Equipment Tracking and Calibration Management in Cleanrooms Automated with AssetPulse RFID Asset Tracking Solution
Do you know what equipment has to go to Metrology for calibration? Do you know when it was removed from the cleanroom and whether it has gone to Metrology? Was it brought back to the Cleanroom and if so, when?
Equipment Management in Cleanroom
Cleanroom management in a biotech or high-tech company poses several challenges, many of which, if not addressed effectively, can severely impact the company’s bottom line. One of the many challenges is facilitating the strict adherence of the calibration schedule for all test and measurement equipment. This means, not only ensuring that the equipment is removed from the Cleanroom and sent to Metrology, but also that the equipment is returned to the right location in the Cleanroom from Metrology.
Cleanroom management has very little visibility into this process. Several times, equipment may leave the Cleanroom, but is not delivered to Metrology in a timely fashion. Often calibration is completed, but the Cleanroom is not aware of it and the equipment is sitting on some shelf waiting to be returned to the Cleanroom.
Asset Tracking Solution for Lab Equipment Management in Cleanroom
A global medical device company faced similar challenges for several years. These problems were of course exacerbated by its explosive growth, thus exposing it to more severe consequences. Over the years, it tried to address them with process modifications and applying various technologies. With the AssetPulse lab equipment tracking solution – a combination of well-selected RFID tags, appropriate reader configurations and well-tuned asset tracking system, they were able to finally address the problems effectively. Not only were they able to get complete visibility of how the RFID tagged test equipment moved between the Cleanroom and Metrology, but they were proactively alerted when there was a break in the process – when equipment wasn’t delivered to Metrology in a timely manner or if calibrated equipment wasn’t returned to the Cleanroom when ready.
- Equipment movement from and to Cleanroom were monitored in real time by Fixed RFID readers
- Metrology doors/portals were instrumented with fixed RFID readers.
- Additionally, shelves that held calibrated equipment, waiting to be picked by Metrology were RFID instrumented.
The AssetGather automated RFID asset tracking solution alerted Equipment Managers that calibration was completed and that they could pick up their equipment at Metrology. Automatic tracking alleviated the shortcomings of the manual process involved in keeping track of equipment moving between Cleanrooms and Metrology.
In order to realize the full potential of AssetPulse RFID asset tracking solution it is very critical to choose optimal RFID tags. Not only do they have to be mounted on very small pieces of equipment including 6” rulers, but they also have to withstand the sterile environment of the Cleanroom. This means they have to withstand chemical wipe-downs and sometimes more rigorous cleansing. AssetPulse offers tried and tested RFID tags of different form factors and properties like the ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions and to sustain exposure to chemicals.
When it comes to High-Tech Cleanrooms, equipment might need to be sent to third-party calibration houses. One or more locations can be designated for holding equipment that is being sent out for calibration. These locations are monitored automatically and the Cleanroom Equipment managers can be notified when equipment is removed from these locations to be sent out. When they are returned from the Calibration company, the managers are notified, so they can go pick them up from those locations and place them back in the Cleanroom.