We will consider some important features available in the various mobile cart options throughout the internet. This article focuses on three of those features and will compare them to clean room carts and laboratory carts. This comparison is meant to help readers select the correct cart for their specific application. The three features we will be considering are (1) connection types (2) materials and (3) design.
Carts are assembled in many ways and can have various types of connections. It is important to be aware of these since one type may be applicable to you and another may not. A few common connection types can be the use of rivets or bolts to connect frame members to other components.
This is an inexpensive and simple method of assembling the cart. However, with this method the cart will be subject to these connections becoming loose and risk coming apart. This can be an obvious safety issue for the operator and a quality issue for the items on the cart. The items being carried on the cart can become damaged. The operator can also be harmed during such an incident.
A cart that is riveted or bolted together is acceptable in certain areas. One area is where the items the cart will be carrying are light weight. If the cart is meant for light duty applications then it is likely it will hold together sufficiently for the life of the cart.
Another area is where the cart will not need frequent cleaning and sanitizations. Each connection produces a seam where dirt and debris will collect. It is too difficult to ensure these types of carts are thoroughly cleaned if it is to be used in controlled environments such as clean rooms. Therefore, they should only be used in laboratories or packaging areas where the environments are less strictly controlled.
A second connection type is a welded connection. This is a more complex and expensive option but yields much better results. One advantage is the number of seams is reduced by welding many areas of the cart instead of bolting or riveting them together. This assists in cleanability and increases effectiveness of sanitization. This option is critical for areas such as clean rooms where the cart is being cleaned often.
The material of the cart can vary greatly between a clean room cart and a laboratory cart. The material the cart is constructed from contributes largely to it’s strength and durability. It is vital to select the appropriate material for the specific environment it will be used in.
Carts made of plastics can be utilized for their specific chemical resistances while painted or chrome plated steel can be used due to their low cost. While plastic carts offer certain advantages to transporting chemicals they do not offer any advantages in durability and cleanability. Additionally, painted or chrome plated steel carts offer durability and strength but very little for corrosion and chemical resistance.
An alternative material in the construction of carts is the use of stainless steel. This option being more expensive but offering greater capabilities in environment-controlled areas. Stainless enables the fabricator to weld components together versus bolting or riveting them together. As discussed in the previous section, this reduces the number of dirt harboring seams and increases it’s cleanability. Stainless steel carts also have good chemical resistance and excellent corrosion resistance similar to that of the plastic carts. However, stainless steel provides the strength and durability of a plain steel cart.
The third and final feature that sets clean room carts apart form laboratory carts is the design of the cart. This design is what determines the combination of the previously discussed areas of (1) connection types and (2) materials.
The design of a laboratory cart is much broader in scope since it doesn’t have the same requirements of a clean room cart. Thus, we find these carts in a broad spectrum of materials and with various connection types. Typically making them an inexpensive option.
A clean room cart’s design is more specific and rigid. It has to withstand harsh environments where corrosive sanitizing agents are routinely used. The design needs to allow for easy cleaning with fewer seams. These carts are also constructed of thicker materials for high strength. They are typically intended for industrial use because they are under a heavier load.
While a slightly less common application it is still important to consider the ability to be used in an autoclave. Carts must be specifically designed to have this ability due to the high temperatures of an autoclave. It must consist entirely of a high temperature materials, welded construction, and corrosion resistance. As discussed, a clean room cart should already be constructed from stainless steel and welded together making it a perfect candidate for an autoclave cart.
Note there is one important adjustment to make to a properly designed clean room cart to make it autoclavable. Let’s consider the material of the wheel on the caster. There are many acceptable materials for a wheel. One common choice is a non-marring and non-damaging material. This ensures the facilities floors stay clean and undamaged. However, many of those materials are not capable of standing the high temperatures of an autoclave. By simply changing the wheel to a higher temp material you can make the clean room cart autoclavable.
A welded stainless steel cart creates benefits across several areas we have discussed. Welding the different stainless components of the cart together contributes to:
- Higher cleanability and sanitization assurance
- Greater durability and strength
- Longer service life
- Greater capabilities such as use in an autoclave
Whether the application for your cart is the laboratory of the clean room please keep in mind the factors that have been discussed. Considering these 3 critical areas will help you to pick the correct cart for the correct application.