A CLEANROOM SOLUTION DESIGNED FOR THE 'CHAMPIONS LEAGUE' AMONG PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES
THE KEMMLER GROUP, BASED IN THE SWABIAN TOWN OF TÜBINGEN, IS ONE OF THOSE MEDIUM-SIZED COMPANIES THAT MAKE A DECISIVE CONTRIBUTION TO THE DYNAMIC ECONOMY. THE COMPANY HAS BEEN FAMILY-OWNED FOR FIVE GENERATIONS AND GENERATES ANNUAL SALES OF OVER 680 MILLION EUROS WITH AROUND 2,500 EMPLOYEES.
The Group's Kemmlit, a company based in nearby Dusslingen, was founded in 1967. In Germany and throughout Europe, it is one of the leading processors of HPL (High Pressure Laminate) panels; a material that Kemmlit has been using for 27 years. The company's core competencies include the installation of clean rooms, personnel airlocks and changing rooms at the highest level in Germany and abroad. For Ever Pharma in Jena, Kemmlit recently equipped the entire changing room area, personnel airlocks and pass-through cabinets up to cleanroom class B according to the GMP requirements.
Ralf Stahl, Head of Cleanroom Division at Kemmlit, gets straight to the point: “Such cleanrooms clearly belong to the 'top class'. Class B - as specified at Ever Pharma - represents the highest level at which personnel still have access to the premises. Above this is only Class A, which must be operated completely free of personnel.” This high standard is an essential requirement for the pharmaceuticals produced by Ever Pharma in Jena: the site specializes in cytostatics and medication for neurological applications. Such high-end products must be manufactured under the highest hygiene conditions
A MATERIAL ALTERNATIVE THAT SIMPLY MET THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE SPECIFICATIONS BETTER
Ralf Stahl continues: “This results, among other things, in the need to set up an elaborate airlock system. The changing alone takes place in five stages. After that, each employee has to go through two more locks before they can enter the Class B area. In total, we have equipped the site with no fewer than 25 personnel airlocks.”
“Of course, even in this part of the premises, the strictest hygiene must be ensured. Therefore, stainless steel was initially specified for the entire facility. However, it quickly turned out that Trespa® TopLab® BASE and Trespa® TopLab® VERTICAL panels were a better alternative.” Ralf Stahl goes into the details: “Let me start with the touch and feel. As a prelude to the working day, it is not very exciting to sit on a stainless steel bench in your underwear at 6:00 A.M.! One certainly wishes for a more contact-friendly surface. The visual appearance also offers completely different possibilities, although Ever Pharma has opted for white continuously, which by the way gives the furnishings a particularly noble effect.
Stainless steel may have been the norm in the cleanroom for 100 years, but today Trespa panels are considered an interesting alternative.” Ralf Stahl, Head of Cleanroom Division at Kemmlit.
However, Trespa® TopLab® is also available in many colours. In other projects, we have used strong colour accents, such as red, green or blue, as well as pastel shades. Stainless steel, on the other hand, always looks a bit like an abattoir and it’s hard to get away from this association.” “But it’s also about more fundamental things: a Trespa® TopLab® panel is incomparably simpler and easier to clean than a stainless steel surface. Strictly speaking, cleaning stainless steel is a real drudgery, and with the disinfectants used – mainly chlorine and hydrogen peroxide – corrosion is almost impossible to avoid. It is true that in this respect one can resort to the much more resistant V4A stainless steel. However, this material variant is extremely expensive, and the very high cleaning effort does not change anything.”
In comparison, the panels from the Trespa® TopLab® VERTICAL range are ideal when it comes to high resistance to chemicals and highly effective cleaning agents. This is basically due to the nature of the material, and is further reinforced by Trespa's proprietary EBC (Electron Beam Curing) process related to the surface of the material.
A TREND THAT CANNOT BE STOPPED
Ralf Stahl comments: “In the last 5-6 years, enormous change has taken place in the market. Trespa itself has been one of the driving forces behind this change, as the company has managed to establish an excellent position in Germany - and internationally - in the laboratory and cleanroom sector. This is certainly due to the quality of the products.”
Ralf Stahl continues: Add to this the fact that even those who I like to call 'stainless steel fetishists' have now recognized it: stainless steel may have been the norm in the cleanroom for 100 years, but today Trespa panels are considered an interesting alternative
THE PASS-THROUGH CABINETS: A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THE ADVANTAGES OF THE TRESPA® TOPLAB® PANEL
The special features of the cleanroom area at Ever Pharma include the integration of a whole series of custom-made pass-through cabinets. This is a development that was initially projectspecific, but has since been incorporated into the Kemmlit range. Ralf Stahl describes the special features of these pass-through cabinets:
“These are unusually complex components of the furnishings. In this environment, Trespa® TopLab® was not only far more suitable than stainless steel, but also extremely attractive in terms of price/performance ratio. Stainless steel could certainly have been used for these cabinets – but it would have been very complicated and therefore sinfully expensive.”
“The decisive factor here is the scope and complexity of the technical equipment that had to be accommodated. Added to this was the flexibility and precision in processing, which was available to us by using Trespa® TopLab® panels. The pass-through cabinets are equipped with a supply and exhaust air system, because here it is important to prevent the ingress of dust on the one hand, and on the other hand to protect employees from coming into contact with active substances - such as hormones - which are sometimes used in production.”
He continues, “Not only the technology itself had to be housed here, but also complete cable harnesses had to be accommodated and maintained. By using Trespa® TopLab® panels, we were able to integrate the technical components flawlessly and relatively easily. The same applies to the necessary inspection panels: they are secured by a practical clip system. A few steps are therefore all it takes to gain access to the electronics and air filter systems.”
“By using TopLab® panels from Trespa, we were able to address the technical challenges with elegant, function-optimized solutions for these pass-through cabinets. At the same time, we have spared ourselves the many difficulties we would have had to face if we had used stainless steel. And last but not least the cabinets could be integrated harmoniously into the wall construction.
"In terms of practicality and cleaning, the facility has fulfilled all the requirements - and it also looks outstanding, which certainly doesn't hurt.”
THE FINAL CONCLUSION: A SUCCESS ALL ALONG THE LINE
The project was completed in 2021, and the overall solution has since proven itself in every aspect, says Ralf Stahl. “The customer is happy,” he confirms. “In terms of practicality and cleaning, the facility has fulfilled all the requirements - and it also looks outstanding, which certainly doesn't hurt.” The establishment of the cleanroom area at Ever Pharma has also had a positive effect on Kemmlit beyond the project. Just recently, Kemmlit expanded its machine park for the processing of HPL. Against this background, the opportunity arose here to develop new areas of application for the TopLab® panels and to demonstrate their technical potential in a highly convincing manner. The integration of the initial project-specific pass-through cabinets into the general program shows that the versatile possibilities of the TopLab® panel from Trespa are far from exhausted.