ABC of Dry Room specifications/Vendor selection
The increase in demand for lithium battery manufacturing facilities has resulted in the need for many new high-volume lithium ion battery manufacturing facilities with increased time and cost pressures to get these facilities operating quickly and efficiently. Therefore a number of important and critical requirements need to be considered when selecting supplier(s) to deliver your successful dry room project.
- Start with an experienced supplier who has the ability to design and build a large, high volume dry room(s) to meet your required specifications. The prime supplier would also be able to help you to understand the cost-benefit options for incremental performance points.
- Ensure that the dry room supplier guarantees the performance of the entire dry room as a system, including the walls, ceilings, floor coatings, doors, HVAC, lighting, controls, and all external penetrations.
- Select materials and wall and ceiling construction that will integrate well and will satisfy local authority approval as well as fire rating, look and feel, etc.
- Build in a level of redundancy with a practical approach to its application. For example, some amount of redundancy is necessary to allow performance of routine maintenance on the dehumidification systems, particularly if the operations are 24/7 or if there is a significant loss of power that could impact a large volume of production. Separating the dehumidification system from the airborne particle filtration system might be a more effective approach that allows redundancy and a simpler path to upgrade for future needs.
- Instrumentation systems are just as critical and should integrate all the control and monitoring functions of your dry room into a single package that is reliable, accurate and provides important information to the operators of the dry room.
- Maximizing energy efficiency will significantly reduce the long-term operating costs of the dry room and your entire facility. Dry-room providers should be required to provide a detailed energy analysis for the dry room(s) as part of their package as well as offer equipment options, such as multi-mode HVAC system controls.
- Consider constructability, logistics planning and supplier's track record with difficult or unique installations. The successful vendor should be able to demonstrate to the owner via shop drawings, submittals, project schedules, risk management plans and experienced on-site installers that have "been there, done that" before. Field installation is not the time to "figure out how to do it".
- Develop a long-term preventative maintenance plan that addresses the critical nature of the dry room systems and will ensure continued functionality at design conditions for its entire life. Additionally, several critical parameters need to be defined when specifying a dry room:
- Process requirements: temperature, dew point, particles, exhaust, chemicals, ESD, future needs.
- People load and shift timing: access/egress, material, equipment movement, level of automation, shift times/breaks. • Machine loads: heat, exhaust, chemicals, noise levels, automation, penetrations for utilities.
- Energy consumption: HVAC, lighting, utility costs, variety of available utilities (electricity, gas, chilled water, steam).
- Recovery requirements after an event: redundancy, backup power, chilled water.
- Controls integration (dehumidifier, refrigeration, air handling, and building automation). • Cost of malfunction or downtime: training, preventive maintenance, field service.
- Building integrity: occupancy class, floor condition, ceiling loads, existing utilities, grounding.
- External environment: climate, local codes, seismic zone, access to various utility providers.
- Managing change: tighter specs, lower operating expenses, modular design.
- Integrated design and delivery: including spec validation, commissioning, formal acceptance validation, training, field service and services after the sale. In summary, high volume lithium ion battery manufacturing requires one of the most critically controlled process environments in order to be successful.
The learning curve is very steep and mistakes can be costly in terms of product quality, productivity and energy costs, and can result in severe damage to the equipment and injuries to workers. A wise course is to work with dry room providers who will include all of the necessary services and will also provide the support, training and track record of long-term success in not only the-design, but the full integration, delivery and ongoing support of your largest equipment investment.