shoe covers must be made of durable materials to handle being walked on without tearing and exposing the environment to contaminants.
In labs that require minimal protection, such as Class 10,000/ISO 7 or higher, the only protective gear required may be some kind of hood and sleeve protection to contain hair and skin particles from the head and hands. A simple hair net or bouffant is sufficient for those in less rigorous facilities, but in more demanding environments a full hood may be required to maintain standards. Full hoods typically come in two variants, with an opening for the full face or an opening for just the eyes. Full face hoods are popular and comfortable to work in since they leave the face open, but the eyes-only hood along with a pair of goggles is the most protective. As we mentioned with lab coats, wrist protection is an important factor with lab garments. For workers with longer arms, elastic cuffs will provide the protective seal that is needed, but can cause issues with sleeves that are too short when reaching. The solution is to wear a cleanroom sleeve over the lab coat to ensure full coverage of the wrist even when the worker extends their arms.
Cleanroom Materials Compared
Let's dig a little deeper into the materials used to manufacture these garments. The most common materials used in cleanroom apparel (in descending order by particle cleanliness) are Tyvek, microporous coated, SMS tri-laminate, and polypropylene. Starting with the most sterile material, we have Tyvek. Tyvek is a material made by DuPont, which has an anti-static coating as well as as being lightweight and breathable while still offering superior protection from particle matter of all types. Next we have microporous coated, or MP fabric, which is a popular alternative to Tyvek, due to it’s lower cost. MP fabric is somewhat heavier and less breathable than Tyvek, so it becomes an issue of cost versus comfort. A fabric such as SMS tri-laminate is made of a Spunbound Meltblown Spunbound material, a fabric that is made of three layers of nonwoven fabrics. SMS fabrics offer the most comfort and breathability while working in dry, non-hazardous conditions. The SMS fabric also isn't as sterile as the Tyvek or MP coated fabrics, which means that it only has a place in cleanrooms with a Class 1,000/ISO 6 or above. The final material we'll discuss is polypropylene. While polypropylene doesn’t meet the same standards of cleanliness as the rest of these materials it is also the cheapest. Polypropylene cleansuits should only be used in non-hazardous environments where it's important to keep the wearer clean and comfortable, but there is little concern about contaminants. Polypropylene is rated for industrial uses that require a Class 10,000/ISO 8 classification or above.
Now that we’ve covered the different types of cleanroom garments and the materials they’re available in, consider how to put all of this information together to make the best purchasing decision possible. Our first and most important question is, “Is this cleanroom certified?” If it’s not, there’s no point in spending money on something you can’t use in your cleanroom. The second question is how much protection you need. Do your workers need to be covered from head to toe in a bunny suit or would a labcoat and gloves would do just fine? More isn’t always better. Finally, think about the kind of protection you need. Are you working with anything particularly hazardous? Are you just trying to keep everything reasonably clean? Not all materials are rated for every situation. Thinking about this critically can save you risk and money.
We’re always available to answer any questions you might have about what garments would work best in your room.
Cleanroom Vacuums for Specialized Tasks
- April 1 2015
When selecting a vacuum to use in your cleanroom there are a few important criteria that will ensure the best results possible. In this month’s post we’re going to take a look at the most important aspects of any cleanroom vacuum.
Any vacuum cleaner that is to be used in a cleanroom absolutely must have a HEPA filter installed, just after air passes through the motor to make sure that particulates from the exhaust stream are properly filtered out. When a vacuum cleaner is being used, the motor’s commutator and carbon brushes will generate dust and a HEPA filter prevents that dust from being released into the environment.
HEPA-filtration systems are not all the same though. For best results, be sure that your vacuum of choice has a multi-stage graduated filter. This graduated filtration system uses several different filters that are progressively finer. As particulates are sucked up through the vacuum the coarser filters will catch the biggest particles and the finer filters will catch the smaller particles. This system will also help to protect your HEPA filters from wear and tear, as well as potential blockages keeping your vacuum running at peak performance. Additionally, if your vacuum uses a ULPA filter (Ultra Low Particulate Air filter) then your system should block up to 99.99% of ultra fine matter and particles – all the way down to particles that are .12 microns and bigger. The HEPA filter only blocks roughly 99.97% of particles, including particles that are .3 microns and larger. Finally, the filtration system in your vacuum will ideally use oversized filters which serves to slow airflow across the larger surface area and optimizes the air-to-cloth ratio. This will ensure that the vacuum can easily collect large volumes of debris over extended periods of time with minimal maintenance.
The ideal cleanroom vacuum does doesn’t just rely on a strong filtration system alone. The vacuum itself should be constructed of non-particle-generating materials, such as non-porous stainless steel and smooth hoses and attachments. This will enable personnel to quickly and efficiently wipe down and decontaminate equipment for faster, simpler sanitization. There are many models of cleanroom vacuums that are autoclavable, but be sure to check before trying so you don’t destroy your investment.
We also suggest vacuums that are capable of wet and dry collection, just in case liquids need to be cleaned up in a hurry. If your vacuum is not wet and dry capable, investing in a second vacuum is highly recommended. Using a dry vacuum for spill response can lead to a destroyed investment and potentially serious injuries. Wet-collection vacuums must have a grounded bypass motor to prevent electrical hazards. Two important features of a good wet vacuum is that the vacuum uses a stainless steel or polyethylene tank to prevent corrosion as well as an automatic shut-off valve that prevents it from over filling.
Choosing The Right Cleanroom Seating
- February 27 2015
Each day cleanroom professionals spend hours upon hours at their work bench, making the cleanroom chair one of the most heavily used and easiest pieces of equipment to overlook. After all, chairs are essential for your staff to work comfortably at their workstation for long periods of time and their comfort, or lack thereof, can lead to losses in productivity. With this in mind, this months blog post is about how to maximize your employees comfort while working within a critical environment.
Ideally a cleanroom chair or stool will provide the user with a comfortable, ergonomic fit while meeting the strict requirements of the sterile environment they work in. Unfortunately it's not as easy as just 'picking out chair' and calling it a day. Since body shapes and sizes vary from person to person it is important to consider each potential user. A chair for a tall technician will not provide the same comfort or ergonomic benefits as for a shorter technician. Mismatches like this can actually be harmful for an employee after a long and uncomfortable 8 hour shift. Even choosing to use a stool instead of a chair can lead to long term problems for the technician. To help prevent this problem from occurring in your sterile environment we've put together a checklist to keep in mind for the next time you need to purchase cleanroom equipment.
The Chair vs Stool Debate
Stools offer several advantages that can’t be matched by a standard cleanroom chair. The backless aspect of the stool means that there is a much smaller chance of new particles being generated or introduced into the environment from rubbing against the technician’s back, as well as an ergonomic gains through forced posture. However, stools can be uncomfortable after an extended period of time. Hutchins & Hutchins Inc recommends using stools with glides at workstations that require very little movement or in areas that don’t require a user to be there for hours on end. On the other hand, using a clean room stool with casters can be an efficient way for an employee to remain seated and move from workstation to workstation. Having no backrest or arm rests significantly decreases the likelihood of cleanroom garments being caught as the employee moves around.
Should you decide that chairs are a better choice for your particular environment, follow these 11 steps to make sure that you’re maximizing your employee’s comfort and ergonomic support.
- Measure their height and weight. An employee weighing over 250 lbs will require a roomier chair. Take a look at our selection of cleanroom chairs for plus sizes. These same height measurements should be used when purchasing a stool as well.
- Measure the seat height and the cylinder size. Ideally the seat of the chair will be able to support the thighs comfortably with feet resting firmly on the floor or foot rest. The front edge of the seat’s height should also match the length of your lower leg. This measurement is known as the Popliteal height.
- Determine the depth of the seat. When a worker sits in the chair they should have a space of 1" to 3" between the back of their knees and the seat. In this position, their back will be supported by the backrest and the seat cushion will provide a large surface area for weight distribution.
- Measure the seat width. The seat should be wider than the hips. If armrests are to be used then ensure there is an additional 2" on the total width of the seat for maximum comfort.
- Make sure that the Forward Tilt Seat Angle, when used, does not force the body to thigh angle to fall below 90 degrees. This will cause the technician discomfort.
- Check the Seat Cushion to make sure its ideal for your needs. Keep in mind that a contour cushion with high density padding will be better for weight distribution. A contoured seat, or saddle seat, will also help to eliminate the sensation of sliding out of the chair when in a forward leaning position.
- Ensure that the backrest meets your cleanroom’s needs and supports the technicians lumbar spinal contours. There are backrests with contours available. Low and narrow backrests are generally used for tasks requiring upper body mobility and frequent arm movement. Tall backrests should be used for more sedentary roles. The backrest in this instance should support the shoulders as well as the low back area. Also note that generally speaking, the height of the backrest will be higher for women, whereas men will require a lower placement.
- If Armrests are to be used then they must be placed in such a way that allows the worker to sit close to the workstation without impeding their mobility, but also to be able to use them while the technicians back is firmly touching the backrest. The exact size of the armrest is important because if it’s too thin then it may interfere with the users arm movement, but if it is too wide then it may not offer enough support. Armrests should be placed in such a way that they don’t catch any cleanroom garments that the user is wearing.
- Decide between Casters or Glides. For stations that require little movement, glides may be the ideal option. However if the station requires mobility between sections then casters are encouraged. Casters come in an ESD option for cleanrooms that require static control.
- Ensure the upholstery of the cleanroom chair is either vinyl or polyurethane on the seat and back. Cloth upholstery should not be considered as its use will produce particulates. Polyurethane and vinyl cushions have been filled with foam and sealed to prevent particulates from entering the cleanroom environment as air escapes from the weight of a technician using the chair. These materials are also easier to clean.
- Keep in mind that the standard cleanroom or ESD chair is generally a five legged, tubular steel, aluminium, or reinforced plastic base. Deviations from this may result in a non-cleanroom compliant chair.
To sum this up, first you must decide whether or not your staff will be sitting in the cleanroom for hours at a time. Use this to decide whether or not you will need a stool or a chair at your station, and remember that the less time sitting means comfort is less of a concern, which may indicate that a stool is a better option. To decide if the chair you need requires a certain amount of adjustability, it is best to look at the other equipment. Is any of it adjustable? If so, you may not need that requirement from your chair. There is also a certain level of personal taste for each employee, so it is good practice to discuss their preferred seated position. Seating in the cleanroom should be re-evaluated as tasks change, as what worked in one situation may not work in another.
We hope that with this information you’re well on your way to determining the seating requirements for your cleanroom. Should you need any help or if you would like to discuss seating options, then give us a call at (800) 554-4736. We will be more than happy to work with you to determine the best equipment for your room.
The Right (& Left) Glove for The Job
- January 30 2015
When looking closely at the requirements for your controlled environment, choosing the correct, disposable, cleanroom glove can become a tedious decision. There are a number of different materials to choose from, each best suited for specific tasks. We’re going to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of disposable gloves that are appropriate for use within a cleanroom.
Let’s first look at the 3 most frequently encountered types of gloves.
Latex gloves are very common, but carry the risk of causing allergic reactions in 8-10% of people. One advantage of latex gloves is elasticity, which provides a comfortable, snug fit, while providing excellent tactile feedback and flexibility of use. Latex gloves are great to use within a lab or other technical environment that demands precision. They are recommended for use of food handling to medical grade materials. Latex gloves provide limited protection against chemicals, but protect well against biological or water-based materials.
Nitrile gloves are a strong alternative to latex. They provide excellent durability and are difficult to puncture or tear. They retain the elasticity of latex, maintaining the snug fit. Nitrile gloves are perfect for working within a lab, with chemicals, or for food handling. They are considerably more resistant to a variety of harsh chemicals than latex and provide superior protection from cuts and abrasions. Nitrile gloves are nearly 3x more puncture resistant than natural rubber and are protective against solvents, oils, greases, some acids, and some bases.
Vinyl gloves are an affordable solution for those with latex sensitivities. The drawback of vinyl gloves is they are commonly thicker. They lack the elasticity of a latex and or nitrile gloves, making vinyl gloves fit a little looser. However, they are the most affordable, disposable glove solution available and are excellent for cleaning, painting, assembly work, and work involving lab and food services. Vinyl is considerably more limited in it’s use as a chemical resistant glove than nitrile or latex.
Each of these types of glove are available powdered or non-powdered, which allows the wearer to easily slide their hands inside. The downside to powdered gloves is there is a chance of releasing airborne particulates during the donning and removal process. For this reason, powder-free gloves are more popular and are highly recommended within cleanrooms.
Let’s take a look at some less common types of gloves used in cleanrooms.
Polychloroprene, or neoprene, is a latex-free combination of chloroprene polymers. The gloves themselves provide a similar feel, level of protection, and tactile performance to latex gloves. Polychloroprene gloves are comfortable, making them excellent to wear for long periods of time. Disposable polychloroprene gloves are strong against most hazardous chemicals, but are weak against halogenated and aromatic hydrocarbons. These gloves are a great compromise between latex and nitrile and offer the user both comfort and protection.
Created through a blend of neoprene, nitrile and natural rubber, Triple Polymer glovesprovide excellent durability, chemical resistance and comfort. Textured fingertips provide a strong grip when handling wet or oily objects. These gloves are great for lab work, light assembly, parts handling and maintenance. Triple Polymer gloves are entirely free of powder and the ill effects associated with it, but just as easy to put on. They are suitable for Cleanroom ISO Class 6 use.
Co-Polymer gloves are great examination gloves that are tear-resistant and transparent. These gloves are best for medical examinations or laboratory use. They are designed to be an inner glove worn under latex gloves, specifically for individuals with latex allergies. Co-Polymer gloves are powder free with a beaded cuff to allow easy donning and doffing. Co-Poylmer disposable gloves are suitable for ISO Class 5 or higher cleanroom environments.
Available in different levels of protection, Cut Resistant gloves are extremely useful in situations that require contact with sharp edges like glass, metal, ceramics, and other materials. The lowest level, 1, is primarily for protecting against nuisance cuts – paper cuts, material handling, or even automotive maintenance. Level 2 is best for use in construction, automotive assembly, packaging, and some masonry applications. Level 3 is ideal for light metal stamping or light duty glass handling and applications. Level 4 is perfect for metal stamping, sheet metal handling, glass handling, and food service applications. Offering the highest protection, Level 5 gloves are designed for protection when working with heavy metal stamping, plate glass handling, and other high-risk applications. To achieve protection, cut resistant gloves are generally engineered from materials like Kevlar, Fiberglass, or other high performance material. These are not disposable gloves. Providing the right protection to your hands is absolutely crucial in a cleanroom environment – both to protect from contamination as well as to protect skin from being harmed by chemicals or other potentially harmful objects in the room.
Preventing ESD In The Cleanroom
- December 29 2014
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) is a long standing and major concern within cleanrooms and the electronics, aerospace, and semiconductor industries who utilize them. The components in these industries are susceptible to damages caused by ESD, and as a result a lot of attention must be focused on ensuring a static-free environment. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what ESD is, some causes, and some ways to mitigate it in the cleanroom.
Image sourced from http://makezine.com/
Electrostatic Discharge is a sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects. It can cause significantly more damage than particulate contamination to small electronics. It occurs through contact, an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown. One of the biggest causes of ESD is static electricity, which is generated through tribocharging, or the idea that the when two materials are brought into contact then separated then there could be a release of electric energy. Tribocharging is what most people are familiar with in terms of ESD - it occurs through friction, like when someone walks on a rug, or rubs a plastic comb against dry hair. An example of this can be demonstrated through rubbing a balloon against a sweater or other material to generate a small spark of electricity. This little spark can carry upwards of a few thousand volts, but it only takes a small charge (30V +) to completely obliterate sensitive electrical circuits. In many instances, a person may not even feel the discharge of static electricity, though it is often accompanied by a visible spark. This can be devastating to work within a cleanroom, with electronic components that are extremely sensitive. As such, special precautions and materials are used to mitigate the potential damage that ESD can cause.
What are ESD Protective Materials?
ESD Protective Material attracts less particulate contamination to its’ surface than insulate material. This is because fewer charges are generated, or accumulated, on the surface and particles are attracted to charged surfaces. ESD Protective Materials may also be labeled in a variety of different ways, but most equipment falls into 3 categories; Conductive, Anti-Static, or Static Dissipative. One similarity of these materials is that they are all measured by surface resistivity units of ohms per square, with the exception of Anti-Static, which has no official resistance or resistivity.
Let’s take a deeper look at the 3 main categories; Anti-Static, Conductive, and Dissipative.
Anti-Static materials refer to materials which prevent triboelectric charging. This type of material is commonly found in the packaging of electronics and other sensitive products. Anti-Static cleanroom items are usually products like clothing, anti-fatigue mats, cleanroom curtains, gloves, and a variety of different wipes and pre-moistened towelettes. In these instances, Anti-Static products are used to eliminate or control static electricity. It is important to note that Anti-Static is not defined by a resistance or resistivity of a material, whereas Conductive and Dissipative materials are. Conductive materials carry a low electrical resistance, which allows for electrons to easily flow across the surface or through the material itself. For these types of materials, the electric charge either goes to the ground or to another conductive object through direct contact. All conductive materials have a surface resistivity equal to or greater than 1 x 10^5 ohms/square foot, or a volume resistivity of less than 1 x 10^4 ohm-cm. This allows a charge to be easily grounded or transferred in close proximity. Conductive cleanroom equipment can include products like shoe covers, cleanroom chairs, and even gloves and tape. Static Dissipative materials allow for an electric charge to be grounded more slowly, in a more controlled manner, than conductive materials and may be better suited for situations that require greater control over electric current. Static Dissipative materials have a surface resistivity equal to or greater than 10^5 ohms/square foot, but less than 1 x 10^12 ohms/square. The volume resistivity is equal to or greater than 1 x 10^e ohm-cm, but less than 1 x 10^11. In the cleanroom, Static Dissipative materials are generally items such as; curtains, nitrile gloves, nylon gloves, Mini & Micro CleanFoam, surface cleaners, and wipes.
Readying The Work Area:
While ESD needs vary room to room and industry to industry, it is best, when building an appropriate ESD work station, to start from the ground and move up. A floor literally has to be grounded, or connected to a sink with the potential to absorb the current, and only conductive or dissipative level of resistance materials can be grounded. When choosing your cleanroom floor, it is imperative to choose flooring that meets these standards, or else there is no static protection provided – even from ground strips or conductive adhesive. Flooring can also be tested by using an ohmmeter to determine the electrical resistance, and it is recommended to test and find exactly what your cleanroom demands are. Removing a floor due to inefficiency can be much more expensive than getting it right in the first place. To do this, make sure to match the properties of the floor with that of the work environment where it will be used.
The next step is to ensure that all individuals within a cleanroom are properly grounded, and this can be accomplished through special footwear or foot grounders. It is critical to properly match footwear with the floor where it will be used and the total resistance of the floor plus the person plus the static control footwear must measure below 35 megohms (35,000,000 ohms). Generally it is best to wear two foot grounders to prevent triboelectric generation through walking, but ESD shoes are a suitable replacement.
An ESD protected workstation is the next focus. This is where an individual will physically work, and they are constructed and equipped with materials and equipment designed to limit potential damage to any sensitive items. ESD protective workstations don’t necessarily have to be located in a cleanroom, but the same rules still apply. It is best to keep all materials and staff at the same electrical potential, and the workstation usually aids in this through construction with materials that are static dissipative, as well as a common grounding connection, and a way of grounding personnel, generally through a wrist strap. Through these means of grounding, the workbench reaches equilibrium with the electrical potential between the device being worked on and the personnel. However, depending on how sensitive the device is, this may not supply enough protection. For this, it is best to use additional ESD control materials, like ESD table mats, ESD floor mats, as well as ESD shelves and even ESD ready chairs if appropriate. To further reduce potential triboelectric build up, we encourage the use of ESD protective clothing and Anti-Static gloves. In Conclusion Electrostatic Discharge represents a serious threat to sensitive components in cleanrooms. It must be dealt with in a controlled and calculated manner that varies from room to room and the nature of the work. Make sure to do your homework before purchasing, otherwise it can be an expensive mistake.
The Importance of Proper Cleanroom Maintenance
- November 28 2014
When working in a cleanroom it is important to maintain a pristine, contaminant free, environment. The less well-kept a room is then the more likely it is harboring pollutants, which can distort the results of the work taking place within the room. Since these rooms are built to prevent contamination to an exceedingly small degree, not implementing a regular maintenance schedule can fundamentally interfere with the functionality of the room over a period of time. The best way to ensure your work space is pristine, is by creating a regular maintenance routine that is specific to your critical environment’s needs.
In this post we’ll take a look at why exactly this is so important, some ways to establish a regular maintenance schedule, and provide a general outline for thorough cleansing of all equipment within a cleanroom.
Why is maintenance so important?
Photo sourced from cleanroomtechnology.com
Regular maintenance is vital to cleanrooms because without a maintenance plan, contaminants will accumulate and put all work within the environment at risk of being compromised. It's not just limited to physically cleaning a room, but also ensuring reliability and efficiency of equipment day to day. A thorough maintenance plan will reduce the potential amount of unplanned downtime due to breakdowns and faults. Preventative measures reduce this potential through regular checks of the equipment and the room itself. A regular plan prevents the buildup of dust, vapors, and other airborne particles which equipment and products are sensitive to. Not only is creating a schedule of regular maintenance for a room important, but so is the exact way that it occurs. In fact, even wiping up a mess improperly can be a potential source of contamination. We recommend using lint-free, disposable mop heads, non-shedding wipes, plastic or stainless steel buckets, as well as HEPA filter vacuums while cleaning your room. Always make sure that you have the specified equipment for your room as well. Improperly matched products in rooms can result in the introduction of microorganisms into your environment, effectively contaminating your cleanroom.
Day to Day Maintenance
Photo sourced from cleanroomconnection.com
The most effective way to ensure your room maintains its day to day cleanliness is to establish daily maintenance routines. Regular routines, while working, serve to clear the room from particles introduced by cleanroom staff. Every room has different requirements, but the following are some ways to control the human component. Before establishing guidelines in your own cleanroom, first make sure that they are appropriate for your specific requirements. The following rules have been assembled by Roger McFadden, Senior Scientists for Staples Inc, and are appropriate for a Class 1000 cleanroom.
A regular schedule prevents build up of contaminants
Thorough approach to cleanroom maintenance and cleaning
In a previous blog, we detailed some of the most important aspects of cleanroom maintenance. That full post can be read here. Each room has its own procedures, which should be determined and agreed upon within your organization. Our suggestions are just that – suggestions. These are considered to be the best practices for cleanroom maintenance and can serve as general guidelines. Before beginning any cleaning be sure to check your cleaning products are appropriate for your specific controlled environment. Each class of cleanroom uses specific cleaning equipment and solvents. By not using the correct materials you put your room at risk to be cleaned ineffectively.
Since rooms are active 24/7, maintenance should be split into a few different primary actions – filter maintenance, equipment maintenance, and room maintenance. Let’s take a look at each aspects.
Filter Maintenance: Since air flows continuously through the filters in any cleanroom environment 24/7, it's important to change these on a regularly scheduled basis. Their heavy use causes them to be soiled much quicker than most equipment within the room. There are three distinct parts of the filter system that need to be maintained. First are the pre-filters, which need to be changed about six times a year. Next are the bag filters. These need to be changed out about once a year. Finally is the HEPA filter - the heavy lifter of the bunch. This needs to be changed out about once every three years or so. The first two filters need to be changed out more frequently, as their cleanliness helps to keep the HEPA filter protected. The HEPA filter is usually the most costly of these three, so it is important to make sure the other two are full functioning properly. It should be noted that these timelines may need to be accelerated depending on the location of the building. A system that has to filter out heavier higher levels of pollutants may need to be cleaned more frequently.
Equipment Maintenance: This refers to the machinery and equipment within the room. Equipment must be checked to ensure that it's working normally, and to do this may require a planned shutdown. With this in mind, it may be best to plan your filter and equipment maintenance together.
Room Maintenance: Room maintenance should be broken down into four different aspects, as rooms must be cleaned in a particular order to reduce the transfer of contaminants from one section to another. It is best practice to begin with the highest point of the room and work down. The order is ceilings, walls, surfaces, and then floors.
- The ceiling should be cleaned from the top down - generally using extended handle tacky rollers. It may be necessary to wet mop the ceiling as well. This is usually accomplished with a self-wringing sponge or a flat mop, all with extendable handles. When doing this, make sure to use compatible solvents. These include Deionized water, Isopropyl alcohol, as well as disinfectants and cleanroom specific cleaners.
- The walls should be cleaned using the hand wiping method parallel to the airflow of the room. It is best to use a dry, lint-free nonwoven or polyester knit cleanroom wipe. If needed, these can be combined with solvents. These are generally best as they are extremely low in particle generation and chemical extracts.
- Surfaces should typically be cleaned with hand wipes. In some higher usage instances it is more convenient to implement wipe dispensers. Dispensers work to make the storage and distribution of wipes easy while still eliminating waste and cross contamination. In particular, using wipes with a pre-saturated with 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% Deionized water are very effective for wet cleaning, when necessary. If ESD is a concern it is best to use wipes that employ carbon fibers within the knit fabric.
- When cleaning floors use a DI water and isopropyl alcohol mixture. Do not wax or buff floors, as this can contaminate the room. Generally, you can apply the same rules to cleaning the floor as you can the walls in a cleanroom, except using an edge-less string mop instead of a flat mop or self-wringing sponge. It is also highly recommended to use an autoclavable bucket and wringer.
- To make sure that your room continuously operates at maximum efficiency, it's best to establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) that fit your room. Train your personnel in proper cleanroom protocol and establishing a good housekeeping and preventative program to ensure that your room is held to its highest possible operating standards. Also make sure you staff has been trained with the best maintenance practices and create a regular maintenance schedule, which is imperative for any critical environment. Without such a plans and procedures, there is a high risk level of potential pollutants that can ruin the sterility of the environment.
Celebrating 30 Years of Business
- November 12 2014
We would like to give a big THANK YOU to our dedicated employees, vendors, business colleagues and customers who have contributed so much to the success of our business. The professionalism, integrity and knowledge of our staff have made this company exceptional. We are grateful not only for our successful years in business, but also for the great relationships with everyone we work with. We look forward in continuing these valued relationships and have high optimism towards building new ones. We stand by our service and are proud to be Your Cleanroom Supplier.
- Back Row: Steve Cason, Dylan Pickett, Bruce Wiseman, Eric Propes, Deborah Bame-Durrett, Zac Wells
- Middle Row: Teresa Oberg, Barbara Wiseman, Donna Workman, Monica Snyder, Lisa Armetta, Kristyn Henke
- Front Row: Donna Davies, Becky Wiseman, Pat Wood and Claudia Wolfe
- Missing in Photo: Garrett Wiseman
Keeping The Cleanroom Clean
- October 31 2014
Last month we talked about why the cleanroom was created – to prevent contamination in research or manufacturing environments. We looked at the history and development of cleanrooms as a concept, and we explored some of the different industries that utilize cleanroom technology. This month we’re going to take a look at how cleanrooms actually stay clean and offer some advice as to why, and how, to maintain your own.
A “Clean” Room by Design:
There are many different sources of contamination that must be controlled in order to keep a pollutant free environment. Some of the common ways to contaminate a room is through the airflow, which is why the HEPA filter was originally designed – to keep dust, pollen, and other airborne pollutants out. The second most common and controllable source of contamination of a cleanroom is the people that physically work in the room. The combination of strong air filter systems designed both for workflow and air flow help to control these sources. Humans emit an estimated 100,000 particles per minute when just standing still so it’s important to ensure that physical work processes are as efficient as possible. As such, in cleanrooms it’s best to contain similar activities to certain areas of the room, which aids in preventing unnecessary movements.
To help deal with incoming air particles the airflow in every cleanroom is designed to move in one of two patterns. The first uses a Laminar Air Flow Hood to ensure that air flows in a straight, unimpeded path, commonly known as a laminar flow. In a cleanroom this is also known as Single Pass Design; where the air runs through a HEPA Filter, is pumped into the room, and then purged from the environment without being recycled. This is ideal for use in environments that require less precise controls for temperature or humidity as well as smaller working spaces.
The second type of airflow is primarily utilized in environments that need to control temperature and humidity with extreme precision. In these rooms air does not typically flow in one particular direction. These conditions are best suited for a Recirculating System. The idea behind a Recirculating design is that instead of continuously sucking in air only to purge it out immediately the air systems intake air then recirculates it, as demonstrated by the image below. This system uses a laminar flow hood in combination with other nonspecific velocity filters to ensure that the movement of the air is not in a specific direction. The Recirculating design is also much more effective at handling large amounts of air than the Single Pass system, so this design is commonly found in larger cleanroom environments.
The last step in well-rounded cleanroom design is the gowning room, or the changing area for a cleanrooms staff. Keeping cleanroom garments in an isolated area is an essential step in reducing the level of exposure to outside contaminants that they may normally see. As such, it is best practice to enter a gowning room in a series of steps.
First, the employee will use a shoe cleaner to loosen and remove any particulates, and then they'll walk over an adhesive shoe mat to ensure that their shoes aren't tracking anything else in. Before ever entering the gowning room they'll pass through a HEPA filtered air jet, also known as an air shower, to remove any loose contaminants. Then, they'll proceed to the hand washing station, which is generally a no-touch hand sink to make sure their hands aren't spreading any particles as they put on their suits. At this point employees begin donning the 'cleanroom outfit'. Our general rule at Your Cleanroom Supplier for procedure this is pretty simple. Start with your head and work your way down. Shoe covers should be applied last, right before entering the final air shower, which leads to the workspace. Exiting the workspace is also a controlled process, though much less of a degree. The worker will exit through another air shower and then discard all disposable garments, like gloves, masks, or booties. All other garments, like lab coats that are not disposable will be returned to their storage areas. It's absolutely imperative that no aspect of the cleanroom ensemble leaves the gowning room as this could be a major source of contamination for the future.
Managing the Human Element
Despite the safe guards put in place by all of the cleanroom equipment, humans are still the largest source of contamination within a room for a variety of reasons. Skin flakes, oil, sweat, and spittle are some of the most natural ways for humans to infect a room – not to mention sneezing or coughing. Hair, both from the face as well as head can also be seen as an issue. To control this, it’s recommended to use a beard cover when necessary in combination with a hair net when appropriate. Most lab suits also include a hood to further prevent contamination.
Another potential source of human based contamination includes any cosmetics or perfumes that employees wear in to work that day. It should be established as a ground rule not to wear any sort of cosmetics in the cleanroom. No make up of any kind, any aerosol, after shaves, or perfumes.
As mentioned earlier, standing still can result in the shedding and spread of over 100,000 particles per minute. That’s just standing still! Walking at a gentle speed of 2 mph can raise that number by a huge amount – up to 5,000,000 ppm! The volume only goes up from there. In fact, horseplay like these guys:
could put an entire workplace at risk of contamination and as such employees should be trained to avoid a few basic actions. Employees should be explicitly trained to avoid erratic movements, leaning on any surfaces, writing on any garments, and to never, under absolutely any circumstance, should they remove any items brought into the cleanroom from underneath their garments. These sort of actions can be considered reckless and as points of contamination.
Rodger McFadden, the Senior Scientist for Staples, INC, wrote the definitive guide on how to handle the human element within a cleanroom. These 17 points have been reproduced in their entirety, and can be Downloaded Here. It should not be used as a replacement for any pre-existing guidelines in your cleanroom, but it is a set of solid recommendations that will assist in keeping your cleanroom as clean as it can be.
As you can see, the way you behave is just as important as the equipment itself. Knowing the appropriate way to walk and interact with your environment will ensure to reduce any potential contaminants from being further introduced to the workspace, but it’s only part of proper cleanroom operations. Designing for work flow and air flow make up another part, but as we will talk about next month, when we take a look at the art and process proper of cleanroom maintenance, there is still a lot left to keep in mind.
Images sourced from Wikipedia
- October 21 2014
In light of the recent pandemic spread of the Ebola virus into the US, we have received a growing number of inquiries concerning PPE recommendations. We are taking proactive steps to keep you informed on the proper PPE products. We have also provided informative resources to aid in preparation and prevention of the virus.
Informative Resources & Recommended PPE Fluid Resistant Products
NIOSH Certified N95 Respirators / Pass ASTM F1862 at 160mm Hg
ASTM Level 3 Fluid-Resistant Face Masks / Pass ASTM F1862 at 160mm Hg
Disposable Eye & Face Protection
Nitrile Exam Gloves
The Modern Clean Room – How It’s Made & What Happens Inside?
- September 29 2014
Throughout their short history cleanrooms have had a fascinating progression from theory to reality. The idea of contamination control transitioned fairly quickly from strictly medical use to the varied research and manufacturing we see today. Within a few years of its commercial creation, the modular cleanroom would generate 50 billion dollars in sales, but how did the industry get here? There have been several interesting developments throughout the process. For example, did you know the HEPA filter was a product created as a result of the Manhattan Project? In this blog post we intend to explore this bit of history and more, starting with a look at how contamination control has changed throughout time. We’ll even explore some of the modern uses for cleanrooms – an industry that’s only been around for the last 60 or so years.
A Cleanroom (or clean room) is a controllable environment that allows a tiny percentage of particles in the air to enter a room. They are used in manufacturing and research industries such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, and even medical devices. For perspective, a typical urban environment has around 35,000,000 particles per cubic meter in the range of .05µm + in diameter. An ISO 1 room - the cleanest of the clean - allows only 12 particles per cubic meter of 0.3µm and smaller. For each increase in ISO number, there is a parallel 10x increase in the particles allowed. Most cleanrooms for manufacturing are class ISO 2 or ISO 3 - with ISO 9 being similar to a normal room, but cleaner. A cleanroom continuously works to maintain a low level of contaminants; such as dust, airborne microbes, unwanted particles, or chemical vapors. The actual amount and purpose varies between types of classification of the room or sector using it. For example, the pharmaceutical industry requires their rooms remain strictly moisture free, but the technology sector is concerned with preventing or limiting airborne contaminants. Regardless of the industry, the main purpose for a cleanroom is to establish total control of an environment and prevent exposure to bacteria that may disrupt work or research. This means controlling the air flow rate, direction, temperature, pressurization, and humidity - all in the name of contamination control.
In the beginning there was Louis Pasteur - a French chemist known for his discoveries in the field of microbiology. Pasteur is responsible for the principles for vaccination, pasteurization, and for the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. He was the first to discover the significance between the world’s smallest particles (microorganisms) and their effects on people. It was Louis Pasteur who discovered that bacteria are responsible for the souring of drinks and meats. His work also provided direct support to the Germ Theory of Disease, which states that some diseases are caused by microorganisms. Pasteur tested and proved that controlling these organisms would enable us to control infection and prevent contamination, but British surgeon, Joseph Lister, was the first to demonstrate the practical applications of Germ Theory. Lister was the first to practice the theory by experimenting with antiseptics during surgery. Lister was the first to introduce carbolic acid to wounds to clean them. He also implemented this in his cleaning procedures for his equipment, and was the first surgeon to notice that washing his hands lowered the risk of infection for the patient. This became the first step in creating a contaminant free environment; however Lister only created and incorporated anti-septic sprays into his surgical practices for a brief period - from 1883 to 1897. While progressive for the time, his methods didn't prevent airborne particles from entering or infecting an area.
Image via Wikipedia
One of the key ingredients of a cleanroom came into existence during the 1940’s under a classified project, funded by the government, in part of the Manhattan Project. The HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filter was created during the race for the atomic bomb. The idea was to keep engineers safe from potentially harmful radiation. It didn't accomplish that goal, but the HEPA filter does remove 99.97% of 0.3 µm (micrometers) particles. These particles can detected by using particle detectors link. The 0.3 µm size represents the Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPPS), which is the most difficult size of particle to filter out. This is also the United States standard for filters allowed to operate in clean rooms. An interesting note about the HEPA filter is that it blocks fine particles effectively, but does not filter out gasses or odor molecules. As well, only in particular circumstances which require the filtration of particular substances (chemical vapors, cigarette or pet odors, or volatile organic compounds), is activated carbon (charcoal) used instead of / in addition to the HEPA filter. However, ULPA (Ultra-low particulate air) filters can remove at least 99.999% of dust, pollen, mold, or bacteria from the air. It can remove any airborne particle with a size of 100 nanometers (0.1 µm) or larger. These are occasionally used in combination with the HEPA filter - particularly in the pharmaceutical industry due to their strict requirements on moisture within the working environment. Following the break through creation of the HEPA filter the next challenge was to obtain full control of an environment. Air conditioning and room pressurization became considered essential in the effort to control the air flow of a room, and thus they were implemented, but it wouldn't be until the 1960’s for full environmental control to be possible. This came as a direct result of physicist Willis Whitfield’s design for the modern clean room. The heart of its success was that it controlled the previously unpredictable direction of air flow within a room. Whitfield’s design maintained constant and highly filtered air flow, which served to flush out impurities. Within a few years this breakthrough would generate upwards of $50 billion in sales throughout the world, as well as set the stage for the next evolution in technology. What was crucial about Whitfield’s design is, as mentioned, the idea of full air control. In the Whitfield cleanroom, when air enters the cleanroom, it is first filtered to exclude dust, smoke, or any other pollutant. Then air is continuously recirculated through the HEPA Fan in either laminar air flow patterns or turbulent air flow patterns, all aimed at removing internally generated contaminants. This all shifted the focus from what was already in the room to what was entering the room. Once mastery of the environment had been achieved, cleanroom garments and protective clothing were introduced to manage the human element. These items range from gloves, masks, and beard covers to full body suits. As the demand for cleaner and more protected rooms increased, air showers, personnel cleaning equipment, and other methods to further prevent contamination were implemented. These developments led to a several step procedure of how to properly enter the environment.
Where are they used? (Cleanrooms Power Everything)
Image via NASA
Having a near pollutant free room allows for a world of full of advancements in the fields of scientific research or manufacturing. One of the most famous cleanrooms is NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, contains the world’s largest ISO 7 cleanroom - known as The High Bay Cleanroom, with 1.3 million cubic feet of space. This enormous space was the engineering bay for the Hubble telescope - as well as the soon to be launched James Webb Telescope. Telescopes and satellites aren't all that’s made in a cleanroom environment. Most of the components that make up your smartphone, your computer, or your car, were also made in one of these marvels of technology. Virtually all medicines are created in a cleanroom and most scientific research happens within some level of controlled environment. Everything you can see or think of that represents technology was, at one point, developed within the confines of a cleanroom. The concept of a pollutant, or contaminate, free environment is crucial to the way that we live and for us to advance in the future. When considering what takes place inside a facility, it becomes very easy to see why the modular cleanroom is so important and prevalent.
If you have any specific questions or feel that we missed any crucial points then feel free to contact us.
Keeping A ‘Spring’ In Our Business Step
- April 21 2014
In 1984, Ronald L. Hutchins noticed that his pharmaceutical clients discarded gloves and other apparel after only one use. This began his idea of creating a cleanroom supply source in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. He started his business working from the family’s basement. Over the years, with great perseverance and solid business principles Ronald earned industry wide respect for his company, Hutchins & Hutchins Inc., Your Cleanroom Supplier. Daughter, Becky Wiseman came on board in 1988 and in 2000 found herself at the helm of Hutchins & Hutchins Inc. Wiseman says, “I can’t imagine doing anything else!”
We are a provider of cleanroom equipment and supplies. This idea is expressed in our well-recognized logo which was hand-drawn by no other than the founder himself, Ronald Hutchins. He wanted to portray the idea of an extremely clean, sanitary, enclosed environment. To do this he choose a color scheme of crisp, refreshing blues and greys. The imagery of the logo is a barebones cleanroom, illustrated through the use of clean lines and minimal detail. This impenetrable cleanroom is surrounded by a grouping of squares representing the particles of our natural environment. Along with the logo specific images are used to show snippets of the cleanroom process. While the subject matter of these has stayed the same, the overall look and feel has been refined and modernized to appeal to today’s customer base.
This logo and related imagery is presently found on the company’s website, social media channels, print media and local advertisements. This mix of marketing is kept up to date by a collaborative effort of Hutchins staff and 24-7 technical computer support team. With the coming of the New Year an advertising coordinator was hired to maintain the company’s web presence. Constant posting of the latest in cleanroom news, exclusive discounts and special product promotions keeps the company current and noteworthy. We also send out a monthly newsletter highlighting the recent updates within the company and its manufacturers. Another way we keep our customers informed is by physically handing out our company’s informational brochure and individual business cards. Each contains our modern QR code for convenience of IPhone users.
Becky has kept her father’s legacy alive and matured Hutchins & Hutchins Inc. into the thriving business it is today. Technology has exponentially grown over the years, providing an endless stream of up to the minuet communication, which she uses as a business advantage. With all of these opportunities to grow, this woman-owned small business maintains the vision and principles of its founders. H&H is full-service cleanroom supply facility complete with onsite cleanrooms, storage warehouse and temperature controlled room. Endless statistical analysis and monthly reports map out the growth Hutchins & Hutchins Inc. has made over the years, and looking ahead, our goal is to keep our progress on the rise.
Proper Maintenance of Cleanroom Equipment and Supplies
- April 14 2014
There are many factors to consider for the proper maintenance of your cleanroom and its equipment and supplies.
Before any cleaning is done, make sure you are using the correct cleaning equipment, supplies, procedures and knowledgeable staff. Each class of cleanroom has its own specific cleaning equipment and solvents. Use lint-free, disposable mop heads, non-shedding wipes, plastic or stainless steel buckets and HEPA filter vacuums. Improper cleaning tools easily introduce microorganisms into the environment, resulting in the contamination of your cleanroom.
Once you have the proper cleaning equipment, you need a well-trained and educated cleaning staff to implement the proper protocols and procedures for a successful, robust cleaning program. Establish Standard Operational Procedures (SOP’s). Train your personnel in proper cleanroom protocol and disciplines, restricting items due to their contamination generating properties. Establish and maintain a good housekeeping and preventative maintenance program to incorporate the work areas, as well as, the cleanroom ceiling, walls, floors and equipment. Establish and maintain an on-going monitoring program for both viable / non-viable and ESD. These will be indicators of how well your area is doing and alert you to any negatives that occur. Make sure to create a check lists so that nothing is overlooked.
Your cleaning staff has to have a basic understanding of how the cleaning should be done and in what order and fashion. Always empty trash container first. Clean all general purpose equipment outside of the cleanroom and then cover with cleanbagging material. All small metallic and nonmetallic items must be cleaned with ultra-sonic cleaners and inspected for any obvious signs of contamination. Use all sanitizers in the proper amounts, methods and for specific allotted time. Use extra caution when cleaning the delicate ceiling HEPA filters. Failure to adhere to these basic principles will increase the amount of contaminants. Cleanrooms are classified according to the number and size of particles permitted per volume of air, and 0.5 micron particles are the most commonly measured size. These counts are directly linked to the bacterial contamination levels.
There are four main aspects to a cleanroom, which require very specific, routine cleaning processes; the ceilings, walls, surfaces and floors. Each is cleaned in a very particular manner to maintain its classification.
The ceiling should be cleaned from the top down using extended handle tacky rollers. In some cases it may be necessary to wet mop the ceiling with a self-wringing sponge or a flat mop, each having extendable handles. Occasionally, vacuum systems equipped with HEPA filters are used. Always use the proper blends of compatible solvents, such as; Di Water and Isopropyl alcohol, cleanroom compatible cleaners, and disinfectants.
When cleaning the cleanroom walls, using the hand wiping method is often the most effective. It’s recommended to use a dry, lint-free nonwoven or polyester knit cleanroom wipe, which if needed can be combined with solvents. These are best for being extremely low in particle generation and chemical extractables.
Typically most of your cleanroom surfaces are cleaned using hand wipes. Consider implementing wipe dispensers to make the storage and distribution of wipes easy while eliminating waste and cross contamination. The use of pre-saturated wipes with a blend of 70% Isopropyl alcohol and 30% Di Ionized water is very effective when wet cleaning is necessary. If static charge is a concern, ESD wipes employ carbon fibers within the knit fabric which undergoes a multitude of special processes that include cleaning, scouring, cutting, and a special proprietary cleaning process.
The same rules apply for cleaning floors as they do for the ceilings, except an edgeless string mop can be used. For these mopping systems, an autoclavable bucket and wringer is highly recommended.
In conclusion, the proper cleaning procedures and products used to disinfect your cleanroom are the key to maintaining compliance. The staff and all who are associated with your cleanroom can greatly impact the contamination levels and therefore need to exercise all cleaning practices and most importantly maintain proper cleanroom programs to ensure the overall operation.
Our 2013 New Years Resolution
- April 3 2014
Steadily moving through late 2012, business was looking good. Sales were increasing from the previous year and our key personnel had settled into their positions with eyes focused on a much larger 2013 goal.
In April of 2011 we were awarded our first GSA/FSS Contract. By late 2012 sales on this contract were minimal. In November 2012 we submitted a bid for a large Blanket Purchase Agreement with the Veterans Administration. This awarded contract boosted additional sales toward the overall GSA/FSS Contract.
Looking forward with the potential boost to 2013, we began to focus on a plan aka Our New Year’s Resolution for 2013. What would be a better way to take advantage of our successful, yet unfocused points of attack than to hire a Business Consultant who could help guide us into the New Year.
Starting in early 2013, our new consultant had us working together on understanding each other’s piece of our larger business puzzle and how we could facilitate one another to work more efficiently. We have since incorporated a 3, 5 and 10 year business plan with legitimately attainable goals. This will help us stay focused on the current business tasks at hand and give us guidance to the next set of goals.
Our next step was to identify possible business segments to target where our expertise and knowledge in the controlled environment industry would be an obvious fit for new potential customers to utilize. Along with this theme of new customer recognition, comes the task of identifying new emerging markets like Compound Pharmacies to expand our target audience. With our vast line of products available we must still look at new possibilities and markets to grow our business.
Internally we are doing a better job of reporting our findings to the sales team for proper analysis. With guidance from our consultant we have since incorporated a new way of coding our product line by providing a tier system to similar products to help in the identification of growing or diminishing movement within sales. This is helping us recognize where we need to focus our efforts within our product line. We have also begun to use this same tier system on our customer list to help see where we need to apply more incentive.
With this new potentially growing customer base, we are aligning our many marketing strategies. We are focusing on where we need to advertise more and where we can scale back. Ultimately, we need to answer the question, who are these potential customers and how can we gain their business?
Our 2013 business year was a great success. We stuck to our resolution of hiring a Business Consultant who helped us implement new procedures and processes resulting in a 15% or more growth for the year.
General Cleanroom Tips
- March 25 2014
It is crucial to know what class of cleanroom you will be entering and working in. Follow instructions from an experienced cleanroom professional for guidance.
- Physical contaminates, such as; skin cells, dandruff, fibers off of clothing and loose hair are just a few that can cause serious problems in a cleanroom.
- Humans are generally the single, largest source of contamination in a cleanroom.
- It’s recommended that you shower the days you go into a cleanroom.
- Do not wear any hair spray, perfumes, cosmetics or colognes when working in or entering a cleanroom.
- Wear appropriate clothing under your cleanroom suits: no shorts or skirts. Open toe and high heels shoes should not be worn. Stay away from sweaters and any heavy fiber based clothing that could cause static electricity.
- Do not have any food, candy or gum in your mouth while working in or entering a cleanroom.
- Change or clean your shoes before entering the cleanroom. Use a shoe cleaner or step on the tacky mats several times, before you put on your shoe covers.
- Put your cleanroom gear on in the correct order. Head, shoulders, knees and toes! Start with the top, your head, and work your way down to bottom.
- Cleanroom garments can vary depending on the classification of the cleanroom you are entering, make sure you protect yourself and your environment by dressing in the appropriate garments.
- For extra precaution, pass through an air shower if available.
- Keep your cleanroom apparel on at all times when inside of the cleanroom.
- Replace cleanroom attire when it becomes soiled. Use fresh gloves, hair bouffants, and shoe covers every time you enter a cleanroom.
Area Businesses Working Together to Donate Cleanroom / Medical Products
- November 21 2012
Hutchins & Hutchins, Inc. has partnered with local trucking giant, REO Distribution, to deliver a variety of Hutchins products to Medical Equipment Recovery of Clean Inventory (MERCI), located in Charlottesville, VA.
Healthcare facilities produce a diverse and overwhelming amount of waste - over 6,000 tons of waste per day. Only about 15 percent of this waste is considered infectious, which means the remaining 85% is considered solid waste, including materials like cardboard, paper, metal, glass, plastics and unused medical supplies. Roughly 30-50% of what is routinely - and mistakenly - disposed of as regulated medical waste (RMW) could be managed as solid waste.
Why Does This Matter?
Aside from costing up to 10 times as much as solid waste disposal, the disposal of RMW involves the use of facility incinerators, which can generate a host of hazardous emissions.
The MERCI program functions at no cost to UVA. Throughout the week, participating departments drop off supplies in the recycling room on the ground floor of the Primary Care Center. Every Thursday, hospital volunteers sort through all of the donated items to ensure they are reusable. The items are then boxed and donated to several different humanitarian organizations.
How It Works
The MERCI program functions at no cost to UVA. Throughout the week, participating departments drop off supplies in the recycling room on the ground floor of the Primary Care Center. Every Thursday, hospital volunteers sort through all of the donated items to ensure they are reusable. The items are then boxed and donated to several different humanitarian organizations.
Supplies from the MERCI Program are used by local, national and foreign groups. Local partners include the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA, the Virginia Wildlife Center and the Charlottesville Pregnancy Center. We also work with medical mission groups such as Gleaning for the World and Christian Relief Services, who ship supplies to missions world-wide.
A Clean “ROOM” vs A Clean “SPACE”
- February 24 2011
A lot can be accomplished, at very little expense, by having your personnel incorporate a Cleanroom Manufacturing Attitude. Involve cleanroom disciplines & protocols along with establishing good housekeeping and preventative maintenance procedures.
Install Non-Shedding Ceiling Tile - The biggest and most costly concern you may be faced with, is installing a non-shedding ceiling tile in place of the existing commercial ceiling tile, which is a generator of contaminates. You may need to re-hang the ceiling grid to accommodate any possible additional weight. Do not forget to clean the ceiling grid before you put the new tiles in place. You also may want to install a sealed light fixture, with energy efficient ballasts, after you have cleaned the lamps interior.
Install Pressure Gages - Install pressure differential gages to assure that the space you are reworking is positive to other area of less concern. Use a 0.025 pressure differential gage and follow the manufacturers recommendations on “zeroing” the gage after installation. Re-balance the HVAC that is supplying this area if necessary.
Low Floor Air Returns - If you have only ceiling returns for the airflow, you may not be getting a good removal of the contaminates at the work level. Do a airflow visualization study to determine the differences and effects of both the ceiling and low air returns.
Clean Your Existing Facility - Clean your facility from top to bottom by first using a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner. Then wipe down the area with a non shedding cleanroom wipe using cleaning solvents that are compatible with your process.
Train Your Personnel - Train your personnel in proper cleanroom protocol and disciplines with items needing to be restricted due to their contamination generating properties.
Set Up A Housekeeping Program - Establish and maintain a good housekeeping program that not only incorporates the work areas, but also the ceiling, walls and floors. Create a check list so that nothing is overlooked.
Set Up A Preventative Maintenance Program - Establish and maintain a good preventative maintenance program for all of the equipment in the room along with the HVAC equipment supporting your clean space. Create a check list so that nothing is overlooked.
Set Up A Periodic Monitoring Program - Establish and maintain an on-going monitoring program for both viable / non-viable’s and ESD. This will be your indicator of how well your area is doing and alert you to any negatives that may be popping up. Create a check list so that nothing is overlooked.
The Value of an On-Going Monitoring Program
- July 16 2008
Keeping your cleanroom and laminar flow bench operating at optimum efficiency is essential. This means having an active On-Going Monitoring Program (OGMP) in place, either by internal personnel or by utilizing your Certification Agency on a more regular basis. There are many good reasons for this program to be implemented, the main one being, is that you do not want any surprises when your cleanroom or laminar flow bench certification comes due.
Rooms and Benches are certified either Semi-Annual or annually and it is usually assumed that everything is working fine in between these visits. In most cases, it is.
- Check Pre-Filters for all air handling systems on a weekly basis, either visibly or via the use of a calibrated pressure differential gage. Change these filters as applicable, not on a time use basis.
- Check and record daily, Room Pressures. (See ISO 14644-4:2001 page 14&15 for recommendations). This is the first line of defense in making sure all is in proper working order. If pressures are not as per design specification, this indicates an immediate problem, therefore doing this daily is paramount.
- Check and record daily, Room Temperature and Humidity Readings. A minute swing in these readings may negativity impact your product.
- Check and record daily, Non-Viable Particle Counts at work elevation in areas of concern. This will provide you with a trending pattern.
- Visibly check all wall, ceiling surfaces for any unsealed penetrations, seal with approved sealant.
- Check and record daily, All Laminar flow bench pressure differential gages to note filter hepa filter differential pressure. This will also indicate that all cabinet fans are in operation.
If there are no pressure differential gages in the Laminar Flow Bench, there should be readily accessible ports, to measure the hepa filter pressure differential.
With this program in place, in conjunction with good personnel disciplines and housekeeping protocol, you will be guaranteeing yourself that there will be no surprises at the last minute, thus keeping your room or bench operating at optimum efficiency.
Ralph Kraft – President R. Kraft, Inc. – www.cleanroomservices.com – Servicing Clean Environments Since 1977