Carefully designed as an integral part of the clean room environment, the correct airflow helps to prevent and dispose of contamination and airflow visualisation is fundamental to ensuring this is correct.
A way of examining the airflow in a contained environment, airflow visualisation helps to diagnose problems such as excess contamination build up in one area, keeping your operations running safely and smoothly.
Tecomak are specialists in critical ventilation systems, and the testing and maintenance that they require. Undertaking airflow visualisation within a wide range of settings, our professionals have the skills and experience to confirm correct airflow and reveal problems to be rectified.
Airflow Visualisation – Find out more about our visualisation service.
Airflow Design in Clean Rooms
A clean room or clean environment needs to have the concentration of contaminants within airborne particles as low as possible – or even non existent. Used to ‘wash’ away the unwanted particulates in the environment, airflow is integral to the design of a specialist ventilation system, using filtered, clean air to push through and dilute or eliminate contaminants.
This is particularly important in clean rooms for aseptic processing. Requiring precise attention to equipment maintenance, any form of contamination can be lethal to the health care consumer and have a serious impact on the operation of the clean room as a whole. Here, high levels of regulation are maintained, requiring regular testing and validation of air supply systems, visualising airflow to monitor and correct.
Airflow visualisation is an integral part of the ongoing testing and maintenance of specialist ventilation systems, allowing an understanding of how the air affects contamination that may be present and the effects contamination may have. The ideal, or intended, airflow is constantly disrupted while your facility is in use and this disruption can compromise both the operations taking place within a clean room, and workplace health and safety if not properly managed.
So how does airflow happen? Occurring only when there is a difference in air pressures within an environment, air flows from high pressure areas to those with lower pressure.
Air pressure is controlled by either turbulent air – disruptive air that moves in disorganised and ever changing eddies, or laminar air – characterised by layers of air all moving at the same velocity. When it comes to specialist ventilation systems, laminar airflow ventilation offers the best standards in terms of cleanliness classifications – especially when it comes to GMP grade A and ISO class 5 requirements.
The airflow within a clean room may also need to be controlled in and around a controlled environment enclosure, especially as a result of operator movement. Operators are a primary source of contamination – from their skin, their hair, cosmetics and clothing, and any contaminants must be ‘cleaned’ away by the ventilation system immediately. These controlled environment enclosures will generally be zones within the room that are screened off, and which are served, via a grid of filters, by laminar air flow.
What Can Affect Airflow?
Airflow patterns are highly sensitive and easily altered by everyday occurrences.
Adding or removing furniture and equipment from your room can create or take away barriers to the flowing air, changing the dynamics, sometimes significantly, and creating eddies or dead spots. Opening and closing cupboard doors can also affect airflow, as can operators moving in and out of the environment, and within it. The planning of any furniture and equipment changes should take this into account, and new testing and airflow visualisation may be required, as well as adjustments to air velocity and repositioning of equipment.
As well as these, any obstruction or change in the space around the ventilation system air vents and air exits can create changes in air flow, as can heat sources that create convection currents. These should be kept in check by regular visual inspections.
Tecomak’s Airflow Visualisation Service
Offering a full end to end service when it comes to the maintenance, testing and verification of your specialist ventilation system, the team at Tecomak can carry out airflow visualisations for your facility to confirm design and performance specifications, assist in fault finding in areas where high levels of contamination have been detected and to observe the effect of operator interventions on unidirectional airflow in controlled environment enclosures.
Dispersing pharmaceutical grade smoke (Glycerine BP grade and pure water) through custom made sparge pipes situated in suitable positions around your clean room, we will digitally record airflow patterns and include an information board with a unique test ID. Where needed, a black background is applied to walls and floors to maximise the visibility of the smoke.
This video footage is downloaded to a portable storage device during the testing for immediate viewing, and analysis, as well as acceptance by your quality department. It is then saved to a DVD for inclusion in your test protocol, and a full test report including certification, qualitative assessment and recommendations can be issued.
Airflow Visualisation – Detailed visualisation testing to diagnose faults and keep your operations running smoothly.