Astell Retrospective – 1972 autoclave controller

Astell Retrospective – 1972 autoclave controller

We look back 45 years to highlight advances in sterilizer control systems technology.

In the 1970’s Astell Scientific, then known as Astell Hearson, was a manufacturer of laboratory equipment and apparatus in many forms. However, autoclaves have remained a headline product throughout the company’s 130+ year history. Whilst steam may have always been the most reliable sterilization method, the technology available to achieve it has evolved through the years – as this page extract from the Astell Hearson product catalogue of 1972 clearly demonstrates.

The autoclave control panel pictured below illustrates how only basic switches and dials were employed to set up and monitor a sterilisation cycle. Featuring a thermoregulator dial for adjustment of temperature, an automatic timer setting dial, a pressure gauge and a few toggle switches and status lights, little is provided by way of anti-tamper security, status monitoring or fault identification and operators were required to manually log any process data required for audit trail records.

Compare this to the present day, and our advanced touchscreen controller (pictured beneath) – fitted as standard to all new Astell front and top loading autoclaves. Users benefit from improvements in cycle performance and monitoring, with a host of useful features which simply were not available 45 years ago. The colour display and icon driven menu is easy to understand and offers a clear choice for cycle selection, which reduces the prospect of set-up errors, whilst also providing an indication of current autoclave status and any warning messages that need immediate attention. It is possible to create, customise and edit sterilization cycles stored within the controller memory ensuring the autoclave can meet specific user or load demands. Areas of the interface can be password protected to add different levels of security and operator control. Finally, the touchscreen controller features a data archiving facility that allows details of up to 5,000 cycles to be retained. These can be easily accessed via an integral printer (if fitted), or via the external USB port using a flash drive, thus providing full traceability, which is an essential requirement in today’s laboratories.

More information on the Astell Scientific touchscreen controller can be found here and in our full product catalogue.