Autoclave sterilization

5 reasons to automate your autoclave sterilization process

What is autoclave sterilization?

Autoclave sterilization is the process of using heated steam to kill harmful microbial life that may be present within a product.

 

In the cylindrical chamber of the autoclave, the temperature under high pressure rises to (minimum) 121 °C. The result of the autoclave sterilization process? Products have a longer shelf life and can be stored for several months outside the refrigerator in closed packaging.

Focus on food & pharma

Autoclaving can be found in food, medical, aircraft and laboratory settings, among others. It can take place in both continuous and batch flow. On this page we focus specifically on autoclave sterilization for food and pharma in batch processes.

Autoclave sterilization

Products suitable for autoclave sterilization

First of all, the content of a product determines whether an autoclave sterilization process is required.

 

In the food and pharma industry, sterilization of fruits and vegetables, baby food, wet pet food, prepared meals, soups, sauces, canned meat or seafood and IV bags is most common.

Diversity of packaging

The biggest advantage of a batch autoclave compared to a continuous sterilizer, is the high product and container flexibility. This means that a diverse range of packed products are suitable for an autoclave sterilization process; from pouches, aluminium trays and plastic cups to cans, jars and bottles. Depending on the product type, the batch of products is transported by trays (pouches and tubs) or by baskets (cans, jars) and loaded in and out of the autoclave.

Retort automation products

5 reasons to automate autoclave sterilization

Autoclave sterilization is a demanding process, involving many steps. Automation can therefore be beneficial due to the following cases:

#1 - Rising food demand

 

The pressure on production volumes is increasing as a result of the growth of the world population. Forecasts indicate that the total population will reach 9 billion by mid-2050. This means that food producers have to step up their game to meet these high demands. Automation can increase production speed and reduce costs per product.

#2 - Ready for product variety

 

As consumer demand for new products and variety increases, (pet) food companies need increased flexibility within their production processes. Handling uncommon product shapes? Or running four different can sizes on one production line? That should be the standard. The good news: we can handle it!

Can handling system

#3 - Improving ergonomics

 

An ergonomically good and safe working environment is increasingly important in many production companies. There is a good chance that manual loading of autoclaves will become less and less accepted, knowing that a single stack of trays or basket can already weigh between 800-1500 kg. Our automated shuttle does this heavy lifting effortlessly and without creating any risk to operators.

#4 - Food safety is key

 

By automating the autoclave sterilization process, the chance of errors is reduced. In addition, our software ensures that non-sterile products will never be packed. They always follow a standard path: first into the retort, then to the unloader. And finally, the heat process is always checked; has the product been sterilized according to the right process parameters? 100% food safety!

#5 - No more labour shortages!

 

Robots always check-in. They work 24 hours a day. All days of the year. Because heavy and repetitive work is not very attractive, food production companies are increasingly faced with labour shortages. An automated handling system can solve this problem, as in many cases only one person is needed for the operation. At the same time, it offers employees opportunities to develop in other key positions in the process where they can bring other and more relevant value.


Our handling solutions for autoclave sterilization

Retort room - Pouch handling

Pouch handling

Looking for a flexible solution for the handling of pouches? Benefit from our space-saving robot handling solution.

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canned food production line

Can and jar handling

Handling cans or jars? Check out our magnetic, vacuum or sweep solutions with a very high output – up to 1200 units per minute.

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Retort room Shuttle - Steriflow

Retort shuttle

Reduce your maintenance costs with our unique tongue solution that works without any mechanical parts in the retort.

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Autoclave sterilization

Semi-rigid container handling

Plastic or aluminium containers? Benefit from our high output linear or robotic solutions. Up to 500 units per minute.

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