The past four years at Brecon
The presentation of the new development strategy to the shareholders of Brecon Cleanroom Systems B.V. at the start of 2014 marked a special moment in our history. As a consultant, I had done everything I could to get an idea of the Controlled Environment market. I carried out competitor research at a national and international level, made a SWOT analysis, studied the entire range of product offerings and above all, I looked at what possibilities Brecon had to generate turnover growth. In all honesty, the latter was not Rocket science!
By 2013, we had been in business for roughly 24 years and our impeccable track record as builder of cleanroom systems was mostly based on the AMSL Campus in Veldhoven where we once began building offices. In the early nineties, unburdened by much prior knowledge and experience, we enthusiastically started our first assignment of building a cleanroom at ASML. Now, over halfway through 2018, we have built over 54,000 m² of cleanroom surfaces to the thorough satisfaction of this outstanding semi-conductor company.
So, up to 2014, we had had a few ups and downs and worked very hard to generate quite some earnings with only one client. This doesn’t mean that we didn’t acquire a little experience in other markets! With the well-known ASML as a reference, Brecon had begun to build a solid reputation in the Netherlands without even having a real marketing plan to base this on.
It was known among many facility managers and entrepreneurs that this company in Veldhoven maintained the highest standards for quality, flexibility and the timely commissioning of work. If you are able to realise such a high level of satisfaction for so many years, you really are a quality firm. That is why we also started to receive other work assignments from, among others, the TNO Delft, MSD in Oss and Boxmeer and Patheon Pharma in Tilburg. These and many other great projects were realised in the period between 1990 – 2014. But, the strategy to extend our growth beyond ASML still wasn’t in place.
To take a successful company in an entirely new direction with many changes in its daily operations, product implementation, personnel composition and management, (just to name a few of the recommendations established by me), was not only unique but also certainly quite exciting. A SWOT analysis can also be confronting when you come to the section on ‘internal weaknesses’… But, the shareholder responded positively and it didn’t take long before we went to work. As member of board, I was able to initiate, implement and supervise all of the further change processes for the new commercial initiatives. But you don’t achieve success on your own, only with a team of outstanding and inspired colleagues can you really create something!
The Brecon Cassette Panel System
With this blog, I would like to take moment to explain how proud we are of these new developments of the past year, and especially the BCPS (Brecon Cassette Panel System). It was quite exciting to conceive and develop a modular wall ceiling system from the ground up. Even more exciting was having the ultimate result tested by an internationally recognised organisation like the German Fraunhofer Institute. Because like the Opel commercial says, “We Germans don’t make jokes!”
Right at the start of the development phase in 2016 we decided that we would have our new system certified by the renowned Fraunhofer Institute IPA (Industrial Production and Automation). Our goal was to be registered in the data files of IPA as a tested and certified cleanroom building system. (www.tested-device.com).
In our actual Whitepaper which can be downloaded on our websites, we have thoroughly described how this process went. The IPA registration certainly did not occur overnight! Once we were ready, my colleague Frank Moelands and I visited Stuttgart in 2017 to discuss the process and everything that was needed to have the tests carried out. Co-member of the board Frank was already involved with production development at Brecon for 28 years and together with my partner in crime we conceived this entire BCPS product development process!
During one of our visits, we were able to take a tour through their high-quality cleanrooms. It was immensely impressive to see the approx. 150 m² sized cleanroom in the ISO 14644 class 1 in action. This classification may not mean much to many of you, of course, but try to imagine that in the air of a room of one m³ (1x1x1m), your bedroom, for example, where roughly 30 to 40 million dust particles smaller than one micron can be found floating around. These are air particles, smaller than one thousandths millimeter which you cannot see with the naked eye. Germs (bacteria, fungal spores, viruses) can be found on a part of these dust particles. Now try to image that in a cleanroom at the Fraunhofer Institute that number of approx. 35,000,000 dust particles per m³ smaller than 1 micron is reduced to less than 10 dust particles smaller than 0.1 micron! There are only three such cleanrooms to be found in all of Europe, which really says it all!
In April of this year we built a “BCPS test box” of our system for this cleanroom in Stuttgart. With a door, a window and a ceiling made in the kinds of finishing materials (steel and HPL) and two kinds of insulation materials (aluminium honeycomb and Rockwool). In July, after months and months of testing, we finally received word! Summarised in short: “suitable for high classified cleanrooms in all market segments.” How pleased and proud we were of this result! In September, we will officially introduce the BCPS building system with an expansive marketing package at the international Controlled Environment congress ISCC’18 in The Hague. How fantastic that we can verify the quality and suitability of this great system as based on Fraunhofer certification! This may sound like a whirlwind marketing text, but that is purely unintentional, I am only trying to describe a realistic part of our company history and my personal involvement in it.
Next time, I promise to write more about the phenomenon of dust and the dangers it carries. I often hear that people want to hear more about this…so I hereby pledge to cover this topic in my next blogs.