NEW3S RELEASE                                                                                      JANUARY 2017

$5 Billion Cleanroom Market will be Increasingly Impacted by IIoT Technologies

This year cleanroom operators will invest more than $5 billion in new cleanrooms.  This is the latest forecast in World Cleanroom Markets. These investments include enclosures as well as the air treatment to keep air pure.  The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already being utilized in many cleanroom facilities.  However, the future promises radical changes due to IIoT.

Sensors detect air flow and cleanliness at various points in the cleanroom.  With the laminar air flow concept and velocities approaching 100 fpm a 30,000-sq. ft. semiconductor cleanroom is moving 3 million cfm. This air movement requires fans which use large amounts of energy.  IIoT offers a route to reduce this energy consumption through two options.  One is better control of the air flow in the traditional ball room cleanroom.  A ballroom cleanroom is one where a number of people in special clothing are operating the equipment.  These people are the largest source of contamination.  However, their movement within the cleanroom has recently been identified as being an important factor.  With IIoT it is possible to supply sensors which measure velocity at various points within the cleanroom and at the same time measure air purity.  By using variable speed fans tied to the measurement system, the air flow and energy consumption can be varied to maintain cleanliness with less total energy consumption.

ENVIRCO® offers a complete family of control solutions providing machine intelligence to monitor and control cleanroom environments of all sizes.  It features various fan filter unit control options from single FFUs to multiple FFUs organized in a zone. Multiple zones can each be independently managed by remote control from outside cleanroom.

The Vaisala continuous monitoring system offers: remote access, and scalability up to thousands of monitored locations, it provides customizable reporting for easy cleanroom certification and classifications. Other features are:

  • Gap-free and protected data records required in GxP environments
  • Audible and visual alerts, as well as alarming
  • Measurement of humidity, temperature, differential pressure, flow, particulate and more

The need for IIoT is even greater if the ballroom cleanroom is replaced by a series of minienvironments.   Robots rather than people perform the tasks.  Air flow requirements are greatly reduced. These robotic operations are only accomplished by the use of large numbers of sensors and sophisticated software to cause the robots to perform the delicate tasks required.

Some years ago, it appeared that ballroom type designs would soon be extinct.  However, progress in reducing the cost of automation has been slower than anticipated.  Nevertheless, with the acceleration of IIoT technologies the use of minienvironments and robots will continue to gain market share as the cost and performance of robots improves. One example of an improvement is a smaller cleaner option.  ABB Robotics has introduced an ISO 5 (Class 100) Cleanroom version of the IRB 120, its smallest ever multipurpose 6-axis robot. The component materials of the IRB 120 prone to particle generation have been modified to eliminate the potential for contamination of the manufacturing area and the parts being processed.  

IIoT extends to the management of cleanroom supplies. According to the latest McIlvaine forecast cleanrooms will spend $8.1 billion for cleanroom supplies in 2017. The cost of selecting, procuring, and storing large numbers of small items such as gloves, cleanroom paper, etc. is hundreds of millions of dollars per year.  Several companies offer automated options.  VWR has offered services in this segment for decades. VWRCATALYST onsite services help streamline procurement, optimize inventory levels and reduce administrative cost.

Presently several vendors offer individual IIoT solutions to cleanroom operators.  With new open software platforms, it will be possible to integrate and optimize these systems and to also include subject matter expertise which is of equal importance.

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