Many labs today rely on glassware washers, as they ensure consistent cleaning of critical labware, free up technician time for more value-added work, and provide assurance and validation in regulated industries. “Generally, the more critical the research, the more likely it will employ an automated washing process,” observes Ken Austin, who manages Miele Professional’s (Princeton, NJ) laboratory division.
Efficient cleaning is a function of cycle time, wash temperature, mechanical action, and cleaning agents. The ideal combination is high water throughput at relatively gentle spray pressure, sufficiently high temperature, a spray pattern that reaches the entire wash load, and selection of cleaning agents suitable for the task.
Because of the heavy demands placed on cleanliness and the unusual form figures of labware, unmodified household dishwashers are not suitable for laboratory use. For example, the pump in a high-end under-counter glassware washer is rated at a minimum of 100 gallons per minute, compared with 25 to 30 gallons per minute on a home washer. Cycling time for lab units is longer; holders and baskets are customized for lab equipment; and the final rinse uses heated, recirculated, deionized water instead of tap water. Some lab-designed machines employ bottom-heating for drying, as do kitchen units, but high-end washers employ forced HEPA-filtered air. Many kitchen models lack a pump powerful enough to provide effective wash coverage; others with more robust pumps cause glassware to launch and break,” Austin adds.
Factors to consider include type of labware and residues being cleaned, throughput (pieces per day), and current wash methods.
Labs operating in regulated industries, or those that come in contact with the legal system, should consider automated controls that verify and validate cleaning cycles, from initial wash through drying. The ultimate machines of this type are validated to pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Practices.
Austin says a trend he sees is the use of individual lab washers in facilities where a central wash room had been the norm. The interplay between centralized and individual lab washing involves the general aversion to washing glassware. But central washers often do not thoroughly clean items, and breakage is higher than when scientists wash their own. “Researchers don’t trust the wash room, and wind up cleaning their critical pieces anyway.”
Increasingly, lab managers and facility designers are specifying lab washers based on environmental and ergonomic factors. “Purchasers are interested in how the machine coordinates with the building, the lab, and an organization’s ‘green’ strategies,” says Mike Henley, general manager at Lancer (Winter Springs, FL). Utilization of water, energy, and cleaners and wastewater disposal are important factors that affect operating cost. “Purchasers have moved beyond up-front cost and are beginning to take these other issues into account.” Research space is expensive, and so are salary and upkeep of personnel. “They don’t come to work to wash glassware,” Henley notes.
• Features a lower spindle rack that holds up to 36 pieces of primarily narrow-neck
• Includes specialized inserts for pipets, BOD bottles, Petri dishes, culture tubes and small utensils
• Water and detergent are pumped through spindles to reach innermost areas of glassware
• Features forced-air drying through spindles to ensure thorough drying inside and out
• A complete washing and drying cycle takes one hour
• Saves space with a 24-inch footprint
• Incorporates true HEPA-filtered forced-air drying
• A cool-down step can be programmed at the end of cycle to ensure glassware is safe to handle
• Features rotating spray washing arms and versatile cycle programming
• Available in single-door or two-door pass-thru configurations
• Includes a simple touch-control user interface, displaying event, time and temperature
• Capacity for culture dishes, tubes, slides, pipettes, cylinders, flasks, beakers, bottles, etc.
• Dynamic Filling provides resource savings of up to 20% per cycle
• Each cycle requires 40 liters less water and energy turnover is reduced by 20%
• Productivity boost of up to 25% can be achieved with DI water preheating option
• Features full glass doors and chamber illumination so the cleaning process can be monitored