Amsco Sterilizer Upgrades

Is Your Amsco Autoclave Getting Old? 4 Benefits of a Control System Upgrade to Extend the Life of Your Older-Model Autoclave

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Written by: Mike Peters

Autoclaves typically last more than 20 years, but as they age, so does the technology that supports them. As a result, labs with older model autoclaves/sterilizers—such as Amsco® autoclaves—predictably operate at less than full capacity due to compromised performance.

Of the hundreds of laboratories worldwide that are home to the thousands of aging autoclaves still in use, few have the immediate funding to swiftly replace their older units.

But there is a silver lining—not every lab needs to replace an older model autoclave. Today, by simply upgrading your autoclave control system, you can easily and cost-effectively extend the life of your laboratory autoclave and exceed your current capabilities.

Here are four (4) benefits to upgrading your autoclave control system (and we’ve added a case study to showcase the ease of the upgrade process):


1. Technology Efficiency

Old school technologies are like typewriters—we love them for their legacy, but they no longer make our day-to-day operations easier, not to mention spare parts are often difficult or impossible to obtain.  Autoclaves with these type controllers, similar to those used in 20+ year old Amsco sterilizers, demand antiquated chart-recording, manual data-logging, and other excessive, arduous work on the users’ part. This dramatically interrupts workflow and overall lab efficiency.

By upgrading to a more modern autoclave control system, such as an Allen Bradley PLC-based controller, labs can increase productivity by leaps and bounds.

Modern control systems come equipped with features like intuitive touchscreens, real-time operating, 20+ pre-programmed cycles, downloadable data-logs, password protections, and more. Each feature helps labs ensure repeatable accuracy in process and procedure, empowering your lab to select cycles and temperatures best suited to your exact sterilization needs.


2. Environmental Efficiency

Older model autoclaves, like Amsco models, consume a lot of water—upwards of 1 million gallons per year for one small to medium-sized unit. This creates both societal and financial concern, labs pay by the buckets while the environment is unnecessarily drained and depleted.

To combat older model autoclave inefficiencies, and to help labs achieve LEED certification and ASHRAE compliancy, upgrading to modern day control systems can reduce water usage by up to 60% and reduce utility bills by more than $8,000 per year.

These water usage improvements are a direct result of control efficiency technologies, such as automatic on-off features. Unlike traditional controllers, this feature allows the control system to pre-heat the sterilizer prior to the start of the workday and to shut off the steam supply at the end of the day and over weekends. Sometimes referred to as an EcoCalendar™, the more advanced systems can even be configured so that each facility can set up a different start time and stop time for each day of the week.

Some autoclaves also are equipped with a feature much like a computer’s sleep mode, in which the steam supply will shut off if the unit hasn’t been used for a specified period of time. And more advanced control systems, like the Advantage Series, can even leverage WaterEco™ systems for significantly greater savings.

See how you could contribute to a more sustainable future and start saving today by checking out this easy to use water savings calculator.


3. Increased Control & Reliability

Autoclave uptime is crucial, but when an issue arises in an older model autoclave, service, diagnosis, and troubleshooting are a hassle—and by no means intuitively recognized or solved.

To meet specific laboratory or facility requirements, these systems will automatically reject incorrect or out-of-tolerance parameters; a cycle-start interlock requires that all doors be closed and locked before a cycle can begin; and audible alarms will ring if the unit does not maintain sterilization parameters.

Today, upgrades can include state-of-the-art controllers with software and hardware-based remote monitoring systems, allowing for unattended operation of any autoclave without sacrificing reliability.

Remote monitoring systems are a quick, easy solution. They can connect via a standard, dedicated phone line or VPN Ethernet connection; they offer electronic data acquisition so users can record time, temperature, and pressure data in real-time; and many can even be configured to allow for monitoring through hand-held devices, such as iPhones or Droids.

Add advanced, multi-layer password protections, automatic memory backups in the event of power failures/outages, and exhaust rate regulation to the benefits associated with remote monitoring and you ensure your older model autoclave, especially an outdated AMSCO autoclave, is given a secure facelift into the 21st century.


 4. Cost-Efficiency & Lower Overall Cost of Ownership

As discussed, autoclave uptime is paramount, but this is important beyond maintaining steady workflow. When your autoclave needs service, diagnosis, and troubleshooting, you need the money to pay for the professional assistance.

With control upgrades like remote monitoring, autoclave manufacturers are able to more quickly and easily solve for service challenges, as the controller is capable of interacting with the manufacturer engineers to more quickly and accurately diagnose the autoclave, coordinate parts ordering and deliveries, and lower the necessity for on-site service visits.

Add available water-saving technologies to this, and you’re prepared to reduce the overall cost of ownership by tremendous measures.


CSS Makes Autoclave Controller System Upgrades Easy & Effective

At Consolidated Sterilizer Systems, we make upgrading your autoclave’s controller system a cinch—offering sterilizer control upgrade kits.

With an upgrade kit, new control systems are housed in a vertical side-mounted enclosures and input / output relays and wiring are installed into a preexisting location on your autoclave, replacing top-mounted chart recorders and digital times in current use. Typically, new temperature sensors are also installed. And at this point, additional Smart Options can also be incorporated, such as WaterEco™ systems, in order to customize your upgrade and meet your lab’s specific application needs. 

CSS’ upgrade kits are not just for upgrading our own CSS units either—CSS controller conversion upgrades can also update other older model autoclaves, such as Amsco sterilizers.

To be prepared for the process of a CSS controller upgrade to your older model autoclave, you should typically plan as follows:

  • Schedule out 4 – 8 hours for a standard conversion
  • Coordinate within your facility to be “down” for a full day related to autoclave use
  • Make adjustments to anticipated down-time if  you plan on upgrading other parts and component of the autoclave (e.g. adding a WaterEco system.)

For a more complete picture of the process, check out CSS’ Amsco autoclave mini case study below.



Amsco Autoclave Upgrade


At 100 years old, Amsco was the nation’s leading manufacturer of steam and gas autoclaves all the way into the early 1990s. But in 1995, STERIS Corporation acquired Amsco. This significantly increased STERIS’ product line to 300+ products and their customer base to 35,000+ customers and was markedly one of the largest acquisitions in autoclave history—but today’s labs are experiencing some unexpected side affects and drawbacks.

Today, all of the 15+ year old Amsco sterilizers still in the field are falling behind, no longer performing at the capacity they were once heralded for, and the labs that house them are faced with the challenge to either replace them or efficiently extend their lives. If the labs depending on these units do not do this, they run the risk of falling behind.



Fortunately, CSS has been able to help these labs upgrade their Amsco sterilizers with our upgrade kits—saving them a lot of headaches, time, and money.



The image above depicts a facility where CSS upgraded 21 Amsco steam sterilizers all with CSS’ ADV-PB control systems. This customer was processing red-bag waste, liquids, and glassware—all cycles that the ADV-PB control system can handle with ease. In addition, each of these units also leveraged CSS’ water saving system—the WaterEco system—that will help this particular facility conserve millions of gallons of water for years to come.

In total, this conversion took about 2 days per unit, including not only the controller upgrade, but also complete re-piping of each unit with non-proprietary valves, and a WaterEco upgrade kit as well.

For CSS, this upgrade was routine and we hope to conduct many more—there are still thousands of Amsco autoclave upgrades to be done!

Interested in upgrading your CSS or Amsco autoclave’s control system? Contact CSS today for a free quote!

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