Anyone who works in a lab quickly learns the value of labware washers. Today washers are almost as common in laboratories as they are in kitchens. Any lab that uses glassware for analysis, science, or engineering is a potential user. Washers are found in schools, research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and water and wastewater analytical labs, and are used in many industries such as public health, forensics, chemical R&D, petrochemicals, electronics, medical devices, optics and cosmetics. Over 60 percent of the respondents who have a lab washer in ther lab use it at least once a day while close to 40 percent use the washer several times a day.
Somewhat like kitchen dishwashers, the value of lab washers is their ability to perform critical cleaning of glassware of various shapes, sizes, and durability. Some labs that don’t have washers have a person whose job it is to pick up, wash, and return glassware to the lab. On average, this person spends roughly two hours per day in this process. In addition to the cost, hand washing of glassware is subject to the condition of the clean glassware, breakage, and loss. Over one third of the respondents who are planning to purchase a washer are looking to move away from hand washing their glassware.
Washers are usually specified according to their capacity. Small capacity washers (under-counter models) sport about 4.5 cubic feet of wash chamber while mediumcapacity models are the most widely used in the lab, ranging from about five to ten cubic feet, and larger capacities have above ten cubic feet. Another way to categorize washers is by where they are located: in centralized cleaning rooms or at the point of use.
Which type(s) of lab washer are you using in your lab?
|Small capacity washer||18%|
|Medium capacity washer||59%|
|High throughput washer||6%|
|Large capacity washer||6%|
Another way to break down washers’ capabilities is by type of contaminant removed, which differs significantly for various lab types. For example, inorganic chemistry or forensics labs require removal of trace metals and other contaminants to part-per-billion levels, organic chemistry labs demand removal of oily and tarry residues, and glassware used in biochemistry and microbiology labs should be free of enzymes, proteins, or inhibitors of microbial growth. Dozens of other industries demand cleaning of small parts or implements made of plastic, stainless steel, ceramics, and other materials. In short, any contaminant that affects or biases results of subsequent work needs to be eliminated. The circulation rate and temperature of water in the wash chamber, the type of detergent used, and basket design are important parameters in these applications.
If you have a lab washer, please select its application in your lab.
|Cleaning large volumes of small items||28%|
|Cleaning moderate volumes of small items||40%|
|Cleaning large, difficult to clean items||19%|
|Sterilization of liquids in vented glass containers||2%|
Design of the washer’s basket system is critical in terms of how it handles such items as narrownecked glassware, pipettes, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) bottles, and microtiter plates.
Which of the following baskets are you using?
|Direct injection (for beakers, pipettes, flasks)||19%|
|Test tube baskets||14%|
|Slides and Petri dish baskets||5%|
One of the key factors in the decision process is the value proposition. If vendors can demonstrate enhanced safety and cost savings through reduced labor or lower consumption of water and cleaning chemicals, up-front cost becomes less of an issue. Other significant selling points include service and support and consistent cleaning and disinfection results.
Increasingly, lab managers and facility designers are specifying lab washers based on environmental and ergonomic factors. To conform with environmental regulations, some washers have either a cool-down capability to reduce the temperatures of effluents sent to drain, or certain mechanisms to adjust effluent pH.
One of the most significant trends in washer technology has been programmability. Manufacturers have designed models with programming capability to address every conceivable application.
Some incorporate sensors, such as conductivity meters, to ensure proper cleaning and enable automatic repetition of the wash cycle if required cleanliness is not achieved. Some questions you should answer before you purchase a laboratory glassware washer: What throughput and capacity best fits the lab’s requirements? Do you have large glassware that may be difficult to fit inside the wash chamber or small pieces that require special injection racks to properly clean them? Do you need to get the glassware back into use quickly, or can you afford to have it sit in the washer overnight to dry? Do you have a centralized washing room or do you wash bench side? Does the rinse cycle need to be heated and at what temperature? Have you compared water circulation pumps in terms of gallons per minute? Do you require monitoring alarms and under what conditions?
Top ten factors buyers include in their decision-making process to buy a lab washer.
|Service and support||96%|
|Durability of product||94%|
|Low maintenance - easy to load and unload||94%|
|Wide range of accessories||91%|
|Consistent washing and disinfection results||85%|
|Energy efficient / low operating cost||85%|
|Reliability of vendor||85%|
|Ability to customize racks||84%|
For more information on Laboratory Glassware Washers, visit www.labmanager.com/washers
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