Minimize Contamination from the Maintenance Shop

April 29, 2009
We’ve assembled a panel of plant operations experts to answer any question you have on plant-floor issues.

In a proposed facility where a highly microbial-sensitive product is to be produced, where should you locate the maintenance shop so contamination is not tracked from the shop to the sensitive processing area?

The issue here is not the location of the maintenance department but the procedures used when maintenance work is conducted in the processing area where the sensitive product will be exposed to maintenance activity. Most maintenance activity will take place when the process is down, therefore the focus probably will be on ensuring that the maintenance work minimizes the contamination to the production area. Well written and agreed-to procedures should ensure this area is maintained with a minimum of interruption to the sanitized area.

Locating the maintenance shop usually will require focusing on receiving and storing parts and materials prior to use and efficient shipping of used parts and material once they have been removed from operation. This usually indicates a location on the perimeter of the building. A secondary focus will be on travel time for the maintenance staff to the production area. This travel space should also provide a clean “buffer zone” between the maintenance area and the production floor.