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Surgical Instrument Sterilizer

Overview

In the medical field, there is an instrument for everything. While the use of disposable instruments are growing in use throughout some procedures, the use of reusable instruments remain common. The utmost priority associated with the use of reusable instruments and other reusable supplies is sterility. Users need the sterilization process to be accessible, have a rapid cycle time, a large capacity, and a high level of sterility assurance (efficacy).

The sterilization system uses a combination of hydrogen peroxide vapor and low-temperature gas plasma to rapidly sterilize most medical instruments and materials without leaving toxic residue. With a small footprint, the system can easily be placed upon a counter top, however counter space is at a premium in many hospitals. Early user feedback revealed that an optional cart mounted system would add mobility and value to the customer.

Challenge

The compact sterilizer design required the compact footprint to be carried over into the design of the cart, while maintaining stability and mobility requirements. Adding to the challenge, the space-efficient system in weighed in at 276 pounds while the project requirements limited the cart’s weight to 150 pounds.

Given the weight of the sterilizer system and the hospitals need for mobility, weight distribution, and ergonomics, human-factors would be considerations to account for. Additional considerations of the impact and vibration forces placed upon the fully populated system and cart would need to be address.

Process

Driven by MPE’s Project Management, a cross disciplinary team of Industrial Design and Engineering kicked-off the development of the sterilizer cart with primary research and design ethnography. The team began with in-field observation and user interviews.  The research laid the ground work for ergonomic working heights of the system and identified valuable features to implement within the cart.

Industrial Design concentrated on addressing the ergonomics and value-added functionality of the design, with consideration to the overall aesthetic brand language of the combined system and cart.

Engineers focused on developing a stable platform for the top heavy configuration. Project specifications required the cart to support 450 pounds, withstand forces of vibration and to have mobility.

Collaborative team work, iterative prototype development, and testing drove the development to a finalized design.

Solution

A seamless aesthetic was accomplished through our team’s attention to detail and through the integration of brand language and design intent.

The otherwise stationary sterilizing system achieved more than mobility with the design of the cart. The Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback led the team to identify and to incorporate several value-added features and functionality to the sterilizer cart while maintaining overall costs. Outside of the stand and mobility aspect, the most significant values to the user include a storage drawer, additional lower storage and a pull-out work surface.

Results

After the successful development and launch of the sterilizer cart, MPE’s team was awarded full circle development and manufacturing of the second generation Sterilizer Cart which is in process currently.

The development of the first cart has positively impacted the development process of the second generation design. Functionality and ergonomic factors from the first cart were maintained which reduced the development timeline of this next generation cart. Similarly, many of the existing components carried over to the redesign.

Production plans are in process with a launch date on the horizon.