The Steris Corporation has been at the forefront of medical innovations for more than a century, providing high-quality products for hospitals and the healthcare industry. The low-temperature, liquid sterilisation process pioneered by Steris in the 1980s was the first that could be used safely on heat-sensitive equipment.
The company has three global business arms – Steris, Amsco International and Albert Browne Ltd – and is an industry leader in its field, with expertise in creating sterile environments and equipment for hospitals dating back to the late 19th century.
Steris Corp was founded in 1985 by American entrepreneur Dr Raymond Kralovic. As a leader in the field of sterilisation, he worked for Pittsburgh-based American Steriliser Co at the time. He developed a new technique for sterilising the surgical instruments used in procedures such as arthroscopy and endoscopy.
The traditional process was time-consuming and involved using strong disinfectants and high temperatures. However, the delicate, heat-sensitive instruments were unable to withstand the intensive sterilisation process, so Kralovic began developing a faster, low-temperature sterilisation system.
When his employer was unwilling to further develop his idea, Kralovic left in order to seek funding to manufacture the product himself. He contacted healthcare consultant Bill Sanford, who had a reputation for being interested in medical technology.
Sanford was convinced of the new sterilisation system’s potential and hence Steris was formed, with Sanford becoming the company’s first CEO – a position he held until his retirement in 2000. In 1988, the Steris Corporation launched its flagship product: the SYSTEM 1 liquid chemical sterilant processing system.
Steris continued to grow, thanks to a series of acquisitions. First it acquired Amsco International in 1996, enabling the production of a more comprehensive line of sterilisation equipment. This also led to a range of consumable products for healthcare and life science organisations, in addition to operating room equipment.
Amsco was already a well-established pioneer in sterilisation equipment, having been founded in 1894 by J Everett and George Hall of the American Steriliser Company. They founded the asepsis environment of modern-day hospitals by creating the practice of a sterile operating room and treatment facilities.
Amsco’s name has become legendary for producing sterilisers, operating room tables, surgical lights and sterility assurance products.
Albert Browne Ltd
In 1997, Steris purchased New Jersey-based Isomedix Inc, which provided contract sterilisation services in the US, Puerto Rico and Canada to manufacturers of pre-packed medical equipment and consumer products.
This was followed by the acquisition of the UK company, Albert Browne Ltd, in 2004 – a business founded by Albert Browne in 1870. During the company’s long and distinguished history, it has become known for being a leader in the sterilisation monitoring systems sector.
Browne indicators use bright, easily interpreted colour changes, based on an environmentally friendly ethos, thanks to an absence of lead and heavy metals in the manufacturing process. The importance of Browne’s indicators was firmly established in 1931, when there was an outbreak of fever in the maternity unit of a Sheffield hospital.
Thanks to the indicators, the cause of the fever outbreak was traced to a steriliser operator, who was operating the unit incorrectly. As a result, it appeared the equipment hadn’t been sterilised at all. After the Browne indicator pinpointed the problem, it was developed further and mass marketed.
This led to the development of the Browne Steriliser Control Tube, which initially monitored the time and temperature during the sterilisation process. This provided the basis of today’s TST (Time, Steam, Temperature) range of products that chemically monitor all three parameters – and from a technical point of view, they provide the best method in the world. The TST product range contains a chemical ink that changes from yellow to purple when the required criteria for steam sterilisation have been satisfied.
Steris Corporation continues to go from strength to strength and following the death of Raymond Kralovic at the age of 73 in 2013, his legacy lives on, as his company continues to be the leading developer, manufacturer and supplier of sterilisation products for the healthcare industry.
Automatic Access was commissioned to fit specialist ATEX Fire doors and a specialist Pneumatic Door Operator in Steris’ new factory at Syston in Leicester – the area was very sensitive to inflammables, so we could not use our normal electro/mechanical operator.
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