A local designer and manufacturer of orthopedic products and implants is growing at an exponential rate which drives the need for higher efficiency as well as better utilization of their available space. Since all R&D, manufacturing, assembly and packaging is done in clean rooms, each of which requires a different classification, there are protocols in place to avoid cross contamination. As the products graduate from one phase of the operation to the next, employees physically transport the products from room to room on carts. The employee doing the transporting was required to change their gowning when going from area to area to deliver the products. This process is time consuming, labor intensive and wastes an untold number of gowns.
Advanced Equipment Company, Inc. was contacted to evaluate the process and provide a viable solution to help eliminate the lost time and expendables (Gowns, hair nets, beard nets, shoe covers). After two site visits which involved the entire engineering and production staff managers, the solution was clear. Only the personnel needed to be re-gowned going from room to room so why not transport the products from room to room without a person leaving one room and walking to another. It was determined that a series of air-locks cut into the clean room walls would suffice as an acceptable pass-thru for the products and their carts. This was not easy task as the company operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with only a few scheduled days a year for maintenance or improvements, all of which are during national holidays. The project was awarded to Advanced Equipment Company, Inc. with the understanding that the entire project needed to be performed in a 24 hour period with no possible extensions on time. The project was completed on time thanks to the quality suppliers we work with and our amazing installation crews.
Immediately upon the airlocks being fitted with interlocks and cleaned, they were put into use. The customer was very pleased to see the products traveling from classified room to classified room without going outside of the controlled areas and without an employee undressing and dressing twice per transport. While it may take some time to quantify the results from the project, there must be a huge savings in man-hours as well as expendables resulting from this project.