TITUSVILLE, Fla. (March 28, 2005) – With free assistance from the NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), a Palm Beach Gardens company was able to head off a potentially serious problem in its manufacturing process.
Anspach Effort manufactures high-speed drill systems for skull and spinal surgery and they must be sterile in order to minimize any chance of post-operative infection. Anspach Effort takes infection control efforts seriously and has set higher than necessary standards for its clean room facility where product packaging takes place.
Gary Riggs, manufacturing engineering manager for Anspach Effort, Inc., and his project team began documenting paradoxical spikes in one of the particle count tests in the clean room. “While these spikes by themselves were a concern more than a problem, the unknown cause was a worry because we felt an uncontrolled factor could take a turn for the worse and could force us to suspend our packaging operation,” said Riggs.
Riggs and his team investigated the cause of the spikes, but were unable to pin down the source of the anomalous readings, even after retaining clean room consultants.
“I was at the end of my rope when our CFO recommended that I contact SATOP,” Riggs said. Anspach Effort is a member of the Palm Beach County Business Development Board (BDB), one of SATOP’s partner economic development organizations.
“The BDB has been involved with SATOP since the inception of the program in 1995 and Anspach Effort is a long standing member of the BDB, so it was very gratifying to see them working together,” said Meri Mass, BDB director of marketing.
SATOP’s Florida center paired the Anspach Effort Request for Technical Assistance (RTA) with Harland Hyde, P.E., at AJT & Associates, Inc., a SATOP Alliance Partner in Cape Canaveral, Fla. During his 30-year engineering career, Hyde has designed more than 20 clean and sterile rooms for manufacturing and laboratory use. He reviewed Riggs’ data and questioned Riggs and his team at length.
“Harland made it clear that there was really only one path to follow to resolve the issue – never mind the source of the particles, just clean the air,” Riggs said. “He also advised us not to pursue other actions we had considered that would have drained resources and caused further delays.”
Hyde explained his approach. “The air conditioning supplies finely filtered air through typical ceiling grilles, which stir up the room air to prevent pockets of still air,” he said. “Because all the air returns are near floor level, it is likely that some of the warm air keeps circulating at ceiling level. I recommended that at least one ceiling return with a HEPA filter be installed, which was something Gary and his team had already considered.”
After implementing Hyde’s recommendations, all particle counts in the clean room are down at least 30 percent, with some down as much as 75 percent. “I no longer worry about particles in this area,” Riggs said.
“If my experience is typical of the positive results SATOP offers, I can think of no better place to start looking for expertise,” he continued. “I have found that effective consultants are rare, especially when you’re in crisis mode. SATOP offers real solutions, which is peace of mind of incalculable value.”