Cleanroom Design FAQs: Modular Construction

Question: What factors influence your decision to recommend modular vs  traditional construction?

I’m a big proponent of modular construction, but modular construction isn’t always the right answer. Every instance and every situation is different. One of the things that you have to do is analyze where your clean room is being built, and what the motivators are for you build that clean room. For example, if you’re going to build a cleanroom within an existing area and you’re going to build it within the limits of that existing area, then a modular clean room might not be the answer.

Now there are two things that I always do. Once I get to an ISO 6 classification, I always want to use modular components because modular components do not shed. Traditional construction sheds (drywall, metal studs, etc.) and that will create contamination. That will create contamination you can control in the less stringent cleanrooms (ISO 9 through ISO 7), but once you get to the cleaner clean rooms it becomes very difficult because every particle has to be controlled. But there are instances when you’re building a structure which utilizes two existing walls and two modular walls, and that’s always something you can do.

However, there are other reasons to use modular that have nothing to do with the environment, and much to do with economics. Once you’ve made a decision from a cleanliness standpoint and determined what classification your clean room needs to be, as well as where you’re building it, that’s when you can decide on using modular versus traditional construction.

One of the dominate reasons you use modular construction, aside from contamination reasons, has to do with financial reasons. A modular structure is considered to be a piece of capital equipment by US tax authorities. As such, it can be treated that way. It can be leased as well as utilized in an accelerated depreciation schedule, which allows one to write it off against a particular product or a particular customer’s order.

So there are financial advantages which often times aren’t considered when making a decision from traditional construction to modular construction.

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