New Ethylene Oxide Sterilisation facility signals key investment

29.02.2016 Richard Carter, Managing Director

Pelican Feminine Healthcare, part of the Eakin Group, has strengthened its position within the UK women’s health sector thanks to investment in a new Axis AX-10 Series sterilisation unit.

The investment of over £400,000 means Pelican Feminine Healthcare can now not only manufacture medical instruments on its site in Cardiff, but sterilise them as well, making it the only company in the UK capable of doing so and giving it a key competitive advantage over its competitors.

The company, which focuses on single-use medical instruments for Gynaecology and Obstetrics sees the new sterilisation unit as a key component in its growth and crucial to its vision of leading the UK women’s health sector.

Richard Carter, Managing Director of Pelican Feminine Healthcare explains: “Having this capability enables us to provide a quicker response to our customer’s requirements and lowers the carbon footprint by eliminating the 450 mile round journey for sterilisation. It is also planned that the excess capacity of the chambers can be utilised by other Welsh companies assisting medical device business development within Wales.”

The sterilisation unit uses Ethylene Oxide (EtO) to ensure products are 100 per cent ready for medical use and can handle a much wider range of materials compared to steam and dry heat processes. This includes, heat and non-heat resistant materials, rubber, metal, mechanical and electromechanical materials, surgical materials, and laboratory equipment.

Ethylene Oxide destroys microorganisms by alkylating (attaching to) enzymes and DNA and can operate in low temperatures. Among its many advantages are the fact it doesn’t deform the sterilised materials and is ideal for biomedical thermosensitive materials. It can penetrate inaccessible places of the materials and is very effective as germicide, fungicide and antivirus. It also provides enhanced safety for the user due to negative pressure in the tank and low gas consumption.

The sterilisation process takes eight hours to complete. During this time the temperature is maintained at 54˚ C and the items are exposed to the EtO gas. The cabinet is constantly under negative pressure with the pressure commencing at -50Kpa and rising to -22Kpa when the gas has entered the chamber. 

The main beneficiaries of Pelican’s new capability will be the NHS throughout the UK, Universities, as well as some clients in Southern Ireland. The unit will see approximately 5.25 million medical instruments pass through it every year.

In addition to the obvious time saving advantages to Pelican’s new capability there is also a major environmental benefit due to the big reduction in the company’s carbon footprint.

Mr Carter adds: “We currently send three truckloads of our product every two weeks to Derby in order to get them sterilised. Being able to do everything in-house is clearly far more beneficial, saves a huge amount of time and lowers our carbon footprint dramatically, which is very important. We expect to get payback on our investment in under two and a half years and are delighted with our new capabilities. It’s a big statement from us as a company and means exciting times are ahead.”

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