Roberta Burrows, IEST Secretariat for ANSI, ISO Technical Committee 209
Today’s announcement of the passage of the revised ISO 14644-1 and -2 cleanroom standards seems to require a bit more than a press release from the Secretariat. In serving with ISO/TC 209 since 1997, the “dash one” and “dash two” documents have always been in some form on my to-do list. Publication of the new International Standards marks the end of a long era, but the feedback we’re receiving tells me our work is not yet done.
First off, on behalf of the Secretariat IEST, I wish to thank the many volunteer experts that participated in more than a decade of review of the ISO 14644-1 and -2 drafts as they slowly made their way to the International Standard stage. This includes not only the stalwart Working Group 1 members who crafted the document, but also the hundreds of experts who reviewed the drafts in national standards bodies across the globe.
In attending the last meeting of WG 1 in London early this year, I gained a great appreciation for the tiring process of reaching “consensus.” Working under the ISO principle, WG 1 replied to more than 500 comments during the review period. Consensus does not mean 100% agreement by all parties, but entails a delicate balance of the interests of individual stakeholders and the wider public.
When the two standards are officially available later this year, the world will review the 51 pages and there will undoubtedly be questions regarding use and application. Already, we’ve heard rumblings that people don’t use the current standards correctly, and the revisions will just increase confusion. If progress stalled with that logic, we’d still be using an Altair 8800 instead of an iPad. Lack of understanding should not be a roadblock to incorporating newer technologies. Instead, it underscores the need for better training and education.
As we enter a new era in cleanroom classification and monitoring, it is vital that customers, suppliers, trainers, and regulators understand the new guidance. Within your country, I encourage you to find the cleanroom association represented on your ISO member body. Reach out to them to request the knowledge and training you need. In the United States, IEST (www.iest.org) is offering several ISO-related courses, including those taught by Robert Mielke, a US expert in WG 1 for more than 20 years. In other countries, ICCCS (www.icccs.net) is working with its member bodies to provide training courses that focus on the ISO standards and application-specific needs. One caution – beware of some for-profit educational corporations that pop up to offer “expert” advice. Our US experts have indicated that the revisions are not as complex as some people think. I believe it was Einstein who commented that if you can’t teach it simply, then you probably don’t know it well enough.
Yes, new Standards can create confusion. Yes, we each may not wholly agree. But it is vital to world progress that we make the most of what the Standards process can create today, and then start the cycle again for continual improvement.