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Modulare Wasch- und Sterilisiereinrichtung - Dokument EP1787662
 
PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1787662 05.07.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001787662
Titel Modulare Wasch- und Sterilisiereinrichtung
Anmelder International Steel Co. SpA, Riese Pio X, (TV), IT
Erfinder Zardini, Fabio, 31033 Castelfranco Veneto (TV), IT
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
Vertragsstaaten AT, BE, BG, CH, CY, CZ, DE, DK, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, HU, IE, IS, IT, LI, LT, LU, LV, MC, NL, PL, PT, RO, SE, SI, SK, TR
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 14.11.2006
EP-Aktenzeichen 061240396
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 23.05.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 05.07.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse A61L 2/025(2006.01)A, F, I, 20070424, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse A61L 2/04(2006.01)A, L, I, 20070424, B, H, EP   A47L 15/24(2006.01)A, L, I, 20070424, B, H, EP   B08B 3/12(2006.01)A, L, I, 20070424, B, H, EP   B08B 3/04(2006.01)A, L, I, 20070424, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns a washing plant, of the modular type, comprising a plurality of washer machines aligned according to a determinate disposition, connected with each other operationally, and able to perform the steps of pre-washing, washing, heat-disinfection and drying of objects, for example but not limited to medical instruments for hospital wards, operating rooms, laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry in general.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Usually, hospital structures comprise a plant for treating objects such as for example instruments used in the operating rooms and therefore potentially infected and not sterile, before they can be used again. This treatment usually consists of a pre-washing step, of a washing cycle proper, heat-disinfection and sterilization.

In particular, known plants are normally divided into several sectors, isolated from each other for reasons of hygiene and known respectively as the "dirty" sector, or reception, the "clean" sector, and the "sterile" sector.

In the first sector, or "dirty" sector, the dirty objects that are to be subjected to the various treatments arrive. The treatments carried out are generally: pre-washing with cold water only, possible washing in an ultrasound bath, washing in hot water and possibly detergents, the necessary rinses, heat-disinfection and final drying. In particular, heat-disinfection, which is a particular type of washing, is done with hot water, usually at a temperature comprised between about 90°C and about 93°C.

The above steps are done by means of a plurality of machines suitable to perform the above treatments.

After they have been heat-disinfected and dried, the objects pass to the second "clean" sector where they are possibly packaged and from here they are fed to sterilization machines, generally consisting of autoclaves, which sterilize them.

The objects, thus sterilized, pass to the following sterile sector where they are stored or sent again for use in the operating room.

In the field of washing plants, it is known that the pre-treatment operations are performed in a much shorter time compared with the time employed to wash, heat-disinfect and dry the objects washed.

Therefore, in known washing plants, the washing and heat-disinfection operations and the subsequent drying represent a "bottleneck" along the washing line.

Purpose of the present invention is to achieve a modular-type washing plant which, in general, has a high overall productivity and in particular which reduces the waiting times between the pre-treatment and the washing, so as to increase the productivity of the washer machines in a manner temporally coordinated with the productivity of the pre-treatment machines.

The Applicant has devised, tested and embodied the present invention to overcome the shortcomings of the state of the art and to obtain these and other purposes and advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is set forth and characterized in the independent claim, while the dependent claims describe other characteristics of the invention or variants to the main inventive idea.

According to the present invention, a washing plant is able to perform at least a cycle for washing objects, which comprises at least a pre-treatment step and a step of washing and heat-disinfection. The plant can be used for the pre-treatment, washing, heat-disinfection and drying of objects intended for example but not limited to surgical wards, laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry in general.

According to the present invention, the washing plant comprises at least a pre-treatment station, provided with at least a pre-treatment machine to perform the pre-treatment step, for example but not only a pre-wash machine and/or an ultrasound wash machine for said objects.

Furthermore, according to the present invention, the washing plant comprises a washing station provided with at least two washer machines disposed in parallel with each other and able to carry out the step of washing and heat disinfecting the objects.

According to the present invention, the washing plant also comprises at least a trolley able to selectively move the objects from the pre-treatment machine to the washer machines, in order to feed them alternately, one at a time.

One advantage of the present invention is that it reduces the waiting times between the pre-treatment and washing, to increase the productivity of the washer machines in a manner that is temporally coordinated with the productivity of the pre-treatment machines.

Advantageously, the trolley is able to selectively translate the objects from the pre-treatment station to a selected one of the washer machines, so that the washer machines can be fed alternately by the translation system. In particular, the objects to be washed are fed by the trolley to the selected washer machine which first becomes available from the moment when the operations to pre-treat the objects have finished.

To this purpose, the washer machines are advantageously disposed aligned, or in a row, along an axis of alignment, parallel to each other, so that the trolley selectively displaces the objects to be washed along the row of washer machines in order to feed them to the washer machine that is accessible.

Advantageously, given that the time the objects remain in the pre-treatment station is very short, compared with the duration of the subsequent washing operations, they are fed, as soon as the pre-treatment is concluded, to the first available washer machine, without remaining at the exit from the corresponding pre-treatment machine; the next objects exiting from the pre-treatment station are advantageously fed, by means of the translation system, to another washer machine accessible along the row, thus increasing the productivity of the washing station.

According to another advantageous feature of the present invention, it is no longer indispensable to prepare large intermediate stores to accommodate the objects exiting from the pre-treatment station, while waiting for the washer machines to become free. In fact, since the washing station comprises a larger number of washer machines, fed alternately, than the number of pre-treatment machines, it can operate continuously on the objects exiting from the pre-treatment station.

In any case, intermediate stores for the objects exiting from the pre-treatment station can be provided, if the whole washing station is unusable, or has a reduced productivity following malfunctions or maintenance, total or partial.

Advantageously, by suitably synchronizing the operating times of the pre-treatment station and the washing station, it is possible to make the pre-treatment machines and the washer machines operate substantially continuously, and therefore without the latter representing a "bottleneck" in the washing plant.

According to another advantageous feature of the present invention, the washing plant obtained is of the modular type, very functional and simplified, since the pre-treatment and washing stations are distinct and independent. In this way, in the event of breakdowns and/or malfunctions, for example to one of the washer machines, the production of the washing cycle is not stopped, and washed objects do not accumulate at the exit from the pre-treatment station because in any case other washer machines are available.

According to another form of embodiment of the present invention, downstream of the washing station a drying station is disposed, comprising drying machines, each one connected directly to the exit of at least one relative washer machine.

Advantageously, a washing station is achieved consisting of a plurality of washer machines in parallel, disposed in series with a drying station consisting of a plurality of drying machines, also advantageously, but not only, disposed in parallel. The physical separation of the drying operation in another and distinct drying machine, distinct from the washer machine, allows to empty the latter more quickly, so as to render it available for a subsequent washing cycle and also allows to accelerate the drying operation itself. In fact, the drying chamber of each drying machine that receives the object, washed and to be dried, is itself substantially dry from the beginning of the drying operation, and therefore less energy and/or less time will be necessary to dry the object alone, which is washed and wet.

Therefore, the overall productivity of the washing plant is greatly increased.

Advantageously, therefore, according to the present invention, it is possible to achieve a modular washing plant in which the different operations of the washing cycle, such as for example pre-wash, ultrasound treatment, washing, heat disinfection and drying, are performed in independent machines, modular and selectively associated, by means of suitable means to move the objects, according to the temporal duration and the physical characteristics of said operations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other characteristics of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of a preferential form of embodiment, given as a non-restrictive example with reference to the attached drawing wherein:

  • fig. 1 is a plane schematic view of a complete pre-washing, washing, heat-disinfection and sterilization plant, comprising a washing plant according to the present invention; and
  • fig. 2 is a perspective view of a washing plant according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERENTIAL FORM OF EMBODIMENT

With reference to fig. 1, a washing plant 10 can be used for example in a plant P in which the complete treatment of pre-washing, washing, heat-disinfection of dirty objects is carried out, in a first zone, called "dirty" zone D, and the sterilization of the washed objects is carried out in a second zone, called "clean" zone C.

The washing plant 10 according to the present invention can be used, in particular, to perform a plurality of cycles of unitary operations to wash objects, by means of suitable machines, for pre-treating, washing, heat-disinfecting and drying objects such as, for example but not only, dirty instruments arriving from hospital wards, operating rooms, laboratories and from the pharmaceutical industry and usually contained in baskets.

By washing operations we mean both the pre-treatment operations, pre-washing and/or washing in cold water, ultrasound washing, and also the subsequent operations of washing in hot water, with chemical detergents, and also heat-disinfection, with the relative rinses and drying.

The washing plant 10 comprises at least a pre-treatment station 13 and a washing station 14 for the objects, served continuously by the pre-treatment station 13 (fig. 2). The objects are transported along the pre-treatment station 13 and the washing station 14 by means of suitable movement means, as will be shown in detail in the following part of the description.

In the pre-treatment station 13 a pre-treatment cycle is performed, which comprises one or more steps or unitary operations of pre-treatment, preliminary and preparatory to the subsequent washing and heat-disinfection, such as a pre-wash, a wash with cold water and/or an ultrasound bath.

In this case, the pre-treatment station 13 comprises at least a pre-wash machine 11 and at least an ultrasound wash machine 12, disposed in series with each other.

On the contrary, in the washing station 14, operations of washing in hot water, possibly with detergents, heat disinfection, corresponding intermediate and final rinses and the relative drying are performed.

The washing station 14 comprises a plurality of washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 able to perform the steps or operations of washing, heat-disinfection and drying of the objects, and each is provided with a suitable washing chamber 27 inside which said steps are performed.

The washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 are positioned aligned and parallel to an axis of alignment T, so that the entrance to each of them is parallel to the entrance of the other adjacent washer machines.

The objects are fed, as indicated by the arrow A, into the pre-wash machine 11 of the pre-treatment station 13 by means of said movement means which comprises a first manual trolley 25 and a subsequent trolley 23a provided with a mobile arm 24a and a conveyor belt 24b. A trolley 23b, identical to the trolley 23a, allows passage from the pre-wash machine 11 to the ultrasound wash machine 12.

According to the present invention, the movement means which moves the objects to be washed also comprises a trolley 22, 125, able to move the objects between the different washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 parallel to the axis of alignment T, so as to feed the objects to be washed to the washing chamber 27 of a selected one of the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, for example according to the washing cycle to which the objects are to be subjected, the current availability and accessibility of the washer machines and similar parameters.

The respective washing chambers 27 are simultaneously and selectively all potentially accessible for the objects moved by the trolley 22, 125 and, of these, at least one accessible for washing is selected.

The trolley can be of the automated type, trolley 22, or of the type moved manually, trolley 125, as required.

In particular, the trolley 22, of the automated type, is able to translate automatically parallel to the axis of alignment T and is provided with a mobile arm 21a and a conveyor belt 21b, identical to the arm 24a and the conveyor belt 24b, to move the objects to be washed inside a selected washer machine 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, in a direction indicated by the arrows F, perpendicular to the axis of alignment T.

The trolley 22 may be made and moved as described in the applications for an Italian patent UD2005A000194, filed 16.11.2005 , UD2005A000216, filed 21.12.2005 and UD2006A000228, filed 25.10.2006 , all in the name of the present Applicant.

For example, the trolley 22 can be mounted cantilevered with respect to a supporting frame associated with the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, or it can be made partly or completely resting on the floor in front of the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, as shown in fig. 2.

According to another form of embodiment of the present invention, the movement of the objects to be washed is, instead, achieved by means of a fixed roller system, or a conveyor belt, a slider and similar equivalent embodiments, not shown in the drawings.

The interval of time needed to perform a pre-treatment cycle at the pre-treatment station 13 in this case is much less than that needed to perform a cycle of washing and heat-disinfection in one of the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

For example, the overall time for pre-washing and ultrasound washing is a few minutes, while the time required for washing, heat-definition and drying is at least about ten minutes.

In the case shown in fig. 2, the time required for three pre-treatment cycles, each consisting of a pre-wash in the machine 11 and an ultrasound wash in the machine 12, is substantially comparable, as duration, with the washing time of a single washer machine 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Therefore, by means of at least three washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 in parallel, where each performs the washing, heat-disinfection and drying substantially continuously, with a suitably staggered timing, the washing station 14 operates substantially continuously, receiving advantageously continuously the objects exiting from the pre-treatment station 13 and hence having a productivity comparable to the pre-treatment station 13.

The objects can be dried in the same washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 or, according to an advantageous embodiment of the invention, in drying machines downstream of the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. In this last case, the washing plant 10 comprises a drying station 15, distinct from and disposed downstream of the washing station 14, and provided with drying machines 28.

Fig. 2 shows two washer machines 16, 17 which, apart from washing and heat-disinfection, also carry out drying operations, and three washer machines 18, 19, 20 associated with relative drying machines 28, in which the drying of the washed objects is not carried out in the washer machines 18, 19, 20 but in the relative drying machines 28. The latter receive the washed objects from the washer machines 18, 19, 20 to be dried in the relative drying chambers 29 of the drying machines 28. The passage of the objects from the washer machines 18, 19, 20 to the drying machines 28 is achieved by means of three corresponding trolleys 123, identical to the trolleys 23a, 23b, and which are positioned directly at exit from each washer machine 18, 19, 20.

Once the objects have been dried in the washing station 14, as shown in fig. 2 for the washer machines 16 and 17, or in the drying station 15, as shown in fig. 2 for the washer machines 18, 19, 20, the objects are removed by means of a trolley 223, identical to the trolleys 23a, 23b and 123, and sent to the subsequent treatment or stored, for example by means of at least a manual trolley 225, and/or a discharge roller 26, to transport them to a store.

It is clear that, as an alternative to the trolley 223, in order to discharge the dried objects it is possible to use an automated trolley which translates parallel to the axis of alignment T and is made as described in the already cited applications for an Italian patent UD2005A000194 , UD2005A000216 and UD2006A000228 , in the name of the present Applicant.

According to another variant, the dried objects can be discharged by means of a manual trolley, identical to the trolleys 25, 125, 225, or by means of a mechanical roller identical to the roller 26, or a conveyor belt. Furthermore, it is clear that, according to necessity, the dried objects can be discharged by hand by a suitable worker.

Therefore, by using the drying station 15, provided with drying machines 28 in parallel and disposed in correspondence with the exit of the respective washer machines 18, 19, 20, the productivity of the washing station 14 is effectively increased, and also that of the washing plant 10 as a whole. One form of embodiment of the invention which gives even greater productivity provides that all the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 are associated with relative drying machines 28.

It is clear that modifications and/or additions of parts may be made to the washing plant 10 as described heretofore, without departing from the field and scope of the present invention.

For example, variants are provided on the type and/or number of pre-treatment machines 11, 12 in the pre-treatment station 13, to adapt to possible needs.

According to a first variant, the pre-treatment station 13 can comprise only one cold-water pre-wash machine, or only two pre-wash machines 11 disposed in series, if the pre-wash alone is sufficient.

According to a second variant, the pre-treatment station 13 comprises three or more pre-treatment machines 11, 12 disposed in series. For example, the pre-treatment station 13 can comprise two pre-wash machines 11 and an ultrasound wash machine 12 in series with each other, or a pre-wash machine 11, an ultrasound wash machine 12 and a cold-water wash machine in series with each other.

According to a third variant of the invention, the pre-treatment station 13 can comprise two or more batteries consisting of a plurality of pre-treatment machines 11, 12 disposed in series. The batteries are in turn disposed in parallel with each other. This variant is particularly advantageous when the treatment station 14 comprises a high number of washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, for example four or more.

Another variant of the present invention provides to achieve a roller or conveyor belt between the pre-treatment station 13 and the treatment station 14, which functions as a store for the objects already pre-treated and waiting to be subjected to washing and heat-disinfection. This is advantageous especially when the pre-treatment station 13 has a productivity greater than the treatment station 14, for example because one of the washer machines 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 is not usable.

It is also clear that, although the present invention has been described with reference to some specific examples, a person of skill in the art shall certainly be able to achieve many other equivalent forms of washing plant, having the characteristics as set forth in the claims and hence all coming within the field of protection defined thereby.


Anspruch[en]
Washing plant, able to perform at least a washing cycle for objects, which comprises at least a pre-treatment step and a washing and heat-disinfection step, characterized in that it comprises: - at least a pre-treatment station (13), comprising at least a pre-treatment machine (11, 12) able to perform said pre-treatment step on said objects; - at least a washing station (14), comprising at least two washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) disposed in parallel with respect to each other and able to perform at least said washing and heat-disinfection step on said objects; - at least a trolley (22, 125) able to selectively move said objects from said pre-treatment machine (11, 12) to said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20), to feed said objects alternately, one at a time. Washing plant as in claim 1, characterized in that said pre-treatment station (13) comprises two pre-treatment machines (11, 12). Washing plant as in claim 2, characterized in that said pre-treatment machines comprise a pre-wash machine (11) disposed in series with an ultrasound wash machine (12). Washing plant as in claim 2, characterized in that said pre-treatment machines comprise two pre-wash machines (11) disposed in series with each other. Washing plant as in claim 1, characterized in that said pre-treatment station (13) comprises three pre-treatment machines (11, 12). Washing plant as in claim 5, characterized in that said three pre-treatment machines are disposed in series with each other, of which two are pre-wash machines (11) and one is an ultrasound wash machine (12). Washing plant as in claim 5, characterized in that said three pre-treatment machines comprise a pre-wash machine (11) disposed in series with an ultrasound wash machine (12) and with a wash machine. Washing plant as in claim 1, characterized in that said pre-treatment station (13), comprises a plurality of batteries of pre-treatment machines (11, 12), each consisting of a plurality of pre-treatment machines (11, 12) disposed in series, wherein said plurality of batteries are disposed in parallel with each other. washing plant as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said pre-treatment machines (11, 12) are associated with movement means (23a, 23b) able to move said objects along said pre-treatment station (13). Washing plant as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) are also able to perform a drying step on the objects washed. Washing plant as in any claim from 1 to 9, characterized in that it comprises a drying station (15), disposed downstream of said washing station (14) and provided with a plurality of drying machines (28), distinct from said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) and each connected directly to the exit of a respective washer machine (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) by means of connection means (123), so that each one effects a drying operation on said washed objects exiting from said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Washing plant as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) are disposed aligned along an axis of alignment (T). Washing plant as in claim 12, characterized in that said trolley (22, 125) is able to transport said objects from said pre-treatment station (13) to a selected one of said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20), parallel to said axis of alignment (T) of said washing station (14), in such a manner that said washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20) operate substantially continuously. Washing plant as in claim 1, characterized in that it comprises discharge means (223) able to pick up and discharge the washed objects at exit from the washer machines (16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Washing plant as in claims 11 and 14, characterized in that the discharge means (223) are also able to pick up and discharge the dried objects at exit from the drying machines (28).






IPC
A Täglicher Lebensbedarf
B Arbeitsverfahren; Transportieren
C Chemie; Hüttenwesen
D Textilien; Papier
E Bauwesen; Erdbohren; Bergbau
F Maschinenbau; Beleuchtung; Heizung; Waffen; Sprengen
G Physik
H Elektrotechnik

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