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Clean room design in Costa Rica with Jorge Muñoz
The Central American Group: Hello and welcome to another installation of the Central American Group’s series of podcasts about doing business in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the rest of the region. Today we are lucky to have with us a gentleman by the name of Jorge Muñoz. Jorge is with a company that’s located in Costa Rica. It’s called Ingenya and specializes in clean room design in Costa Rica. He’s going to tell us a little bit about himself and about his company. Hello Jorge. How are you doing today?
Jorge Muñoz: Hi. Fine, thank you. First of all, I would like to say that I’m an architect. I have 35 years of experience in the field and 25 years of experience in Ingenya as a partner. We founded the company 25 years ago and, basically, we started working in some industrial facilities in clean room design in Costa Rica in 2000. And then we started doing increasingly more industrial facilities related to the food and micro-components industry. After this, we migrated and added it to the industrial facilities menu. We added the clean room design in Costa Rica and now we have about forty-five clean rooms in our curriculum. We’re also doing some pharmaceutical facilities work right now.
The Central American Group: Well, that’s interesting, but one of the things that I’ve also heard that you are quite prolific in is designing life sciences facilities. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Jorge Muñoz: Yes, that’s what I was saying. Regarding the medical devices and clean rooms dedicated to that industry and also pharmaceutical, it’s quite challenging because we have to coordinate the different trades involved in the design of clean rooms in Costa Rica. Also, we have to be very careful, to include an architect and to include those activities or those spaces in the program of the facility. So, we kind of integrate all the things that are needed to support the equipment requirements and the dock work requirements and the low return locations. This also determines the position of the furniture’s location in the business and things like that. So as an architect, it’s kind of a discipline that requires a lot of programming and coordination between all the people that are involved in the clean room design process in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: How does the experience in the market lead you to specialize in designing for the life sciences sector in Costa Rica as well as other high-tech industries?
Jorge Muñoz: There has been a lot of work-related to this because of our free trade agreements and our free trade zones in Costa Rica. They provide a good environment for the development of these types of companies. So, we started working first with a micro-component company that is located here since 2000. We developed a test lab in Mexico and then we performed a lot of projects here in Costa Rica for them until the present. We continue to with them and also, we started beginning in 2008 in the medical devices industry in Cosa Rica and continue to work in this sector until the present. We continue to work in clean room design in Costa Rica related to these kinds of projects. And as I said, we have completed between 45 to 50 clean rooms designed in our company. When I say clean rooms for manufacturing clients, this usually means that a company sometimes needs one or two or three big clean rooms in their facility. There is, for example, in the pharmaceutical field, the need for smaller clean rooms, but those are very small. So, the need is usually for one. But anyway, the market has been evolving in this direction and there are big companies that are here that need their suppliers located to be here in Costa Rica.
So, they need them to be in Costa Rica also. We are right now signing a lot of other projects for suppliers to medical device manufacturers in Costa Rica. That’s the evolution of the market at present.
The Central American Group: One of the things that I’ve always wondered, I’m not involved in designing or constructing anything related to this sector, but I know that there are several distinct types and classes of clean designs in Costa Rica. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Jorge Muñoz: Yes, this is pretty fascinating, the way you have to design the various stages of operational requirements. You have to perform, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, you have to put in the layout the different transfers, material transfers with the different specifications. There’s a way in and there’s a way out. The way you manage the waste in those operational areas, the way the people go in and go out. There’s a different procedure for the incoming of people and the way out. The gowning process is a very complex activity, and the degree process is also a complex activity. So, the way you get dressed, the way you wash your hands, the type of towels that you have to use, where to put a wastebasket, et cetera. It’s part of the challenge there. Also, the way you manage the different classes is important. There are, let’s say, five different classes of clean rooms involved in this process. And sometimes it depends on the product that you are going to produce. Also, it determines the classes required and the different layers of requirements or procedures that you have to perform as an employee. So, it’s very interesting.
Also, this involves the type of equipment, the type of materials, stainless steel, and things like that have to be used at a certain point without any other material. And these kinds of things are very fascinating. Also, the way you manage, for example, the layering of different garments. It’s also an interesting flow that you have to perform or design there. These things make it kind of a challenging situation.
The Central American Group: What kind of support beyond clean room design in Costa Rica for life science facilities do you provide? What additional sectors do you work in?
Jorge Muñoz: As we were saying, Ingenya is a company that has all the trades in-house. This includes the main trades, the main design trades to be precise. So, we have to coordinate between the, of course, architecture that mainly has the primary interaction with the client. But also, from the very beginning of the project, from the conceptual design, we have to coordinate our design with the mechanical engineers in terms of the sizing of the different rooms. This process will determine the sizing of the different support areas for equipment, location and ductwork, and things like that. Normally there are some, of course, there are some standard dimensions, but we have to coordinate with our clients to determine the way they will locate the equipment and the dog works and the different catwalks and things like that for maintenance. This is also the case for the moving of equipment. But this is part of our support. And of course, along with the mechanical design, there’s an electrical design, there’s a control design, there’s a BMS design, and BAS. So, this is kind of a continuous interaction between the different trades, and this is part of our support that goes beyond clean room design in Costa Rica.
The Central American Group: Can you give us a couple of examples of projects that you’ve worked on?
Jorge Muñoz: Yes. For example, there’s a good client of ours, which is Boston Scientific. We’ve been working with them since 2009, and we’ve been supplying them with our support since then. And we have done a lot of retrofits in the factories and also some expansions for them. And the other one could be Baxter or Bayer or clients like that, for which we’ve been doing some projects for them.
The Central American Group: Well, Jorge, this has been a very interesting discussion. I know that given the prominence of the life science and medical device sectors in Costa Rica, clean room design in Cosa Rica is necessary. And what I’d like to do now is many times people listen to our podcasts, and after hearing what our guests have to say, they have questions that they’d like to ask our speakers. How might somebody contact you if they have a question about clean room design in Costa Rica?
Jorge Muñoz: There are different channels, of course. Our website is one, and they can give us a call. We are always open to any additional project. And, of course, there are other channels. For example, Green Park Free Zone is one of our strategic partners in this sector, which is our site is www in Kenya. That’s Ingenya in English with a Y. My email address is email@example.com. That’s the way they communicate with us, or through Green Park, of course, which is, as I said, a good partner of those strategic partners.
The Central American Group: What I’ll do to make things easy for people is I will you have a LinkedIn profile, I would assume, as well, right?
Jorge Muñoz: Yes.
The Central American Group: Well, I’ll leave a link on the transcript section of the podcast to your LinkedIn page, and I’ll put a link to your website and list your email address so that everybody will have the information that they’re ready to be able to use to get in contact with you should they have any questions or any need for clean room design in Costa Rica.
Jorge Muñoz: Okay, great.
The Central American Group: Well, thank you very much for joining me today. I hope you have a very nice rest of the day, and it’s been a pleasure speaking with you.
Jorge Muñoz: Thank you very much.
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