Tip #1: Internal ceiling height
Cleanrooms are tall. There is typically a 2’ high plenum over the cleanroom ceiling that holds HEPA fan filter units, lights, electrical cabling, and sprinkler pipes. That means for a cleanroom with a 10’ internal ceiling the top of the deck will be more than 12’ high. In addition, it's very common to locate the air conditioning air handler, humidifier, or dehumidifier on top of the cleanroom. Make sure you are looking for a warehouse/factory space with a 16’ to 20’ high roof. Keep in mind there will be pre-existing building beams, sprinkler lines, AC ducting, and electrical conduit hung below that height. While it is possible to build a cleanroom in an area with a lower roof, it can require significant compromises in AC, internal ceiling height, and layout.
Tip #2: Electrical power
Make sure your building has enough sufficient electrical power to accommodate the cleanroom, cleanroom air conditioning, and equipment you are going to place into the cleanroom. While it is possible for the power company to run more power to your building it can take more than a few months to get it done. There is also the added cost of new electrical panels and wiring to the building. Some equipment requires 230-volt, 277-volt or 480-volt service. Make sure your building has the voltages you need.
Tip #3: Floor drains
If you are planning to have sinks or other liquid handling equipment in your cleanroom you should look for existing drains in the warehouse. You will also need a drain for the cleanroom AC condensate. While drains can be added, cracking the concrete slab and running new piping can be very expensive and time-consuming. Another option is to use a pump system to raise fluids to overhead piping going to alternate drains outside of the cleanroom. This is also expensive and has the disadvantage of disabling your cleanroom drain system in the event of a power outage or pump failure.
Tip #4: Existing flooring
Most warehouses have basic concrete flooring. Depending on cleanroom classification, you will typically have to install epoxy, heat-welded vinyl, or industrial VCT flooring on top of the concrete. Make sure the concrete flooring is in good shape with no cracks, divots or plants growing in it. Look out for water stains as you will have to repair the floor and install a moisture barrier before the cleanroom flooring can be installed.
Tip #5: Large access doors
Good warehouse/factory spaces have roll up or oversized double doors to allow material to be easily forklifted into the warehouse. The cleanroom should be located close to the door(s) to allow large equipment to be easily moved to the cleanroom. Be sure to design large access doors in the modular cleanroom as well.
Tip #6: Conditioned warehouse
While it is not a requirement that you put your cleanroom in a conditioned warehouse, doing so will save you a lot of money on the cleanroom AC system and cleanroom wall/ceiling insulation. It is much easier to maintain cleanroom temperature and humidity control if the cleanroom is located in a conditioned warehouse.
Tip #7: Building roof
Make sure the building roof is in good condition and does not leak. If you are planning to locate the AC condenser on the building roof, make sure it can structurally support the weight.
Tip #8: Room for expansion
What are your company’s future plans? If a business takes off, you may need to increase the cleanroom’s size or move the cleanroom to a new location. Modular cleanrooms are easily expandable without disrupting operations and can also be disassembled and relocated to a new location.
Tip #9: Building permits
If you are planning to get building permits for your cleanroom, be sure to check if the building has sufficient parking spaces, bathrooms, and meets ADA requirements for the cleanroom addition. Often applying for a building permit means the rest of the building must be brought up to code. In addition, it is not uncommon for cities to require more parking spaces for manufacturing (cleanroom) space than warehouse space.
Tip #10 Landlord
Make sure your landlord/lease allows you to install a cleanroom in the building.
Author Anthony Chien has worked at American Cleanroom Systems for past 10 years and has more than 35 years of cleanroom experience.
Copyright American Cleanroom Systems 2022.
American Cleanroom Systems
23221 Arroyo Vista
Rancho Santa Margarita CA 92688