Zoo News: December 2022

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CeoSeason’s Greetings and thank you to all of our customers for working with us to make 2022 another strong year at Atherton. Like most in the manufacturing industry, we have faced significant supply chain issues throughout the year which presented us with unique challenges and I would personally like to thank those who have been affected for their patience and perseverance. We hope that we have seen the worst of this now and 2023 will see a smoother experience for all.

I would also like to thank the entire Atherton Team for their dedication and commitment this year. I really appreciate the drive that is demonstrated across the whole business, without which we wouldn’t be here. A special thanks to Daniel Grant and James O’Neil for their help with installations in Victoria over the last month.

It has been a period of growth at Atherton and we are very excited to have a number of new team members joining us in the last few months. Welcome to Elizabeth Rohde – Service Coordinator, Daniel Gutsell- Service Technician, Leigh Peterson – Installation Manager, Deasyll  Albretch- Service Technician, and Mark Durrant- Service Technician.

Finally thank you to all of the team and all of our customers, on behalf of Atherton I would like to wish you all a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a wonderful New Year’s. We look forward to working with you all in 2023.


New Horizontal Borer at Atherton.


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Atherton received delivery of our brand-new horizontal borer in July this year and following an extensive installation and commissioning period is now ready to be put to work in our manufacturing facility here in Melbourne.

The massive piece of equipment is used to smooth out metal to create a perfectly even surface – something that is essential for the inside of our sterilizer doors and for the gasket retainer on sterilizer chambers.

The heat generated from welding expands and warps the metal and creates uneven surfaces so we use the horizontal borer to grind a perfectly even surface, ensuring our sterilizers work to the highest levels of efficiency.

This new borer helps future proof manufacturing locally here in Australia and is the largest Atherton has ever used. It will enable us to manufacture premium quality sterilizers more efficiently and incorporates a larger bed area allowing us to work on bigger chambers should it be required in the future.


Australian Made and Owned


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This year Atherton was very proud to be certified as an Australian-owned sterilization and infection control manufacturer – designing and building world-class products for the hospital, medical, scientific and food industries for more than 130 years.

This certification, from Australian Owned, reflects Atherton’s important place in the Australian healthcare manufacturing industry and our commitment to making and supporting world-class infection control equipment. It also reflects our commitment to developing the skills and knowledge to support the local industry for generations to come. Atherton has six apprentices at the moment who are just starting their careers and who are working alongside staff who have been with us for incredible tenures including 22 staff with more than 20 years and five with more than 40 years, including Wayne Bott who has been working sheetmetal at Atherton for 55 years


Why steam quality matters


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In the last issue of Zoo News we had an article explaining the Importance of Clean Steam, ie. water purity testing. Steam purity tests are performed in order to measure contaminants that may be present in the steam and are important for many reasons.

It is a requirement of standards to test for both purity and the quality of the steam used for sterilization purposes but what is the difference between steam purity and steam quality, and why are both important to achieving effective sterilization?

Steam quality is a measure of

  • non-condensable gas content
  • superheat, and
  • dryness fraction.

 Why is steam quality so important?
Steam under pressure at 203kPa has a temperature of 134°C. When it meets a cool object, for example an item of equipment in a sterilizer, it condenses and cools giving up heat. It is the energy associated with this heat which is responsible for the sterilizing effect of steam. Without direct steam contact to all surfaces, the item will not be sterilized. The amount of energy stored in steam is much higher than dry air at the same temperature.

But this energy release, and the subsequent killing of microorganisms effect, can only occur if the steam is on the point of condensing. It is what we call dry, saturated steam. The temperature of saturated steam is directly related to its pressure, meaning that controlling the steam temperature is as easy as increasing or decreasing the steam pressure.

Non-condensable gas
Air is the biggest deterrent to steam sterilization. Air must be removed from the chamber and the load before direct steam contact and sterilization can occur. This is accomplished in a steam sterilizer by a series of vacuum pulses prior to sterilization (pre-conditioning phase).

The most common causes of sterilization failures are insufficient air removal, chamber vacuum leaks and poor steam quality due to excess non-condensable gases. If steam contains significant quantities of non-condensable gases (air or other gases which don’t condense into water when cooled) then these gases can accumulate within the equipment to be sterilized and insulate against the sterilizing effects of steam by preventing the steam from coming into direct contact with a non-sterile surface and releasing its energy.

Common causes of non-condensable gases include:

  • poor steam generator design or performance
  • ingress of air into steam distribution systems via faulty pipework or valves

Superheated Steam
If saturated steam is heated further, it is no longer at the point of condensing and so will not give up its latent heat on contact with a cooler object. Thus, superheated steam is an ineffective sterilising medium.

Common causes of superheated steam are:

  • additional external heating, for example by an autoclave jacket which is far hotter than the chamber.
  • rapid expansion of the steam from a narrow distribution pipe into a large autoclave chamber, which is called adiabatic expansion.

Steam Dryness
Steam containing droplets of water will be wet, which will both reduce its efficiency as a sterilizing medium and may also result in wet loads.

Common causes of wet steam include:

  • failure to remove entrained water droplets in the steam generator
  • inadequate condensate removal from the steam distribution system.

Steam quality testing – How Atherton can help.
As per AS/NZS 4187 clause, a steam quality test shall be performed upon installation, relocation or if there is a change to the steam supply.

Atherton provides a range of testing and validation services to ensure steam and water quality and purity are in line with relevant standards and safe for patients and equipment. These include steam quality and steam sterilizer purity testing, water quality boiler feed generator testing, and water quality washer-disinfector testing. For more information on these services or to speak with one of our Customer Service team email salesandservice@atherton.net or phone 1300 580 870.



Stormy weather can ruin more than your BBQ this summer.


The stormy electrical weather much of the country has been experiencing can also affect your sterilizers. Strong electrical storms can sometimes cause faults with sterilizers so it’s a good idea to check that there is water still getting to the units. These electrical faults and power interruptions can make the compressor trip out and will require turning back on to get air to the unit. In addition, sometimes the RO unit will need resetting to refill the tank. Checking these two elements, especially after a particularly wild storm, can save time lost waiting for a service call and save money in a call out.




Atherton Study Days


We are pleased to announce the Atherton Study Days for 2023.  Seats are now available for those who wish to plan for their training for next year. These in-house training sessions offer an opportunity for new and experienced CSSD staff to learn about steam and low-temperature sterilization, mechanical decontamination and validation while getting hands-on with the equipment. The day also includes a tour of the facilities where our world-class sterilizers are manufactured.

April 20
July 20
September 21
November 23

Atherton Head Office, 372-376 Darebin Road, Alphington. Victoria

Numbers are limited so get in early. To book call Customer Service on 1300 580 870 or salesandservice@atherton.net to reserve a place. Tea and coffee along with a light lunch will be provided. Closed shoes must be worn for the factory tour.



Atherton Study Days
April 20
July 20
September 21
November 23

Atherton Head Office, 372-376 Darebin Road, Alphington. Victoria

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