Cleanroom production lies at the heart of numerous of the world’s leading industries. Many industries, including food production, pharmaceutical, medical, semiconductor, and solar power, require a clean industrial environment. Typically, the clean industrial environment encompasses the entirety of an assembly/manufacturing process, leaving only packing and shipping tasks in a non-cleanroom area. Alternatively, a manufacturer could opt to isolate only certain facets of the process as a cleanroom environment.
When analyzing a cleanroom conveyor, consider and evaluate its classification, initial and total cost of ownership, maintenance needs and technological changes, flexibility and energy consumption. In the content below, we discuss the five most important factors to consider when choosing your cleanroom conveyor system.
Evaluating the classification of a cleanroom conveyor system serves as the paramount consideration. Cleanroom class requirements in the United States derive from the number of allowable particles, 0.5 micrometers in diameter per cubic foot of air, ranging from class 100,000 to class 1 (the very cleanest class). This system is known as Federal Standard 209E. Cleanroom conveyors rate to a class corresponding with the appropriate cleanroom facility.
When purchasing or building a conveyor for any cleanroom process, make it a priority to implement a system with a cleanroom rating at least as strict as the environment for its intended application. For example, a conveyor with a cleanroom rating of 100,000 would be inappropriate for use in a class 1,000 cleanroom. Additionally, it may sometimes be wise to get a conveyor with a higher rating than is necessary, in the event of future upgrades in clean environment ratings.
Initial and Total Cost of Ownership
While deciding on your cleanroom system, staying within your initial budgeted costs prevents your business from acquiring excess debt. However, though initial cost of ownership serves as an important consideration when choosing your cleanroom conveyor system, examine also the total projected amount of expenses included in your conveyor investment. Allow your analysis to extend beyond the initial capital investment and installation costs by asking four questions:
- How will energy costs affect long-term return on investment?
- What are the preventative maintenance requirements?
- How often will the belt need to be replaced – at what cost?
- What is the expected lifespan of the equipment?
Answering these questions helps narrow down your options and ultimately select the best conveyor system choice for the long-term. As a result, search for a “standard” conveyor system that automatically meets or exceeds your cleanroom environment needs with little to no additional cost on the conveyor.
Maintenance Needs and Technological Changes
As you calculate and forecast any expected costs associated with eventual maintenance and repairs, consider also the types of maintenance and repairs your desired cleanroom conveyor system could require. With each component requiring maintenance, does the expense and level of the repair justify the reasoning to purchase your desired conveyor system?
To best forecast the necessary maintenance tasks associated with your desired cleanroom conveyor system, answer the following questions:
- How often does the system require scheduled maintenance and repairs?
- How easily can inspection and repairs be completed?
- What components or tools are required to successfully maintain and keep the conveyor clean?
Consider each conveyor component, such as the high-performance chain, belt and track. Are each of the components’ replacement parts easily accessible? Keep in mind – replacement parts with lower availability could result in paused or delayed production for your business.
In the event you later wish to upgrade either the clean environment or other technological aspect to reduce overall costs, assess if the conveyor system you choose is capable of modification. Additionally, it may be advisable to select a conveyor with a higher cleanliness class, such as reconfigurable modular conveyors with a Class 1 rating, to avoid later upgrades and alterations.
With any conveyor operation, especially cleanroom conveyor operations, noise can quickly become an issue. Although the maximum permissible exposure limit for noise set by OSHA is 90 dBA, a range of 50 to 60 dBA is considered most suitable. Unfortunately, noise is inevitable when taking into account all the working and moving parts that most conveyor processes involve. As a result, evaluate the generated range of noise from your desired cleanroom conveyor system, and assess if the application creates a suitable workplace environment for your staff.
Do the production needs of your industry suddenly change? Do you commonly encounter sudden innovation? If so, a conveyor with flexibility – such as the ability to be reconfigured like Lego building blocks – helps manufacturers meet the demands of new developments and manufacturing changes. Therefore, ask yourself the following question: How flexible is the conveyor system in length, configuration and the addition of accessories?
Reconfigurable cleanroom conveyors offer the flexibility and capability to withstand multiple rearrangements to continually meet revised production needs. Additionally, modular conveyors allow for easy adaptation of cleanroom accessories and components such as HEPA filters, tunnel enclosures, ionizers, and hermetically sealed entry/exit gates. Furthermore, adaptable cleanroom conveyor systems allow certain stages to effortlessly conform to sudden isolation or integration in accordance with updated requirements or cleanliness standards.
In terms of energy consumption, regardless of conveyor requirements, most manufacturers use the same, large, horsepower motor on all conveyor models. Based on each cleanroom conveyor application, reconfigurable modular conveyor systems utilize energy-efficient motors ranging from 1/30 HP to 1 HP. However, lowering the kilowatts used not only saves your operation money but also reduces total carbon emissions. Therefore, assess the size of your overall cleanroom conveyor system to determine the amount of energy consumption necessary for a successful operation.
Find Reliable, High-Quality Conveyor Solutions with Richards-Wilcox Conveyor
Installing a conveyor in a cleanroom can improve productivity radically, but not all models are suitable. From design simulation to customizing conveyors for your specific needs, we can help you through any step of the process. At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, our designs are engineered for innovation – radically changing with an evolving world. With numerous applications and capabilities, we find and manufacture ideal solutions for your conveyor system needs. If you have any further inquiries or would like to request a quote, contact us today!