Posts by Meredith

About Meredith:

Meredith joined MadgeTech in May of 2014 as the Market Research and Content Manager. Throughout her time with the company, Meredith has published a volume of written and visual content, some of which has been featured in Food Quality Magazine. Meredith graduated from the College of Saint Joseph in Vermont where she majored in Business Administration and earned a double minor in Accounting and English. Outside of work, Meredith enjoys spending time with her dogs and enjoying outdoor life in New England.

MadgeTech Cooling Flags Benefit the Meat and Poultry Industry

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The cooking of meat is a regulated process that requires temperature values to meet standards within the regulated period of time, even throughout the cooling process. Exclusively used in the meat and poultry industry, cooling flags can track the cooling of smoked or cooked meats.

Verification of the cooling process must be available for compliance validation. Data loggers are used to record and track the specified cooking and cooling temperatures. Within the MadgeTech 4 Data Logging Software, the cooling flags feature inserts annotations within a graph that specify (flag) when certain temperature thresholds are met as the meat cools.

When the temperature drops and a cooling flag is reached, but the temperature then rises above this cooling flag by 5 degrees or more, the software knows something is wrong. An alert is then generated and any other cooling flags that are set will be cancelled. This notifies the user immediately, providing the opportunity to correct the problem before the product is compromised. 

In the meat industry, the RFOT Wireless Meat Data Logger is widely used and built to last. This data logger can withstand the harsh smokehouse environment while accurately recording internal meat temperature with its built-in rugged probe.

With a Madgetech wireless data logger, cooling flags are displayed within the software while the data logger is in use, giving you real-time updates. The use of multiple cooling flags allows you to see how much time has passed between each flag while also allowing you to monitor the cooling process for multiple, consecutive cycles.

A cooling flag data summary is displayed in the Report Properties, clearly and concisely, making the information available for records or reference. This feature saves time and simplifies the reporting process required for product safety validation.

MadgeTech continues to develop features and improvements that assist meat, poultry and food processors with simplified compliance and validation. To learn more about the MadgeTech Data Logger Software, click here.

Top 3 Challenges Facing Facilities Engineers

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Top 3 Challenges Facing Facilities Engineers

Behind every great business or laboratory, there’s at least one great facilities engineer. Facility engineers are responsible for the overall functionality and operation of the buildings at which they work and the complex systems within them including electricity and HVAC.

If that sounds like a lot of responsibility, it is! Here are just a few of the toughest challenges that define the facilities engineering profession:

Creating a Safe Environment

When it comes to facilities engineering, the old expression “safety first” holds true. Facilities engineers are responsible for ensuring all Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are upheld at their workplace in addition to other state and local safety requirements. Engineers are often also expected to teach that information forward to colleagues to ensure a consistent, facility-wide knowledge base.

Guiding safety in the workplace means that facilities engineers also regularly check all equipment and systems throughout the building to verify that they are operating as intended. Flaws or malfunctions in electrical, HVAC or mechanical equipment can all lead to significant human injury or death, so a good facilities engineer never uses the “eyeball test” to monitor his or her workplace. Instead, facilities engineers must establish a monitoring schedule and verification protocol to ensure worker safety at all times.

Maintaining an Energy Efficient Facility

If safety is the facilities manager’s greatest moral obligation, then maintaining efficiency is his or her greatest economic obligation. In the manufacturing, laboratory and cold storage industries, energy use can be one of the steepest costs of operation. One of a facilities engineer’s key responsibilities is to ensure that building energy use is optimized in every way possible.

Whether checking an HVAC system for leaks, measuring voltage drawn by equipment or auditing points of building heat loss, facilities engineers are tasked with keeping their workplace efficient in every way possible to maintain profitability and lower overhead. This requires facilities engineers to have a wide, general knowledge of electrical engineering and energy auditing. They must be aware of not just the facility’s energy needs, but those of each individual division, room or piece of equipment. This knowledge, combined with regular audits and validation protocols, provides engineers with the best chance to eliminate inefficiencies.

Supporting Regulatory Compliance

While regulatory paperwork and documentation are often handled by a compliance engineer, ensuring that equipment operates in a manner that maintains a compliant environment often falls to facilities engineers. If a cooling system is malfunctioning, for example, it’s impossible for a meat packing facility to process meat in a compliant manner. If a hospital has malfunctioning electrical outlets, it will be extremely challenging to store vaccines at regulation temperatures or sterilize tools as required.

This means that a strong facilities engineer must have an understanding of the regulatory requirements that his or her employer is beholden to and also be equipped with the proper measurement and testing tools to validate that regulatory conditions are being met. Regulations can actual be beneficial to a facilities engineer or manager when developing an action plan because they establish benchmarks for how various systems throughout a facility ought to operate. These let the engineer know exactly what his or her goals for maintaining systems operation look like.

By protecting their co-workers, fostering a culture of efficiency and ensuring their workplaces uphold federal regulations, facilities managers earn their keep as the unsung heroes of the industrial world.

Top 5 Causes of Steam Sterilization Failure

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Autoclaves are valuable tools that benefit a wide range of industries. In healthcare settings, autoclaves protect patients by eliminating pathogens from tools and equipment. In the laboratory, autoclaves provide scientists with assurance that they have eliminated biological factors that may interfere with their results. In manufacturing facilities, autoclaves are used in a variety of innovative ways to create new products and materials such as aerated concrete.  

When autoclaves don’t work properly, however, they’re not benefiting anybody. Here are some of the most common reasons that steam autoclave sterilization cycles fail:  

Choosing the Wrong Cycle for Autoclave Contents  

Nobody wants to hear that they’re the problem, but human error is at the root of many cases of sterilization failure.  

While a steam autoclave can process a variety of different objects, not all materials can be sterilized in the same manner. For example, if you are sterilizing wrapped medical tools using your autoclave’s gravity cycle, sterilizing steam may not be reaching every part of your instruments.  

If you experience a sterilization failure, begin by looking back at where you started and consider if you chose the correct cycle for the autoclave’s contents. You can learn more about which sterilization cycles are appropriate for different materials by checking out our “What Kind of Autoclave Cycle Do I Need for My Work?” post.  

Inappropriate Packing or Loading  

While some objects, such as large glassware, may go into the autoclave completely uncovered, many smaller objects must be packed or wrapped prior to sterilization. Wrapping ensures that sterilizing steam reaches all materials in an even manner.  

When a packet of materials is not wrapped correctly, though, it may interfere with your autoclave’s ability to sterilize. This is another example of how human error may be interfering with your sterilization cycle.  

Additionally, when loading the autoclave chamber, technicians should place materials based on the equipment manufacturer’s guidance. If your autoclave is not loaded the way the manufacturer intended, it may not work properly.  

Proper wrapping and loading protocols should be part of training for medical and dental assistants, sterilization engineers, laboratory technicians or any other professionals who may be responsible for preparing materials to be placed into an autoclave.  

Poor Steam Quality  

If you’re seeing wet packets and materials after a sterilization cycle, your autoclave may be suffering from poor steam quality.  

Low steam quality can be created by a variety of factors. If the “weight” (water content) of the steam is outside of desired parameters, it may interfere with the autoclave’s ability to function as designed. Superheated steam – steam heated above the point at which all liquid has vaporized – is also considered low quality for sterilization.  

To understand your steam production, it’s important to have a clear picture of both temperature and pressure within the autoclave chamber. Measurement devices, such as data loggers, are useful in creating these profiles.  

Vacuum Failure  

If you’re sterilizing small, porous or irregularly-shaped materials, you need to be using a vacuum sterilization cycle. In a vacuum cycle, all air is forcibly removed from the autoclave during preconditioning. This allows sterilizing steam to reach every nook and cranny of your contents.  

If your autoclave is not able to create adequate vacuum conditions, your sterilization cycle will fail.   The most straightforward way to learn if you have a vacuum failure is to use a Bowie-Dick test. The Bowie-Dick test is a specialized test sheet that uses steam and air barriers to validate that your autoclave is producing the proper vacuum environment for steam production and sterilization.  

To learn more about how the Bowie-Dick test is beneficial to autoclave owners, download a free copy of our Autoclave Validation Guide!

Inadequate Temperatures  

Steam sterilization simply doesn’t work without high temperatures. The specific temperature at which you will be sterilizing will depend on a variety of factors such as the materials you’re sterilizing, the nature of your work and good manufacturing or laboratory practices.  

Temperatures within the autoclave can be double-checked or validated using a temperature data logger or similar device. If your autoclave isn’t reaching 100 °C, it can’t produce steam at all! If it’s not reaching 121 °C, it isn’t reaching the threshold required for sterilization.  

Create a study of autoclave temperatures throughout your sterilization cycle to determine if you’re reaching adequate conditions for sterilization.  

Whether it’s human error or equipment malfunction, sterilization failures can cost businesses and laboratories valuable time and money. To keep this from happening to you, make sure you have an autoclave validation plan in place and train any autoclave users in proper preparation and use of the device.  

To learn more, download the free guide!