There has been a lot of buzz in the Cleanroom industry regarding design and aesthetics. While the traditional narrative says that a Cleanroom must solely serve specific technical purposes, there is a new narrative that emphasises on innovative ways by which the previously mentioned technical purposes could be served in the best way, leading to the best results possible.
Any manufacturing company, regardless of what it produces, must maintain a highly controlled environment that is free from any contaminants to ensure maximum product integrity. Up until now, clean rooms have been regarded as highly controlled working environments with restricted access where one can only enter with a sophisticated space suit of sorts. Personnel inside Cleanroom usually work lengthy shifts and are often deprived of natural resources like ambient air, ambient light and sometimes even ambient noise for long periods of time. Cleanrooms are generally coloured white or grey on the inside.
Because of the above reasons, Cleanrooms are often labelled as ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ and in turn, the number of specialists working inside Cleanrooms are decreasing at an alarming rate. More emphasis must hence be placed on counteracting the lack of specialists. Human resource takes centre stage and while trying to identify new ways to retain Cleanroom personnel, one needs to discover innovative ways to make the usually monotonous work inside cleanrooms bearable.
Enter design and aesthetics. ReinraumAkademie (Leipzig, Germany), one of the proponents of the latter narrative mentioned in the first paragraph, organises a yearly conference and push the agenda for Cleanroom sector to open its eyes and start to incorporate colours and designs inside Cleanrooms. In their yearly conference cleanzone, ReinraumAkademie also presents two awards for Cleanroom manufacturers. One for Cleanroom solutions on innovation, sustainability and energy efficiency and one for creativity inside Cleanrooms.
“Cleanrooms as main working spaces of staff require an aesthetic upgrade” says Franck Duvernell of Reinraum Akademie. It helps to understand the positive impact design and aesthetics may have on personnel working inside the Cleanrooms. For instance, if the walls are painted in different colours, it may help create/set a mood for working. Neuroscience studies have shown that different colours trigger different kind of emotions in the subconscious mind. Yellow stands for freshness, optimism and motivation; red stands for aggression; blue stands for satisfaction, harmony and equilibrium; and green stands for assertiveness and perseverance. Any piece of art (abstract or concrete) made with the combination of the four mentioned colours may create a more relaxed mood for the personnel to work and can also help reduce error rates, sickness rates and process fluctuations.
Additionally, to combat the issues of Cleanroom personnel not being exposed to ambient light, Human Centric Lighting must be considered. Light is essential for humans not only to perform visual tasks but also to facilitate healthy daily rhythm (light acts as a vital time reference for our biological clocks).
Research in this area is slowly picking up speed. One more interesting theories to ponder upon will be music inside the Cleanrooms. Though there is literature online suggesting music/sound should never be a part of a Cleanroom environment, the reasons they give are rather weak – personnel working inside maybe unable to hear alarms that may be triggered outside, personnel must concentrate on the work and not on music, music may trigger particulate matter (contaminants) inside the Cleanroom environment. The author of this article believes that only engineering and research stands in between making music, design and aesthetics inside Cleanrooms, a reality.
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