Ok, now it’s time for a new oven or sterilizer for your laboratory or production site, and you’re in the market searching for a piece of equipment that will meet your needs. You more than likely have more questions than answers. That’s normal.
After checking several websites, you found out that all manufacturers will proudly advertise that their equipment is the best in the market – are you surprised? No way! I would if I saw an ad stating: “we have the best so-so equipment in the market”, so forget this kind of statement.
You know precisely what you need – chamber size, overall size, temperature setup point, installation configuration, door configuration, connectivity to your local network, color touch-screen display, and everything else – but you’re still undecided. There are too many options that – apparently – fit your needs. The clock is ticking; you need you to determine what equipment you would recommend! The pressure is all on you. BUT don’t panic, we’re here to help you!
From all variables you have to evaluate, below we list variables that cannot be overlooked. That’s our bullet point guide that will help you find the best equipment for you. Since we’re thinking about a new oven or sterilizer, let’s evaluate the following points:
- Heat distribution
One of the most essential parameters that need attention is how the temperature distributes in the chamber. Low or high-temperature spots are the worst conditions on an oven or sterilization process. A low-temperature spot will under-expose your product, and a high-temperature will most probably “cook” your load and destroy it.
- Process control
This item goes along with item # 1. The control system must comply with your process specification in terms of precision. Check what the parameters of your process are and compare it with the equipment’s manufacturer’s data for temperature deviation and accuracy.
- Internal construction / Material compatibility / cleanliness
Check how the equipment walls are built and protected from any harm that your product can produce. Some products can release some gases or some fumes that are harmful and can impact the equipment negatively, like corrosion. The chamber must be easy to clean, and this is directly affected by the access you will have to the walls and also how polished the walls are.
- Space availability
One of the most overlooked items is the internal space. Evaluating your load configuration against the volume you have internally available is vital. There are many pieces of equipment in the field that cannot hold the expected glassware, package, or item size, and this will impact in the overall production. As opposed to run 5 cycles a day, effectively being able to process your load requirements, a poorly spaced unit could require the number of cycles to increase, possibly double or triple, meaning more time and cost involved.
- Overall utility consumption
How many times have you heard about a specific company that is working hard to reduce its overall production cost? Purchasing less expensive equipment can seem to be the right decision at the moment, but how much will this unit cost to operate? Would you purchase an inexpensive car if it required copious amounts of gasoline to operate? Probably not!
Consider all ergonomics factors before purchasing your equipment, leave the hard work for your time at the gym. Some equipment is so heavy to operate that employees could see an increased physical or medical risk because of the extra weight being lifted. Certainly far from ideal.
Check the availability of service and spare parts. You would hate having one piece of equipment sitting in your company out-of-order because of lousy service availability or lack of spare parts.
- Installed Base
Don’t put yourself in unnecessary risk. Ask your supplier to provide you with a list of customers that own the same equipment you’re considering. Consider calling these customers and check if they’re satisfied with the unit.
- Heat transfer
Would you like to transform your lab into a sauna? Some equipment have terrible thermal insulation, which means that your working area will get (sometimes extremely) warm – and there is nothing to be done afterward to fix it. You will have to live with it.
We hope we were able to give you the basics in terms of how to evaluate which equipment to purchase. We’ll discuss these topics in deep in the upcoming bulletins. In this meantime, if you should like to discuss, comment, or ask us anything, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.