How do I choose the right autoclave?
Choosing the right autoclave machine isn’t as easy as it first appears. There are many factors to consider such as application, throughput, capacity, installation constraints, essential features, ‘nice to have’ features, and of course budget.
Because we manufacture the full spectrum of autoclaves we can provide you with unbiased advise on the type of autoclave which would best suit your needs. We have a simple guide in our download section, and we are always available to visit you. Simply request a call back
How often does a pressure vessel need inspecting?
In the UK it is a regulatory requirement that all pressure vessels are inspected every 13 months.
As the manufacturer, LTE cannot carry out such inspections – this must be done by a suitable Notified Body.
LTE Service Centre is on hand to be on site to coincide with an inspection, in order to assist as required. The most cost-effective way is to arrange the LTE routine service and pressure vessel inspection to take place at the same time.
How do I keep my autoclave in the best operational condition?
In general, the inside of autoclaves should be cleaned on a weekly basis and any loose items such as paper or broken glass removed immediately as these can be drawn into the pipework and cause blockages or damage. Routinely check the condition of the door seal and regularly wipe clean load probes and water level sensors.
Autoclaves with manual fill in-chamber heating require the most in terms of routine maintenance. Water should be replaced on a weekly basis and all detritus removed from the reservoir as failure to do so can affect the reliability of the autoclave over time.
What quality of water should I use in my Autoclave?
Water quality is an essential consideration for any autoclave and it is the customers responsibility to inform LTE of the water quality on site. We recommend potable supplies with a water hardness of <50ppm CaCO2. Anything above this will require water treatment such as a water softener or conditioner, depending on the type of autoclave being considered.
Some water supplies also contain dissolved solids and organics, which can also build up significant sediment over time, especially in steam generators which are closed systems. Such supplies require additional filtration. Failure to do this will affect the reliability of the autoclave.
RO, deionised and de-mineralised water should not be used unless you have consulted LTE to determine the autoclave’s suitability, as in many cases, modifications need to be made to the autoclave before such water types can be used.
If my autoclave load needs to be dry at the end of the cycle, what do I need to do?
Achieving a dry load is important for certain load types such as plastic hollow-ware (i.e. tubes, pipette tips etc), glassware, instruments (especially wrapped) and porous-type loads. All standard non-vacuum autoclaves will leave loads wet at the end of the cycle, especially those models with internal steam generation.
A reasonable level of dryness can be achieved by applying vacuum during the cooling phase. This flashes off much of the moisture on the surface of loads such as glassware and unwrapped instruments. Liquid ring vacuum pumps will be more effective than diaphragm vacuum pumps.
For a totally dry load, which is important for plastic hollow-ware and essential for wrapped instruments and porous-type loads, it is essential that you combine an effective post-vacuum (liquid ring vacuum pump) with a steam heated jacket. This combination of vacuum and elevated temperature will remove all moisture from the load and this can be verified by carrying out a Bowie Dick test cycle. LTE’s Touchclave-Lab K and Touchclave Systems ranges are suitable for this application.
What does air ballast do to improve a fluid cycle?
Air ballast is a useful feature when processing fluids such as media. Processing fluids requires a slow cooling phase which can add considerably to the cycle time. Cooling too quickly can cause a loss of volume but can also be dangerous, as the chamber cools too quickly in comparison to the fluids and breakages can occur as a result. The air ballast process is designed to provide a constant over-pressure inside the chamber during cooling. This helps to prevent volume loss within the load and allows the load to cool more quickly and safely, thus reducing overall cycle times.
Does my autoclave need servicing during its warranty period?
Yes. Autoclaves work under extreme conditions, i.e. steam, pressure and heat, and it is not uncommon for the material being autoclaved to leak into the system and for breakages to occur. Therefore regular maintenance will maximise the efficiency of the system.
A failure to properly maintain your machine can in certain circumstances invalidate your warranty. As a minimum we would recommend 2 service visits per year for an autoclave under normal usage. For autoclaves being used on a double shift or 24hr basis we recommend 4 x service visits per year.
Can LTE service other makes of autoclave or other types of equipment?
Yes. LTE employs one of the largest service teams in the UK, with engineers serving all parts of the UK mainland, and the Scottish Islands. We can provide service, maintenance and testing on a wide range of the life science and healthcare autoclave brands routinely seen in the UK. Our engineers are fully qualified to UKAS and HTM Guidelines.
We also provide service and maintenance on many brands of washer-disinfector for the life science and healthcare markets. A wide range of ovens, incubators and other thermal products are also covered by our Service Centre. Please see the Service section on our web-site or contact us to discuss your requirements.
Can overloading an autoclave affect its performance?
Overloading an autoclave can have a number of adverse effects on an autoclave. Heaters, reservoirs and generators are all affected by overloading. It is imperative that there is adequate room around loads for air to escape and stream to penetrate. Overloading can cause reservoirs to run low, thus damaging heaters, an steam generators to be over-worked, leading to reliability issues. More importantly though, overloading can prevent effective air removal and steam penetration which can lead to certain parts of the load being non-sterile at the end of the cycle. LTE runs a Training Centre at its Headquarters which covers this subject. Click on the link or contact us for more details
Can my existing autoclave be upgraded?
In short, yes, but there are a number of factors to be considered which will determine whether an upgrade represents good value for money. We are happy to discuss your requirements and we can arrange a visit to site to carry out an assessment.
What applications can environmental rooms be used for?
The applications are numerous. The most common application for an environmental room is stability and life testing for various types of products including pharmaceuticals and food products. We have also installed our rooms as large-scale incubators, which helps to free up considerable bench space.
More recently we have been asked to build Ex-rated (i.e. explosion-proof) rooms and also dry chemistry rooms, where the RH is required to control at just 1%. In short we can design a bespoke environmental room for pretty much any application involving temperature and humidity.