Sunday, June 25, 2017

Machine Washing of Laboratory Glassware

laboratory glassware washers showing loading racks and glassware
Laboratory glassware washers with loading racks and glassware
ready for processing
Courtesy Miele Professional
Automation and changes to many laboratory tasks and processes has likely reduced the need for reusable glassware in those tasks. Nevertheless, there remain many applications where laboratory glassware and other reusable items are the mainstay. Employing reusable containers, tools, and a host of other specialized items brings with it a responsibility for properly processing, or cleaning, the items after each use.
The goal of laboratory glassware washing is to remove all traces of the previous tasks in which the glassware was employed.
It's really that simple. Ideally, no traces of anything but glass. Laboratory measurements can be highly sensitive, so meeting the gold standard for clean glassware requires some knowledge and skill.
  • Know the nature of the contaminants on the glassware.
  • Know how to properly remove those contaminants.
  • Establish a procedure that, when properly executed, thoroughly removes the contaminants.
  • Execute the procedure in accordance with established steps.
Hand washing is one way to process reusable glassware, and in some special cases may be the best or only available way to accomplish the task. Here are some characteristics of glassware washing by hand.
  • Manual operation, completely accomplished with human labor.
  • All facets of cleaning operation subject to adjustment, intentionally or accidentally, by the washing technician.
  • Process one item at a time, resulting in substantial time commitment to the operation.
  • Air dry at room temperature, unless a separate oven is used.
  • Potentially, some limitation on exposure of washed items to high temperature water due to supply temperature irregularity or evaporative cooling.
  • Extensive handling of fragile glassware can lead to breakage.
  • Inventory of brushes, gloves, drying racks, and other items needed for processing must be maintained and replenished as needed.
  • Initial investment is low.
  • Personnel training component can be high, in cases where high quality work is needed and employee turnover may be a factor.
Glassware washing machines, specially purposed for processing laboratory glassware, can overcome a number of the efficiency and quality concerns that can be associated with manual washing. Here are some characteristics of automated glassware washers.
  • Initial investment is high when compared to manual washing.
  • All facets of the operation, except loading and unloading, are automated and require no human intervention under normal operation.
  • Capable washing equipment provides multiple stored programs with differing washing protocols needed for effectively processing various types of glassware or other items.
  • Controller runs and monitors the operation of the machine through selected cycle to assure the correct wash procedure is followed.
  • Process multiple items at a time.
  • Washing machines can include a heated drying cycle.
  • Water temperature is maintained at the proper level throughout the timed cycle phases.
  • Inventory of holders, supports, or racks for processing the glassware inventory of the lab.
  • Minimized use of human labor for the washing operation.
Each lab operation can choose between either the hand or machine washing methods. Share your lab glassware washing requirements and challenges with lab equipment professionals, combining your own experience and knowledge with their equipment application expertise to develop an effective solution.

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