Cleaner management

Published: 13-May-2004

Martin Rowe, of Micronclean, explains how a new cleanroom has been an asset to its clothing management scheme

Micronclean in Newbury, UK, has just announced that its new ISO class 4 cleanroom is now fully operational. This is in addition to the ISO class 5 and ISO class 7 rooms. The expansion allows the company to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of customers in the pharmaceutical, medical, optical, NHS and microelectronic sectors. The project was managed by Scientific Lesser over two years at a cost of £1.5m. Soiled garments are identified, batched, weighed and then transferred to a new high-level storage system. They are then automatically loaded into the Tonello stainless steel barrier washers, which feature data logging of the process conditions including proof of thermal disinfection. Garments are decontaminated in custom-made 'positive pressure' driers supplied by Armstrongs. The cleanroom itself uses information technology provided by AAF to monitor the condition of each individual fan filter unit. After the washing, decontamination and folding process, all items are packed in the ISO class 4 room by an automatic sealing machine. The garments are then bagged in a 40 micron multi-layer co-extruded polythene film which gives good puncture resistance; a seal integrity tester confirms pack quality. Garments are scanned at both the sorting stage and at the final pack to give complete traceability through the plant. The garment identification label and barcode are clearly visible through the bag, from which most of the air is expelled.

Other improvements Micronclean have recently upgraded the Reverse Osmosis (RO) water system, which has a number of advantages over distillation and ion exchange processes. The RO water runs on a ring main – a continual cycle involving UV and filtration to 0.2µm absolute. The washers draw from this main for the final rinse of the wash cycle. The RO water is also combined with an antistat bactericidal solution. Softened water is used during all other stages of the wash cycle, also fed from a ring main.

New ISO class 4 room Micronclean has had an in-house microbiology laboratory since 1997. It not only provides a means of monitoring environmental cleanliness of the company's cleanrooms and water system but also offers an important training tool to staff. Every member of staff is required to increase their awareness of microbiology and the importance of cleanroom technology. The new fully air-conditioned lab is larger than the previous one, which both enhances the training facilities and allows the company to do contract microbiology work on a weekly or monthly basis. To enable Micronclean to build the new ISO Class 4 room and packing area, the stores have been transferred to a separate larger unit. The introduction of polyester undersuits will give a significant reduction in particles and microbiological contamination in the cleanroom. Micronclean also specialises in cleanroom consumables, cleanroom shoes and on site distribution of garments into wearers' lockers.

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