CSS’ New Healthcare Autoclaves Are Full of Exciting Features

CSS_Scott Mechler_Headshot
Written by: Scott Mechler

BS Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineer

As of August 2, 2022, Consolidated Sterilizer Systems’ new line of healthcare steam sterilizers have received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — and we couldn’t be more excited.

Designed and manufactured specifically for use in healthcare facilities, including hospital and ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), our healthcare autoclaves (Consolidated HC Steam Sterilizer models 3AV-HC, 26AV-HC, and 26BV-HC) offer a variety of innovative features to support life-saving work.

Here are 10 features you’ll find on a new healthcare steam sterilizers:

  • Auto-Venting: A brand-new capability designed specifically for our healthcare sterilizer series, each unit comes with an automatically venting door. This feature helps to reduce condensation by cracking the door open at the end of a cycle thereby allowing steam to vent from the autoclave chamber. This ensures that goods come out completely dry and avoid wet packs, which, as previously mentioned, could compromise sterility.
  • Mobility: Given the spatial constraints within many ASCs and sterile processing departments, maintaining service access clearance around a medical sterilizer can be challenging. Our healthcare autoclave series helps solve for this problem by adding rollers for mobility, so technicians can easily move the unit about as needed for service; this also allows for easier installation and utility connections. Not only that, but our Model 3AV-HC (the most popular size for a healthcare setting) features a top-mounted controller, which reduces the width of the autoclave by eliminating the control column from the side of the unit, and a vertical sliding door. As a result, our medical sterilizers have a much smaller footprint than other comparable units, which means a healthcare facility can fit more equipment within a single sterile processing area.
  • WaterEco® System: When using a healthcare sterilizer, it’s important to cool the sterilizer effluent before it goes down the drain pipe to prevent any potential heat damage to the facility’s drain lines. Unfortunately, this process can consume over 1,500 gallons of water per day…for just one autoclave! The good news is that all of Consolidated’s HC steam sterilizers are equipped with a built-in WaterEco system. This standard feature on all of our healthcare autoclaves, cools effluent using a combination of air, previously cooled effluent, and a minimal amount of water, enabling healthcare facilities to massively reduce their water consumption. The temperature setpoint of the cooling water effluent can also be customized within the control system, allowing precise temperature control for facilities with specific requirements.
  • Water Monitoring System: Most medical facilities — hospitals, especially — operate around the clock to serve the needs of the community and often keep their autoclave in idle mode 24/7 so that they can easily run a sterilization cycle as soon as the need arises. As you can imagine, this leads to significant water and energy consumption, especially in facilities with dozens of autoclaves or more running at the same time. Our state-of-the-art control system makes it easy to monitor sterilizer water consumption day and night by calculating and displaying real-time data for cooling water consumed per cycle, day, month, and year. When used in conjunction with our WaterEco system, healthcare facilities can save up to 90% of their water (from the autoclave) — without any additional investment.

Estimated Cooling Water Consumption

Alt text: The HC sterilizer control system display screen with water usage metrics.

  • EcoCalendar™: Certain medical facilities, such as ASCs, operate according to rigorous schedules. In settings such as these, forgetting to turn on an autoclave in time for a scheduled procedure can lead to unexpected downtime, which can create bottlenecks in the sterile processing department. That’s why each of our healthcare sterilizers come equipped with a calendar-based automatic startup and shutdown feature known as EcoCalendar. EcoCalendar enables operators to program utilities for automated startup and shutdown based on time of day and day of the week. This feature not only streamlines operations but also allows managers and technicians to focus on other tasks and responsibilities without worrying about whether the autoclave has been turned on. EcoCalendar also promotes sustainability and reduces both the carbon footprint and operating cost of a steam sterilizer by minimizing utility consumption and HVAC load using an automated, software-controlled steam shutoff program.
  • Warm-Up Cycle: Each of our healthcare sterilizers comes pre-programmed with multiple sterilization cycles. For healthcare facilities, our Warm-Up Cycle is an essential pre-programmed cycle that is intended to be the first cycle of the day to get the autoclave chamber and components warm and to flush out any moisture from the steam lines and plumbing. (It is not used for sterilization.) This cycle helps to reduce condensation of packaging and helps to ensure that goods come out of the autoclave completely dry (i.e. no wet packs) thereby preventing moisture from compromising the sterile barriers of the packaging which could cause contamination of the instruments within.
  • Preventative Maintenance Reminders: Healthcare facilities cannot afford unexpected downtime, which means scheduling routine autoclave maintenance is of the utmost importance. Our medical autoclaves enable users to set preventative maintenance reminders based on variables such as cycle count or time period through an easy-to-use touchscreen display. These reminders ensure that medical steam sterilizers receive regular maintenance, operate at optimal performance levels, and are always available when needed. To take preventative maintenance one step further, we also offer a SterilCARE™ preventative maintenance service program. Each SterilCARE plan includes both a preventative maintenance service plan and a parts kit — called PartsPAX™— to help healthcare facilities maintain a low total cost of ownership and ensure that their autoclaves run safely and reliably. Healthcare facilities can choose from two SterilCARE plans, or work directly with CSS to develop their own custom-configured maintenance program.
  • Foot Pedal Actuation: This time-saving feature allows operators who have their hands full to easily load and unload the autoclave with just the press of a foot pedal. Plus, autoclave door handles are hot spots for contamination, which is why healthcare professionals need to be able to operate a sterilizer and retrieve goods from its chamber without having to touch the door handle. It’s so important, in fact, that hands-free operation is a requirement for all medical autoclaves, per Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) ST-8. Each of our healthcare autoclaves comes with a built-in foot pedal for opening and closing the chamber door, offering convenience to operators and increasing patients’ safety.
  • Large-Capacity (kW) Steam Generator: Efficiency and throughput are vital in any healthcare setting. When it comes to autoclaves, steam capacity is critical to an efficient sterile processing department.  Many facilities don’t have adequate “house steam” therefore the autoclaves must be equipped with a large capacity generator straight from the factory. Each of our healthcare sterilizers can be supplied with such a generator, which is not only high-powered but also fits within the footprint of the autoclave. This is known as a large-capacity integral generator —  it enhances throughput without compromising available space. 
  • Non-proprietary Components: Ongoing supply chain disruption poses a very real threat to healthcare facilities, preventing them from gaining access to the equipment they need. All of our healthcare sterilizers are made from non-proprietary parts and components, which prevents medical facilities from being beholden to the supply chain of a single manufacturer and mitigates risk.

With advanced sterilizer capabilities, such as these, designed with medical facilities in mind, it’s easy to see why we’re so eager to share our new healthcare sterilizer series with the world.

To learn more about any of the features you see here or to see whether a Consolidated autoclave is the right fit for your facility, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.

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