al designers. These could include
features such as vision panels, push
plates, or other activation devices,
as well as magnetic locks and—
perhaps most importantly—interlocking
systems (air locks).
Air locks are found in entrances and
exits, gowning and de-gowning areas,
and material transfer locations. In all
these areas, it is important to keep
two doors from being open simultaneously, thus preventing air infiltration
from one space to the other.
The best door systems allow for
wireless interlocking of air locks.
Breakaway capability is another recent
advancement in cleanroom doors, allowing employees to push through the
curtain in the event of a power failure.
While this feature is not needed on a
daily or even monthly basis, it will be
greatly appreciated on the rare occasion it is required. Finally, low-voltage
remote controls should be specified if
possible as they provide a cleaner look
and are easier to install.
A door capable of at least 50 Pa
in pressure differential is needed to
maintain a tight seal and minimize air
leakage. Given the requirement to
maintain pressure differentials, doors
that seal tightly and cycle quickly are
essential to pharmaceutical process-
ing. A properly designed door helps
ensure the facility’s makeup fans can
satisfy the required amount of make-
up air needed to maintain pressure.
Another prerequisite in overall door
design is cleanliness, since doors
must operate in a pristine production
environment. Any high-speed door
used in pharma operations must also
balance the need for productivity with
The New Generation
Traditionally, pharmaceutical facilities use bi-parting doors made from
stainless steel or fiberglass. However,
many facilities are moving toward
upward-acting “roll-up” doors due to
limited wall space. A rigid-panel cen-ter-opening door spanning a 6-foot-
wide opening, for example, requires
approximately 3 feet of wall space
on each side when its panels open.
A roll-up door, on the other hand, requires none, since its fabric “curtain”
collects in a head assembly at the top
of the door when it is opened.
A new generation of roll-up doors—
featuring anti-microbial materials
and other cleanroom upgrades—has
come on the market in recent years.
These new features, coupled with
their tight sealing and high cycle
speeds, are reasons they are catching
on with pharmaceutical facility man-
agers. State-of-the-art high-speed
door models can move at up to
100-inches per second, minimizing air
intrusion while increasing productivity.
To ensure product integrity, pharmaceutical facilities require the most
sanitary operations and equipment
possible. The newest high-speed, roll-up doors are helping change the way
the industry defines “best practices”
when it comes to cleanroom and
About the Author
Jon Schumacher is the director of
marketing for Rite-Hite Doors. He has
been with the company for 20 years
and is a former vice-chair of the Door
and Access Systems Manufacturers
Association (DASMA). Schumacher
can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.