The great variety in industries that can be worked on with cleanrooms, is a draw for many to work in the specialism. Senior Business Development Manager for Stancold, Mark Kendrick, explains how the recently launched cleanroom division at the company came to be and how his team and the sector are continuing to respond and adapt
As specialists in the design, supply and installation of coldrooms, hygienic food-safe environments, industrial fire-rated partitions and cleanrooms and founded in 1946, Stancold have been around the block a few times. After five years working on challenging cleanroom projects, Stancold has at last formally launched its cleanroom division. At the heart of this team is Mark Kendrick, who is a Senior Business Development Manager for the UK-based company.
Prior to working at Stancold, Kendrick worked for sister company Gilcrest Manufacturing, who introduced him to cleanrooms as suppliers of composite panel manufacturers.
Speaking about what he thinks is special about the cleanroom sector, Kendrick says: "[It is] the intricacy in their makeup - they require a different technique to traditional panel build projects. There's so much scope within the industry."
Kendrick also talks about the variety that the work provides. "It's great to work across the pharmaceutical, aerospace, high-end manufacturing, nuclear industries as there is always growth/innovation on the horizon," he enthuses.
It seemed fitting that our cleanroom division should be recognised
This is the characteristic that Kendrick and Stancold are keen to capitalise on with the formalised division. But it was a direction that happened naturally over time. "Over the years, our innovative approach, combined with strong technical problem-solving skills, meant that we were constantly relied upon by clients to fulfil more and more technically challenging projects, from test chambers in California to partition walls in nuclear warhead commissioning plants." Kendrick explains.
To reach this day Kendrick explains that the focus was on understanding the additional layers of technicality and attention-to-detail that such projects would require.
"For over 5 years, Stancold have had a dedicated cleanroom division who have completed many challenging GMP cleanroom projects for pharmaceutical, aerospace and laboratory applications with demanding classifications including ISO Class 5, CL3 and ATEX-rated," Kendrick says. "As we take on some of our most technically demanding projects ever, it seemed fitting that our cleanroom division should be recognised more so as their own distinct entity within the overarching Stancold group. It made sense to align our marketing and branding to reflect our unique position within the marketplace.
With traditional installation solutions there is often a reliance on onsite ‘wet trades’
Is this blossoming division, Kendrick has been a key part of growth. Getting CTCB-I Certified Cleanroom Construction by the Cleanroom Testing & Certification Board further solidified his knowledge and expertise. This experience also boosts his ability to problem solve, which he states is his favourite part of the job. "[I really enjoy] using my problem-solving skills when it comes to the architectural specification of cleanrooms," he says. "I enjoy assisting them throughout the early stages of the project to ensure that it meets the specifications they require/what they want."
Something Kendrick is particularly specialist in is modern modular methods. "[These] are becoming an increasingly effective method of cleanroom envelope development and construction going forward."
When Kendrick compares these newer methods to traditional installation solutions where there was often a reliance on onsite 'wet trades', he says that MMC greatly improves the efficiency of the installation process. Specifically, he talks about how materials are manufactured offsite beforehand, allowing for a much shorter build time.
Modular techniques are not only beneficial for timelines. Kendrick is also enthusiastic about the benefits for the environmental side. "As a method of modular construction, building cleanroom envelopes using composite panel systems is a way of future-proofing a client's business and aiding their sustainability efforts in the long run," he explains. "Using such methods of construction allows for reconfiguration at any time, whether that be for expansion, relocation or refurbishment. If you no longer require the structure altogether, the panels we use are 100% recyclable, so there is no reason to worry about long-term waste."
'Being green' isn't just about recycling and energy efficiency, the concept of reuse is also a critical change in people's mentalities. "As cleanroom envelope specialists, we have considerable experience working clients to undertake a large variety of onsite amendments and remedial works," Kendrick says.
It’s great to work across many industries as there is always growth on the horizon trades’
As a team, Stancold was also an integral part of the internal fit-out for the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, located in Coventry. The project took into account a lot of greener measures that Kendrick is especially excited to see come to fruition. "[There is] pride in ourselves in being able to construct environments that suit the demanding specifications that such sensitive processes require," he says. "We are delighted to play our part in the UK's rapid development of battery manufacturing in an effort to achieve a low carbon economy. It'll be especially exciting to see how plans for new gigaplants, to facilitate high-volume manufacture of lithium battery technology suitable for the automotive industry and beyond, come to fruition.
The trends in cleanroom demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are huge in variety. Kendrick has seen these first hand in his role. "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in demand for high specification cleanrooms and containment labs," he explains. "These environments largely consist of vaccine development facilities, PPE manufacturing areas and testing centres. Most recently, we constructed three CL2 laboratories within a major COVID testing area in the South West of England."
Kendrick goes on to explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably had a huge impact on his industry and the specification of facilities that are now required. "Our clients within the pharmaceutical and medical industries, in particular, have had urgent requirements for new facilities to cope with the new challenges they now face.
‘Being green’ isn’t just about recycling and energy efficiency
This includes expansion works for the NHS Nightingale Hospital and PPE manufacturers across the country," he explains.
These demands have been a huge opportunity but also a challenge for those trying to work in the cleanroom sector. "Our team have really stepped up to meet the new challenges that current projects present," Kendrick says. "One of our proudest accomplishments throughout the pandemic is our work on a vast speciality vaccine production centre in Scotland. Although the project has only just begun, our team have worked extremely hard to meet very tight timescales."
This increased amount of projects on a very tight timescale enforced by emergency circumstances has really underscored one of the key lessons Kendrick has learnt throughout his career. "The importance of having a good team around you is paramount to success. In order to successfully complete projects and please clients the whole team needs to be in sync," he enthuses.
This dedication despite the difficulties placed on them is what fills Kendrick with even more pride. The way the company operates has adapted well also. "It's affected us all in many different ways, both personally and at work. Virtual design meetings with clients have allowed our projects to continue to development," he says. "As an essential business we've also been fortunate enough to be able to conduct our work with minimal disruption to our clients."