Contactless authentication solutions for cleanroom environments

Special hygiene and safety requirements prevail in cleanrooms. Even the smallest amount of particles in the air can cause contamination or impair the quality of the work results. In addition, people, machines and data must be protected in these sensitive areas. Therefore, cleanrooms may only be entered by authorized and trained persons. To control access and entry, contactless authentication solutions with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) or mobile technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) are the right choice. Selecting the right reader is especially important for cleanrooms. Find out which four criteria need to be considered.

The greatest risk of contamination in cleanrooms comes from people, so hygiene is the top priority. Employees must therefore be specially trained to work in these areas. In addition, cleanrooms may only be entered with special protective clothing. Another key challenge is system security: machines, systems and peripheral equipment as well as sensitive data must be effectively protected against unauthorized access. Companies operating cleanrooms must therefore ensure that only authorized persons have access to cleanrooms and inventory.

For this, a modern user authentication and access control system based on radio frequency identification (RFID), which also allows the use of mobile credentials, offers a simple and secure solution. If the work environment also requires strong two-factor authentication, RFID can be used in conjunction with biometric or password systems. User authentication is contactless and thus hygienic, and smartphones or wearables can be used as identification media in addition to employee badges.

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Four criteria for choosing the right reader

Universal readers are at the heart of a modern access control system. Especially for use in cleanroom conditions, they must meet specific requirements—and also ensure that legal standards are met. The following aspects must be considered when making a selection.

  • Hygiene: In cleanrooms, it is recommended to use readers with a stainless steel and glass housing. These materials withstand the strict cleaning and hygiene requirements of cleanroom environments. Conventional readers with plastic housings, on the other hand, can be damaged if regularly treated with disinfectants or aggressive cleaning agents. A damaged housing poses the risk of released particles contaminating the cleanroom.
  • Security: The readers used must be equipped against both physical tampering and hacking attacks and support advanced encryption. In this way, they provide the necessary level of security to control access to premises as well as computer networks and software systems, and to restrict access to authorized staff. Last but not least, employees must be protected by access control. After all, cleanrooms involve working with materials that can pose a significant health hazard if used improperly.
  • Flexibility: Companies with multiple locations or existing user authentication and access control systems should rely on universal readers that are certified for worldwide use and support a wide range of technologies. A good choice, for example, are reader models from Elatec with which an all-in-one solution can be easily implemented: they allow all transponder technologies currently used in the company and those that will be used in the future to be processed.
  • Future-proofing: It is advisable to implement readers that have an open programming interface. This ensures that the devices are as adaptable as possible to changing requirements and are future-proof, because updates and upgrades can be carried out at any time. It is important that updates and upgrades can be realized remotely. This avoids the need for technicians to laboriously remove, adjust and reinstall each individual device. In addition, readers should be programmable to enable specific functions for sophisticated PC logon software and support mobile access control technologies.

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