Whether in microelectronics or pharmaceutical production, anyone planning a cleanroom has a lot to consider. For example, the arrangement of the different hierarchical areas with the corresponding cleanroom class, possibly different floor colours or the necessary change of clothing between the different cleanroom areas. A lot of attention is also paid to the flow principles in the cleanrooms. However, what is often only planned for too late or only as an afterthought is the cleaning of the cleanroom. “The topic of cleanroom cleaning is more complex than it appears at first glance. In contrast to classic building cleaning, special knowledge is required here that takes into account the requirements of the cleanroom, the processes and much more,” explains Elmedin Sabljica, Operations Manager for Germany at profi-con. The company, which is part of the CWS Group, deals exclusively with the professional cleaning of cleanrooms in the GMP and ISO area as well as with the training of operational personnel. And it has done this since being founded in 1985.
Typical mistakes during the first basic cleaning of cleanrooms
Elmedin Sabljica has been with profi-con for over 10 years and has experienced quite a bit in that time. When asked about the typical mistakes that companies make when it comes to the basic cleaning of new cleanrooms, he names his top 5 of the last few years:
- Basic cleaning before commissioning is not scheduled.
- Alternatively, there is far too little time available for basic cleaning due to lack of experience.
- No rooms for cleaning utensils were included in the new construction or remodelling.
- Furniture is not flush with walls or difficult to access for cleaning.
- Only the cost aspect is taken into account in the tendering process.
The last point in particular can lead to enormous problems, in his experience. “Cost is always an important consideration, especially in the current situation, which involves enormous uncertainty. This is precisely why I advise paying attention to the aspects that drive up costs in tenders. This includes, for example, whether the cleaning team or the provider is experienced and what qualifications the employees have,” says the Operations Manager. Classical building cleaners, who have specialised for example in the cleaning of office buildings or hospitals, often lack the know-how that takes many years to build up for the special requirements in the clean area, according to his experience. “We train our team specifically on slow and controlled movements, but also specifically on wiping techniques in the cleanroom,” he says, explaining the difference. “That takes more time at first. But it also ensures that the limit values for the respective cleanroom class are achieved even during the first thorough cleaning.” A time-consuming and costly second cleaning, which may be necessary with inexperienced providers, is thus not required.
Qualification of the cleaning team
It is therefore also important for him to take a close look at the qualifications of the cleaning team. Here, too, there are major differences in practice. On the one hand, it must be ensured that the German language skills are not only sufficient for understanding the tasks, but also for correct documentation. In order to be able to carry them out, the appropriate background knowledge must also be available.
And that often starts with the basics – for example, always cleaning cleanrooms from back to front and from top to bottom. The times needed for the disinfectants to do their job need to be known. At profi-con, all employees are therefore intensively trained and tested in theory and practice in the company’s own cleanroom academy. New team members are also assigned a mentor. The latter then instructs them on site in the individual specifics of cleanroom cleaning at the respective customer’s premises.
Short-term deployment possible thanks to know-how
Training in the company’s own cleanroom academy, mentor model, knowledge transfer, clearly defined processes as well as quality management and ISO certification for audit security – these are just some of the points which profi-con uses to prepare winning tenders. Because experienced cleanroom managers know how important quality and qualification are in this area. If a cleanroom is put into operation too late because the first thorough cleaning did not produce the required results or the cleaning company did not stick to the time schedule, this can result in considerable disadvantages for the cleanroom operator. When it comes down to it, all of this racks up far more costs than if a professional had been hired right away. In case this realization comes too late, Elmedin Sabljica can still offer reassurance: “We work 365 days a year, around the clock if we have to or at very short notice. Thanks to appropriately trained employees, we guarantee the agreed results even in short time frames.”
5 ultimate tips for thorough cleaning of new and remodelled cleanrooms:
- Plan from the beginning for a strategically located and sufficiently large space for cleaning materials and utensils.
- Choose consumables and equipment wisely: Also, the principle of “better more than less” is applicable in the cleanroom to a certain extent. When it comes to disinfectants and other consumables, pay attention to the individual requirements of the industry and your product.
- Work with a provider who can respond quickly to emergencies, such as a serious incident, and perform thorough cleaning within a short time with a team on site.
- When selecting a service provider, pay attention to their qualifications and experience – this is the only way to ensure that the limits according to EU-GMPLF and ISO-14644 are achieved.
- Make sure that the cleaning is thoroughly documented.