This article looks at the evolution of the laboratory glassware washer—a staple in most labs. Remarkable is the tremendous amount of research and development that has gone into this basic lab appliance that most take for granted. If your lab glassware washer goes by the name of Mr. Smith or Ms. Thompson, instead of Miele, Lancer or Thermo, then you should continue reading to learn how this important and unsung workhorse of the lab has developed over the past 100 years to dramatically improve efficiency while meeting the strict demands of all types of lab.
Miele, who went on to become the largest manufacturer of lab glassware washers, began production of the first tub washing machine.
In Europe, Miele manufactured the first electrically powered dishwashers. Though laboratory use was still a long way off, the machines started looking more similar to what is used today.
In Toulouse, France, LANCER Industrie SA was founded as the first company to primarily manufacture laboratory glassware washers. Demand for the lab washer increased worldwide and LANCER began exporting washers across the globe during its first year of operation.
Customizing the washer further for laboratory glassware use, the manufacturer HAMO, who was later acquired by Steris, introduced the LS-76, which was the first laboratory washer with integrated drying and a thermal disinfecting cycle.
Making a huge technological leap forward, Miele introduced the first computercontrolled dishwashers.
The popular HAMO LS-76 was upgraded with the introduction of a microcomputer control system. This was the first laboratoryspecific model to have this feature. It enabled the control of cycle lengths, temperature and uptake of cleaning chemicals.
LANCER evolved its washers in a new way—how they are packaged and sold. They created a unique approach to their customers’ washing applications by providing customization of inventory systems (jet racks and baskets) and wash chambers.
HAMO, now part of Steris Corporation, introduced the Infracontrol microprocessor controller for washers, which added new features never seen before in a lab glassware washer, such as infrared communication and RS 232 communication ports. This advance allowed the washer controls to communicate with data acquisition computers for validation and documentation purposes.
With demand from the pharmaceutical market, LANCER launched the PCM and PRO range of washers developed specifically for cGMP industries.
Continuing to evolve offerings for the pharmaceutical Industry, HAMO introduced the first GMP-washer with an integrated PDVS, the first Real Time Process-Validation System.
Miele released the first “maintenance-free” conductivity meter in its new PG 8527 large chamber glassware washer, which was the first of its kind in a 24-inch washer. The most revolutionary feature of the new machine was its patent-pending integrated conductivity meter in the water circuit that introduced “contact-free sensing” to the process. The Perfect Pure Sensor meter detects residue in wash water. This control can be programmed to warn operators in the event that the conductivity in the last rinse cycle is out of range with set values. Then further rinse cycles can be added automatically. The meter is a contact-free device located in the water circuit that requires no calibration.
The large market for lab glassware washers worldwide, which is projected to reach $84.9 million by 2012, promises continued innovation. As laboratory infection control regulations become tighter and quality standards rise in every industry, washer manufacturers will invent new features to meet those demands.