Tactrol® Autoclave Control System: 12 Functions and 88 Secrets

On the surface, it seems like there is a wide range of autoclave control systems available. At one end of the spectrum you have small dental-office sterilizers with their four push-button presets. Only three of those are actual sterilization cycles, but it’s easy to operate and very convenient—provided you only ever sterilize clean glassware or medical instruments.

On the other end of the spectrum are high-end hospital autoclaves with full-color LCD touchscreens. These advanced interfaces promise the best of both worlds: One-touch operation for daily tasks, plus the ability to drill down into all those submenus and craft custom programs.

Leaving aside the folly of installing a delicate electronic interface on the front of a hot, steamy box, these touchscreen LCD interfaces are still often a disappointment. The menu systems are a poor fit to many research labs: low-contrast screens with nested menus are hard to navigate while wearing goggles and latex gloves. Even daily tasks are buried in that nested menu system—and, despite the menus within menus, many such control systems still limit you to “factory-recommended cycles” or variations of those presets.

In the end, these flashy touch-screen interfaces are complicated, but offer none of the benefits of actual complexity.

Good Autoclave Control Systems Harness Complexity Without Being Complicated

Easy tasks should be easy. If you run the same media-prep cycle every morning, then you should be able to load the autoclave, push a single button, hit START, and walk away. That said, your autoclave is a powerful tool; just because you start every morning prepping media doesn’t mean that all you want to do is prep media. A good design harnesses complexity and makes it convenient.

Priorclave’s Tactrol control system allows for complete access to every operating parameter, but is still as easy to operate as your microwave oven. Need to run a simple cycle? Punch in a temperature and a time, hit START, and walk away. If you run that same cycle every day, then make it a pre-set for one-touch convenience.

But with Tactrol you aren’t limited to some engineer’s idea of what’s “convenient.” You can initiate a custom cycle right from the unit’s front panel—and you won’t need to break out an inch-thick user’s manual or peel off your gloves to do it: All 12 essential sterilizer functions are directly accessible from the control panel:

  1. Cycle Start
  2. Chamber Venting
  3. Door Release
  4. Chamber/Sterilizing Temperature
  5. Sterilizing Time
  6. Optional Pre-set Custom Programs
  7. Timed Freesteaming
  8. Optional Load Sensed Process Timing
  9. Assisted Load Cooling
  10. Media Warming
  11. Optional Vacuum Features
  12. Delayed Start
Tactrol® Control System
Tactrol® Control System front panel

Highlights of the 12 Functions at your Fingertips

  • Media sterilization and preparation is a primary task in many labs, so all Priorclave units come with a standard Media Warming cycle. In conjunction with the Delayed Start function, growth media can be loaded at the end of the day for overnight processing. Your lab media will be sterile and ready to pour when the first researchers arrive the next morning—with no risk of accidentally caramelizing high-glucose media or spoiling a batch because someone got distracted.
  • Delayed Start isn’t limited to the Media Warming cycle; any cycle can be assigned a Delayed Start. Your schedule will no longer be dictated by the limitations of your equipment.
  • Tactrol uses a permission-based Door Release with both thermal and pressure interlocks; under normal operating conditions it’s impossible to unsafely open a Priorclave autoclave.
  • In contrast to many comparable units—especially among the smaller freestanding and tabletop autoclavesSterilizing Temperature and Time aren’t locked together in “optimal cycles” as determined by one set of designers for some specific industry; they can be independently assigned on the fly.
  • Timed Freesteaming removes the air burden from difficult loads such as plastic waste, and can also be used to quickly melt pre-sterilized growth media.
  • Large and dense loads are a special challenge for any autoclave. Load Sensed Process Timing delays the start of the cycle timer until a wandering probe reaches the desired sterilizing temperature.
  • Assisted Load Cooling reduces cycle time. Cooling can be triggered at the end of the sterilizing hold time, at a pre-set temperature, or not at all.
  • For labs with tighter schedules, Vacuum Options (such as pre-cycle chamber evacuation and post-cycle drying) will reduce total cycle time without lowering standards.
  • Any cycle—no matter how complex—can be assigned to a Pre-set Custom Program for fool-proof one-touch operation.

Exploring the 88 Secrets

Tactrol’s Pre-set Custom Programs allow for unparalleled cycle customization—the “88 secrets” of the Tactrol system.

Each pre-set program can be specified along 88 individual functional parameters—not just the dozen standard functions available from the control panel, but also temperature overshoot, air ballast control, vent operation, precision temperature variation, and more. There are also numerous options for customizing and managing both hardcopy logs (produced by the optional on-board plain-paper printer) and for the electronic cycle logging. Finally, the Tactrol system allows direct access to dozens of analog and digital inputs and outputs, allowing you to individually calibrate temperature and pressure probes, and directly control the pumps, valves, solenoids, and other essential components. Comparable autoclaves cannot offer this level of control or customization.

Because adjusting these 88 parameters calls for a degree of technical training (there is some risk of creating hazards) Priorclave offers free lifetime technical support for Tactrol programming. And that’s not just a perk we throw in for big clients who buy six double-ended autoclaves big enough to process small automobiles; every Priorclave owner, big or small, has our lifetime guarantee: The help you need is just a phone call away.