Current scenario of cleanroom technology in India

There are various changes which have taken place in last few years as far as the cleanroom technology is concerned. In this article we will cover two major cleanroom aspects; The Cleanroom partitions and the cleanroom equipments, as GMP is manufacturing these products in its own state of art facilities in Baddi (H.P.).

The major change in clean-room partitions industry in the past few years is the rise in demand of customization of designs/ sizes/ accessories and increased emphasis on quality and final finish or appearance. Further there is a rising focus on overall efficiency, energy savings, sustainability, and functionality of cleanrooms and its components. Due to the rise in focus on manufacturing of critical pharmaceutical, hormonal and biotech products in India, most of the up-coming projects are more complex and critical in nature in terms of cleanliness level, complexity of operations etc.. This has given thrust to the need of customization of designs as per the need and also to the introduction of newer materials for construction of cleanrooms.

The use of GRP (Glass Reinforced Polymer) in cleanroom construction is a good example of the change in material of construction for critical operations. This material provides excellent chemical resistance, scratch resistance, impact resistance and many other features like possibility of bigger return-air risers, service panels etc. etc., which makes it perfect choice for critical product manufacturing requiring frequent fumigation and cleaning with harsh reagents.

Another change is the increasing need for the customized design and pre-engineered partitions. Today Powder coated panels with integration of all utilities within panels are in demand. A big advantage of powder-coated panels is; all cut-outs for lights, diffusers, HEPA boxes, light switches, in-built return-air risers etc. is done in factory on CNC machines and channels are internally welded before painting (Powder-coating). This gives an advantage of better strength, non-exposure of infill and better final finishing. Another big advantage of powder coating is; better scratch resistance, chemical resistance and control of gloss level and same coloured accessories like covings, corners etc. for better aesthetics. GMP is specialized in manufacturing on these tailor-made pre-engineered partitions.

Few years back the cleanroom projects were done using normal progressive type pre-painted partitions, which are actually general purpose partitions and all cut-outs etc. was done at site manually. Even conduits are put at site. This was leading to longer installation periods, inferior final finishing and lesser impact/ scratch resistance of panels due to lower thickness of coating on panels.

The other major change in cleamroom industry is of cleanroom Equipments. The clean room equipments that provide solutions to contamination potentials and maximize usable space are in great demand. Coved surfaces, flushed/ smooth component transitions and smooth final finish of the equipments is also one of the major changes in product’s design.

Another major change in cleanroom equipments industry is the containment solutions (Isolator technology). An isolator; it is a device that provides a physical barrier between a Laboratory technician and a work process. This barrier is necessary to avoid any contamination happening to the product or human, which may result by human coming in contact with the product.

Day by day Isolators are becoming a major part of equipments in pharmaceutical industries manufacturing critical nature of pharmaceutical products i.e. hormones, oncology etc. These products have critical effects over the human and vice versa hence a strong barrier is required to avoid any type of contamination. Another advantage of this technology is that it is used for maintaining the required cleanliness class and conditions in a small area instead of maintaining the same cleanliness class and conditions in the whole manufacturing area, so it in turn reduces the HVAC and other running costs drastically.

GMP has grabbed this opportunity and has already started manufacturing isolators in its new state of the art manufacturing facility near Mumbai. This manufacturing facility houses the latest laser cutting machine (Trumph make True Fibre Laser 1030) and all other machines are also CNC controlled and are latest in terms of technology.

Our views about the Indian clean room industry are very positive. In cleanroom partitions; India stands tall for manufacturing of tailor-made partitions, pre-engineered panels and also for manufacturing of latest GRP partitions. All these concepts were originated in Europe and Indian industry has grabbed them very well. Countries like China still believe in mass-produced progressive type panels due to lower price advantage. But now customer is also becoming aware day by day and if the advantages of tailor-made pre-engineered partitions are explained well to the client’s project teams it is not at all difficult to get the due weightage for the tailor-made system. However even today the biggest advantage with the European suppliers is the “made in Europe tag” attached with their products, which still gets them some price advantage. However, this situation is expected to be overcome after passage of few years after more and more projects are completed by Indian companies in good manner.

In Cleanroom Equipments; India has a good standing in global clean-room equipments market as far as tailor-made products are concerned and enjoys a good reputation in terms of quality and functionality. But, in standard product sizes and bulk production China is leading because of low product prices, which are majorly due to inferior raw material and cheaper production costs.

However, with an increasing demand for the tailor-made products and increasing concerns of quality and reliability will be key factors which will drive India to new level as a cleanroom equipments manufacturer in the world.

There are many challenges being faced by the Indian companies today as far as cleanroom industry is concerned; Our products are very competitive in terms of price and quality in the global markets when compared to the similar European products. However China is giving hard competition to Indian products especially in standard/ mass produced products. The lack of knowledge among the users about the differences in the specifications of pre-engineered system and the standard system makes it even more challenging for manufacturers like GMP to promote the better value products in the markets.

Today the biggest challenge is the ongoing slow-down in worldwide economies and also expected saturation in Indian pharmaceutical industry.

However the global slowdown will help Indian cleanroom partitions and equipments manufacturers to find their ways to reduce wastage which in turn reduces the cost to compete with Chinese and other worldwide manufacturers. Further, in case of domestic market; replacement and modification market has opened new opportunities for cleanroom partitions and equipments manufacturing industry and the demand is expected to grow continuously for the coming years of this decade.

The government should take various initiatives to improve the sector in the country. As we all know the cleanroom partitions and equipments industry is majorly dependent on the pharmaceutical industry. So, any advantages given to pharmaceutical industry will in turn boost cleanroom industry. So, Government incentives to new pharmaceutical HUBS and SEZ should be increased, as Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers are well respected around the word as quality producers.

In GMP’s view the Government should also focus on developing some material testing labs and facilities in the Industrial clusters. This will be helpful for the small cleanroom and equipments manufacturers, who lacks their own testing facilities to get the products tested and for further development and improvement in their products. This gives another advantage for the end user/ customers; as they can get the material tested before or on delivery to get rid of inferior products which are available at a much lower price.

However, future seems to be very bright for the cleanroom partitions and equipments industry. There is huge market for replacements/ revamping and modifications apart from the new pharmaceutical project requirements, which will be tapped by Indian cleanroom partition and equipments manufacturers. However the rising competition and pressure on prices will remain the major challenge. Isolators demand and their usage will increase in coming years. The third world countries will be a very good market for Indian cleanroom and equipments manufacturers.

Technically strong and advanced manufacturers will have an edge over others. Companies with higher cost-cutting capabilities and stronger purchase departments will be more competitive in the markets. Tailor-made products will be in higher demand and hence companies with take this challenge and have capabilities to develop and manufacture tailor-made and innovative products will rule the market.

In nutshell the GMP’s view the industry’s future prospects are very bright and with this view we have started a new unit for manufacturing of isolators near Mumbai in last financial year and has a plan to increase its Baddi unit’s capacity to double by F/y 2016-17.

The biggest challenges today in the industry is the increasing competition, which is both domestic and internationally.

Another challenge is the acceptance of inferior quality of products by the client on the basis of price. This is majorly due to the lack of knowledge of the materials and also lack of testing facilities.

GMP is in continuous process of interacting and educating the clients with required inputs and this is helping the clients to take appropriate decisions accordingly. But, it is a continuous process and will take time.