Daniels Robotic Washer
Daniels Health has an imported, custom-made robotic washer for the decanting, washing and sanitising of re-usable Daniels Sharpsmart containers. It is a fully integrated downstream processing system designed specifically for opening, decanting, washing and drying of the Daniels range.
The downstream processing system comprises the following main modules:
- Opening and Decanting Head
- Smartguard Applicator
Opening and Decanting Head
Closed and latched Daniels reusable containers, filled with medical sharps waste, are manually loaded into the in-feed conveyor servicing the opening and decanting head. The in-feed conveyor holds up to ten Daniels reusable containers that transfer individually from the in-feed conveyor to the opening and decanting head by means of an air-filled pick-and-place unit.
The lid of the Daniels reusable sharps container is fitted with three closures, one front latch and two side locks, these are released automatically in the opening and decanting head by pneumatically (operated by air under pressure) controlled actuators.
The lid and internal tray components are automatically opened and held in place.
The opening and decanting head automatically inverts the reusable sharps container, allowing the contents to be discharged into an elevating and tipping stainless steel waste container that deposits the medical sharps waste into a bulk waste container.
Whilst held inverted within the opening and decanting head, the Daniels reusable sharps container is automatically clipped onto a stainless steel wash rack. The purpose of the wash rack is to hold the container and its major components in a precise orientation to optimise the washing process.
After clipping onto the wash rack, the container is released from the opening and decanting head and is automatically conveyed into a fully automatic tunnel washer where it undergoes a pre-programmed washing and sanitisation process.
The washing is a five stage process:
The Sharpsmart containers and wash rack are carried between wash stages by a conveyor. During the wash cycle the water temperature and detergent concentration is automatically monitored and controlled.
- Cold water flush: a low volume high impact burst of water to dislodge and remove any residual solid matter remaining after the decanting process. Matter is collected in a large removable strainer that is easily removable for cleaning, the water going to drain.
- Cold water pre wash: a longer duration wash to begin hydrating the Daniels reusable sharps container soiling. There is a periodic topping up of the pre-wash tank programmed into the system control to maintain cleanliness. The overflow from this tank cascades into the cold water flush tank to minimise water usage.
- Hot wash: a detergent wash at adequate hot temperature as the principal wash zone of the system. In order to maintain cleanliness of the wash water a measured percentage of the water is discharged to drain with fresh water make up cascading into the hot wash tank from the eco-rinse tank.
- Eco-rinse: a fresh water rinse to remove residual detergent from the Daniels reusable sharps container. Water is displaced by incoming final rinse water and cascades through to the hot wash tank in the form of fresh make-up water. This hot water is used for the final, low-volume sanitising of the product.
- Smartguarding: The container then passes into an automatic Smartguard applicator where a water-based silicon compound is sprayed into the container and onto its internal surfaces. The purpose of this process is to provide a chemical barrier between soiling and the container to improve resistance to staining.
On completion of the Smartguarding process, and housed in the same module, the container and wash rack are spin-dried before being discharged onto a roller conveyor.
The clean, dry and Smartguarded container is automatically unclipped from the wash rack, manually removed, and given a final inspection for cleanliness before being loaded back into the wheeled transporter for re-use.
The wash rack is automatically fed back into the opening and decanting head for use with other containers. In this way less that twenty wash racks will be in circulation while the system is in use, washing up to 120 containers per hour.
Main Electrical Control Panel
The main electrical control panel is stainless steel and mounted on the right hand side of the main frame. Inside is housed electrical control equipment for the opening and decanting head, waste handling, programmable logic controller (PLC), voltage regulator, mains supply and isolator switch.
Graphic User Interface
A Graphic User Interface (GUI) is housed in a stainless steel panel on the right hand side of the in-feed conveyor and incorporates a 12-inch colour touch-screen that indicates the status of the entire system. The machine operator controls and monitors the entire downstream process from this point and great attention has been given to maximising the ‘user friendliness’ of the GUI.
The GUI is networked to both the opening and decanting head, washer and dryer PLC’s. A barcode reader connects to this unit enabling the identity of each container to be recorded and saved to file for retrieval, both locally and via a modem incorporated into the system as a diagnostic aid.
An additional log file compiles a history of washing and drying temperatures for identified Daniels reusable sharps containers on a two minute time base.
Upon detection of a fault, the GUI graphically displays the location and nature of the problem. Faults are also logged in a register for future retrieval or reference. From the graphic display it is possible to drill down, using the touch screen, to an actual photograph of the component at fault.
Reference: Laura Wakelam, Chief Marketing Officer - Daniels Health