When planning the new construction or enovation of a cleanroom, it’s always interesting to think of the process as olving a Rubik’s Cube—and this quote
from the master inventor himself is on point. A
carefully designed and considered planning process results in a well-aligned facility, with all the
components of a cleanroom functioning well and
in harmony with each other.
Let’s take a look at some key issues that, when
overlooked, can leave a haphazard (but sometimes
colorful) mess in their wake … or at the very least,
disrupt the project schedule, budget, or the functioning of a new or renovated facility.
The site is an integral part of your project.
Too often project teams fail to start their planning
at ground zero—their site, where a surprising
number of pitfalls and hurdles can lie low. Do the
remnants of contamination lurk beneath the soils,
waiting to rear their ugly heads during the project
approval process, construction, or after the facility
Some colleagues of mine were once called into
a construction project to deal with the discovery of a buried railway car, filled with Bunker C
oil, that had been interred by an unknown party
many decades earlier. Time and moisture aren’t
kind to metal railway cars; the past oozed over the
decades, requiring a mandated onsite soil mitigation project—with the mountain of contaminated
soils off-gassing for months in the construction
zone before the regulatory agency would permit
its removal from the site.
Are there easements restricting your use?
Think beyond the typical right-of-way regarding
passage. Research any other types of easements
including drainage, utilities, or other deed restrictions. Other site features that can restrict or slow
projects? Wetlands? Protected plants or species?
Litigious NIMBY neighbors? Archeological
treasures? Old cemeteries or unmarked graves?
Unsuitable soils? Ledge? Zoning (including setbacks, lot coverage, and hazardous materials use/
Are the utilities adequate, available, or extendable at reasonable cost and within your project
schedule requirements? Will your anticipated
utility load require expensive off-site upgrades on
your budget (including pump stations and central
plant improvements)? Are the adjoining roadways adequate for both the quantity and type of
anticipated traffic? How about safe pedestrian passage—will increased traffic from your site require
pedestrian (or bicycle) passage upgrades?
Know, understand, plan according to, and abide by the
While many regulations are tied to your site,
today’s complex business and chemical environments mean regulations reach well beyond a
project’s physical plant and into a facility’s operations. Some of those operational regulations can
have significant impacts on your project’s physical
plant — one example of this is the storage and
internal transport of hazardous production materials (HPM). HPM regulations can vary greatly
between municipalities, and even from floor-to-floor. Integrating these restrictions with anticipated quantity requirements — at current and projected future production levels—will drive square
footage, adjacency, and layout decisions.
Involving your EH&S (environmental health
and safety) colleagues or consultants in the planning project from the start brings valuable expertise and insight to the team. While many of the
regulations the EH&S experts are concerned with
are operational, their knowledge of opportunities
and stumbling blocks gleaned from years of experience can influence facility planning.
Cleanrooms 101: What
Q:I’m about to help kick off a planning project for a new cleanroom facility. What are some key considerations you’ve seen overlooked on past projects?
A:“The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life.” Erno Rubik, inventor of the Rubik’s Cube
Katherine M. Everett, PE, LEED AP