How Ultrasonic Washers for Surgical Instruments Prevent HAIs

HAIs Cost Hospitals $16.6 Billion Per Year

ultrasonic washers for surgical instrumentsAccording to Public Health Reports, approximately 1.7 million cases of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) occur every year. Hospital Topics estimates hospitals spend $16.6 billion on HAIs per year. The World Health Organization calculated 9.3 infections per 1,000 patient days. Many of these infections are due to the use of improperly cleaned surgical instruments on patients. While we have a long way to go toward eliminating HAIs, there is one way that could drastically reduce them. Read on to find out how ultrasonic washers work smarter and faster to make surgical instruments cleaner and safer for use than manual washing or other washing machines.

The Risk of Improperly Cleaned Surgical Instruments

Bioburden can still remain on surgical instruments even after washing. Manual cleaning instruments may not effectively reach every nook and cranny, especially of a cannulated instrument. The performance, training, and types of tools available to staff also affects how thoroughly the tools are cleaned. Most washing machines only wash the tools (instead of disinfecting them), which may not remove all microscopic residues. This bacteria in this residue can spread, which allows room for major complications in what may be an otherwise simple surgery. Would you want surgical tools with residue from the previous surgery used on you or your loved one?

Ultrasonic Washers Guarantee Cleaner Instruments

An ultrasonic washer is a solution that goes above and beyond, guaranteeing cleaner, faster results every time. By using a combination of disinfecting processes, the ultrasonic washers clean instruments inside and out in less than 40 minutes.

So how does it work? A 9-step process leaves instruments thoroughly cleaned inside and out.

  1. Instruments are loaded into the washer. Cannulated instruments are attached to one of 24 ports, and non-cannulated instruments are placed in the tray. You can use your own baskets or new ones.
  2. Push the start button—that’s it. The washer will take care of the rest of the cycle automatically.surgical tool ultrasonic automatic washer
  3. The tank fills and the ports are flushed with 120°F water and enzymatic solution, which the instruments soak in for 21 minutes. This loosens any debris in preparation for the next steps.
  4. The washer flushes a mixture of air and fresh water through the ports. Due to ultrasonic action, microbubbles formed within the tube implode to dislodge any bioburden.
  5. The ports flush 196°F fresh water through the cannulated instruments for four minutes. This occurs three separate times in one wash cycle.
  6. The drains open to empty the wash tank.
  7. An 196°F fresh water spray rinses the exterior of the instruments for another four minutes.
  8. A two-minute cold water ozone spray removed contaminates without leaving chemical deposits.
  9. A staff member removes the tools from the washer, which are ready for the sterilization process.

Take Charge of Your Hospital’s Patient Safety

If you want a fast way to improve patient safety and satisfaction, contact Southwest Solutions Group® for a free consultation to see if the ultrasonic washer is the right choice for your hospital. We strive to find the right solution that meets all of our client’s varied needs. For more information or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


How an Organized Data Center Maintains Efficiency & Security

data center cagesAccording to a global market survey, data center construction is expected to grow at a rate of 21% through 2018. Though an increasing number of business functions are going digital, this fact, along with the increasing complexity of data center needs and operations, is pushing more businesses to utilize co-location facilities over internal data centers. With such vital functions and equipment, maintaining an organized data center with proper security and storage should be a paramount concern.

Wire Cages for An Organized Data Center

Most data centers utilize wire cages and partitions to segregate servers and equipment. Partitions allow you to create cages of varying sizes and shapes with the flexibility to reconfigure or relocate them in the future. The wire construction also allows free air flow, which keeps equipment from overheating, reduces air conditioning costs, and allows integration with fire suppression systems.

Planning for Future Growth

Having an organized data center not only benefits you in the present, but allows your business to plan for scalability and growth into the future as your needs inevitably change. Wire partitions allow you to reconfigure or add to your layout at any point in time. If you need to add additional servers or equipment, an organized system keeps you from spending extra time trying to figure out where everything needs to go.

Streamlined Workflow

organized data centerAn organized data center goes a long way towards productivity gains, as this allows users to quickly find and access what they need. A logically organized, cleaned, and maintained area makes maintenance and inspections quick, easy, and thorough. Instead of wasting time finding which cable goes to which piece of equipment, you can spend more time on the things that matter—like the optimization of your data center as a whole.

Security & Peace of Mind

Wire partitions provide more than just organization. They also help keep your data center and your important equipment secure. While cyber hacks are a huge concern for businesses, physical theft and tampering is still an issue as well. We can design the partitions with almost any type of lock, from basic key locks to digital card and biometric fingerprint readers. There’s no need to sacrifice organization for better security when you use wire partitions for your data center segregation.

We Can Help

Want organize your data center, or improve on what you already have? Southwest Solutions Group® would be happy to help you identify and meet your needs for your data center. Once we’ve identified your needs, we’ll provide a complete and scalable solution that allows you to grow well into the future.

For more information or to speak with one of our trained specialists, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


Scanning for Juvenile Probation Case Files with Barcode Tracking

Converting paper files to digital documents is a great way to speed up juvenile case files through the courts and keep track of active and inactive files within the system. However, the scanning process itself can be time-consuming, and these records require utmost security throughout the entire process. That’s why Southwest Solutions Group® was contracted to provide our experienced team of records and IT specialists to devise a plan and complete document preparation, scanning, tracking, and quality control for over 10,500 active and pending probation case files of multiple types.

Secure On-Site Scanning Protects All Documents

The probation case files included custody files, treatment files, and other miscellaneous files. Since these records contained sensitive and personal information, any scanning  process would need to provide tracking for every item on a constant basis. Southwest Solutions Group was chosen thanks to their advanced tracking capabilities and complete CJIS compliance, since the probations department wasn’t willing to leave any room for errors or security breaches.probation records scanning

To lessen the burden on the probation department and speed up the scanning process, SSG provided scanning equipment, capture software, tracking software, and interfacing software for uploading the records into the department’s own document management system. This way, the department’s resources weren’t strained beyond the initial interface setup.

Due to the sensitive nature of the documents, the document management team had to do all scanning and digitization processes on-site. This was made more difficult by the fact that the department was spread across three locations, but all documents relied on one system.

Additionally, files needed to be separated into two groups: scan and retain or scan and shred. SSG modified their tracking software so that each case file was assigned two unique barcode labels depending on whether the document was to be retained or shredded. This eliminated any confusion and errors, like accidentally shredding a document that was supposed to be kept.

Project Scope

  • 10,500+ files scanned
  • 2,670,000 images scanned
  • Multiple file types (supervision, custody, INS, & treatment reports)
  • Barcode tracking implemented for all records
  • Document prep and pagination of wet signature documents
  • Re-assembly and return of documents after scanning & digitization
  • Quality assurance for all documents
  • Custom middleware provided from SSG to allow seamless upload
  • Completed scanning process completed on-site across three locations
  • Project completed ahead of schedule

Contact Us About Document Scanning

If you’ve been wanting to scan and digitize some or all of your paper records, Southwest Solutions Group has you covered. With complete CJIS and HIPAA compliance, SSG can scan and upload even your most sensitive and confidential documents securely. Our barcode tracking will keep you informed throughout the entire process so you’re always in the loop.

Still not sure? We will be happy to scan, index, and upload a box of your records for FREE before you commit to buying anything so you can see how our process works. For more information or to speak with our document management specialists, call us toll free at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


VLMs with Dry Fire Suppression Systems for MRO Aircraft Maintenance

VLM Automated Storage with Unique Features

vlm MRO parts storage traysAn MRO facility for aircraft maintenance stored parts and equipment in a vertical carousel installed by Southwest Solutions Group all the way back in 1973. After 20 years of service, they decided it was time to upgrade their storage and called on SSG to install a brand new VLM (vertical lift module) in its place. What’s unique about this application is the facility’s need for a dry fire suppression system, which needed to be both out of the way and easily accessed.

The Right Time for New Innovations

The vertical carousel served the facility well throughout its 20 years of use, but it was time to move on to new and upgraded technology.

We deployed a 28′ tall vertical lift module as well as its integrated inventory management software. VLMs also provide more durability and security than their old vertical carousel. While vertical carousels are overloaded by heavier items, vertical lifts provide the flexibility to store and distribute items of varying weights.

Customized tray divider sets provided an inexpensive way to subset their inventory for easy picking and identification. These adjustable trays, along with the VLM’s flexibility, also allowed them to store small and large parts within the same unit. Small parts as well as bulky items such as clutches and motors are stored in one centralized location, making them easy for staff to find and retrieve.

Dry Fire Suppression Keeps Stored Items Safe

dry fire suppression system on vertical lift moduleIn the event of a fire, the MRO facility also had to make sure that none of their valuable equipment or parts aren’t destroyed during fire fighting operations. While VLMs have built-in sprinklers, these could damage stored items irreparably. The dry fire suppression system, instead of water, releases an aerosol chemical when triggered by an alarm or a pre-set temperature.

The small control unit is mounted to the side of the VLM—out of the way, but easy for users to access in an emergency. It’s also easy to use, requires minimal power, and is much less complex than a conventional wet fire suppression system.

The VLM includes a variety of additional safety features, including dual smoke detectors, an emergency pulley, and an emergency stop and override to make the system as safe as possible. A controlled access shutter door keeps items secure.

Contact Us for More Information

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design, installation, and maintenance services for VLMs and automated storage systems in a wide variety of applications. For design and planning assistance or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


Take Advantage of Section 179 Tax Deductions for Business Equipment

Don’t Miss Out on Savings

section 179 tax deductionsNovember is a great month to take advantage of the Section 179 tax deductions in 2016. Instead of depreciation, these tax deductions allow businesses to write off entire equipment purchase prices for the year they buy it. To qualify for Section 179, you must act before December 31st, 2016!

The language used in Section 179 may seem intimidating, but it’s not. This incentive of the IRS code was designed to assist small businesses with tax relief. It’s different from Bonus Depreciation; while Bonus Depreciation doesn’t occur every year and only covers new equipment, both new and used equipment qualify for Section 179. There are limits, however—it caps the total amount written off to $500,000 for 2016 and limits the total amount of equipment purchased ($2,000,000 in 2016). This also makes it perfect for small and medium-sized businesses.

Equipment Valid for Section 179

Section 179 is valid on most types of equipment, so if you use it for your business, then it probably qualifies. Some of our qualifying equipment for this year include:

Contact Us for More Information

Southwest Solutions Group® wants to make sure you make the most out of your tax deductions for this year. We’re here to help! For more information on equipment, services, and software we offer, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


Creative School Storage Ideas for Classroom & Supply Organization

creative-classroom-storage-ideasSchools often have limited space and little funding to expand their classrooms, which are only getting smaller as the number of students increases. Education professionals, then, need to make the most of the space they already have. Here are a few storage ideas you can use to save space and improve the look and organization of your school classroom, supply room, or science lab.

Classroom Mobile Shelving

For general supply shelving such as textbooks, art supplies, athletic gear, library books, sheet music, and more, mobile shelving is the perfect solution. Classrooms, textbook rooms, and other storage areas in schools are often filled to capacity, but you can easily reduce the amount of floor space you use by getting rid of aisles between rows of shelving. This way, you can use only the space you need, when you need it.

Click here to learn more about mobile shelving for classrooms.

Classroom & Science Lab Modular Casework

classroom-school-storage-ideasWhen it comes to classroom furniture, schools need affordable and functional solutions. Casework provides a solid solution and a fast return on investment that guarantees years of use. Since educational environments are always changing, you can also relocate or reconfigure the casework at any time. This is due to its modular components, which allow hassle-free installation that requires no building modifications. With a variety of finishes and configurations you can design yourself, modular casework is perfect for science labs, computer and technology labs, music rooms, libraries, staff areas, art rooms, and much more.

Click here for more information about modular casework.

Smart Lockers

Handling mail for university students on campus takes up a significant amount of time and resources. Between classes, holiday rushes, and limited storage space, there are many opportunities for packages to get misplaced, damaged, or stolen. Smart lockers provide a convenient way for students to retrieve their mail at any time and without time-consuming manual management. When a package is delivered, the system notifies the student via text or email for them to pick up at any time of day or night. Meanwhile, the delivery is securely stored in its own locker that can only be accessed by the student.

Click here to see smart lockers in action.

Contact Us for Classroom Storage Ideas

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for all types of K-12 and university classrooms. For design and planning assistance, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


High Bay Library Storage Increases University Book & Journal Capacity

High Bay Shelves for Library Storage

high bay library storagePreservation is one of the main goals of archival buildings for library storage. To ensure the longest lifespan possible of stored materials, this space has to be stringently maintained with regard to temperature, humidity, and general environmental factors. However, this space is expensive to maintain and becomes quickly cluttered with materials that staff has difficulty accessing. Steve Story, project manager at Southwest Solutions Group® recommended a unique alternative storage solution to this very problem in the form of a high bay archival system.

Saving Space & Increasing Access

The university library used the annex for their archival storage of books and journals, which was an old building that lacked space. They were also running out of room in the main library space. When students requested an item, it could take days to retrieve.

High bay archival shelving is based off the same systems often seen in industrial warehouses. With shelving that can reach 30 feet high, it utilizes a facility’s vertical air space instead of floor space. In this manner, the concept is very similar to high density shelving on a larger scale with additional considerations made toward preservation of materials. The high density structure allows a high volume-to-area ratio, which means more items are stored in less space—which directly translates to less construction and operational costs. High bay shelving also features insulation, vapor retardance, and a tight structure to prevent air loss, and can be integrated with HVAC and fire suppression systems.

Automation is Secure & Easy to Use

library high bay systemAnd this still hasn’t mentioned the benefits of an automated system. Materials can be stored and organized for easy and fast retrieval. When not in use, the high bay aisles are compacted together to take up half the space of traditional racks and shelves. When a staff member needs an item, they simply push a button on the desired aisle and it will open by itself. Despite their height, the systems are easy and intuitive for anyone to use.

Library staff also needed to be able to quickly find the materials they needed quickly and without sacrificing security. Since the library is not open to the public, all materials are scanned by barcode and need to be accounted for at all times. On the high bay shelves, materials are stored by size on book trays. Each book is barcoded to the specific storage tray, and the tray is then barcoded to the location within the shelving.

Both staff and students are very excited for the new high bay shelving. It’s also allowed them to free up space in the main library for student work centers, computer stations, and lounging areas. When a student requests a book or article, it’s easy for staff to retrieve and pass it off to the student on the same day. Currently, there are 240,000 books and journals loaded into the system and will house 1.5 million items. Even with this huge amount of storage, they have saved so much space that they will eventually eliminate the old annex.

Contact Us for More Info

Southwest Solutions Group provides design and installation services for high bay shelving in applications just like this one. If you’re running out of space for your archival or library storage, we’ll help you design and plan a solution that works for your specific needs. Give us a call at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message to get started.


Compact Cold Storage for Long-Term Museum Preservation

high density museum storageKeeping consistent cold temperatures is essential for long-term preservation of film-based photographic materials and other items that deteriorate quickly under sub-optimal conditions. But freezer space is expensive to maintain and requires a great deal of energy. We suggest installing high density shelving to use as your compact cold storage solution, which will help you both save space and preserve all of your collections properly. Read on to find out how.

Benefits of a Compact Museum Storage Solution

Cold storage significantly improves the life of paper, film-based materials, video tape, and organic materials such as animal feathers and skins. There are two types of cold storage: humidity-controlled cold vaults and packaged materials in freezers. Artifacts are easier to access quickly in the first option, but is often more expensive. Freezers are less expensive but require more time to warm up and access. In many cases, convenience and accessibility are sacrificed for complex, expensive systems that lead to an overall decrease in longevity. With all of these factors in place, it’s difficult to also consider costs, best use of space, and organization.

Many museums and other applications across various industries are implementing high density storage because of the wide array of benefits it offers. A few examples include:

Reduce travel time and manual handling

Compact cold storage and a more efficient layout allow items to be highly accessible and visible without sacrificing proper storage methods. This makes it faster and easier for staff to retrieve what they need, and reduces manual handling of items since everything is visible and organized.

museum compact cold storage benefitsAvoid new construction

Storage space is limited, especially in cold storage areas. Compact cold storage can double your storage capacity in the same space or allow you to move to a smaller space without costly new construction projects that take time and cause disruptions.

Create more space

With more space available, you can have room to add other features or storage systems to your cold storage.

Reduce energy costs

By improving efficiency and using less space, the densely-packed compact storage uses less energy to power your cooler or freezer area.

Improve safety & morale

High density storage is included with a variety of safety features to protect both users and stored items. A safer storage system with items that are easy to find and retrieve leads to a happier staff.

Ensure long-term preservation of materials

Museums have to constantly make sure that their collections are preserved and stored properly. Compact cold storage ensures preservation without you even having to think about it.

Contact Us for Compact Cold Storage in Museums

Southwest Solutions Group provides design and installation services for compact cold storage solutions in museums, labs, and countless other applications. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


VLMs Upgrade Combat & Tactical Equipment Storage

vertical lift modules storing tactical equipmentWith an increasing number of materials, a supplier and rebuilder of combat and tactical equipment for the U.S. Army also wanted to combat their lack of space. In addition to space, they also wanted to be able to ensure the safety and ergonomics of their workers. The ultimate goal was to make employees’ jobs more enjoyable by eliminating many of the pains associated with their old shelving.

Jason Madore, a representative at Southwest Solutions Group, worked together with the supplier to design and plan a new storage system that would meet all of their needs. Read on to learn about how the VLMs were able to upgrade their storage and save space in their warehouse.

Before the VLMs

Materials and parts were placed on static pallet racking and custom-made pallet boxes where all storage and kitting occurred. Staff picked everything by hand. They traveled to locations in the warehouse via guided vehicles that no longer functioned. Their materials were also spread out over multiple warehouses. This caused delays and required extra resources and manpower to send or retrieve items from another warehouse.

The warehouse wanted to be able to save enough space to consolidate all of their storage into one. They also wanted a solution that would assist with picking and putting processes, managing inventory, and fulfilling orders. Any software solution also needed to be integrated into their existing LMP, a customized SAP system. With their static storage, it took about 48 hours to reset lines, pull parts, and pick new parts. Their goal was to complete 40 orders a day in one shift with 5-10 lines per order.

The Solution

The desire for compact storage, security, inventory management, and (most importantly) employee safety helped them decide on a solution. To meet all of their goals, they decided to install four nearly 30′ tall vertical lift modules (VLMs) in the warehouse.

VLMs combat equipment storageThe VLMs provide automated storage and retrieval on a grand scale in the building. It stores a huge amount of items, from small to medium parts. This includes anything from consumables, nuts, bolts, wire harnesses, and screws to heavy and bulky hardware. With the VLMs implemented, the warehouse experienced a 60% increase in floor space. Instead of storage, the area is used for more productive operations. With the ease of picking operations in the VLM and the extra warehouse space, employees are much more efficient and able to retrieve, construct, and ship more equipment faster. Because the supplier decided to consolidate their materials, they also didn’t need to spend time and resources transferring items between warehouses.

The picking and order fulfillment software installed with the VLM integrated seamlessly into their existing LMP. This allowed them to continue operations without any downtime while the system automatically tracked inventory and assigned storage locations.


The staff is extremely pleased with the system and SSG’s installation team, who concluded the project one month ahead of schedule.

The new VLMs secure all of their small to large parts in one machine instead of having needed parts in different locations across the floor, which took extra time to retrieve. The automated shutter door keeps supplies secured while not in use, which prevents pilfering or theft. It also provides additional protection from dust, dirt, or water that can damage contents.

They are now able to use their space to its full advantage and reach all of their production and shipment goals. The VLMs work so well, in fact, that the supplier plans to fill the entire room with over 30 machines.

Contact Us

Southwest Solutions Group provides design and installation services for vertical lift modules (VLMs) in all types of applications across all industries. No matter what you store, we want to help you upgrade your storage and save space. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with one of our specialists, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


Vertical Carousel Organizes Dental Implants & Medical Devices

medical device storageA manufacturer of dental implants and other medical devices was quickly growing in size and orders. This also meant that their small space was also quickly running out of room. With more than 100 employees, they were ready to expand their storage with their business. But how would they continue to grow their company with so little space? Rich Reimer at Southwest Solutions Group worked with this manufacturer to find a solution that would work specifically for them: a vertical carousel, perfect for storing and organizing dental implants and medical devices in far less space.

Vertical Carousel Provides A Space-Saving Solution

Rich saw that one thing in particular would help the manufacturer immediately overcome their space constraints and improve productivity and throughput at the same time. He suggested a highly efficient vertical carousel, which are ideal for storing medical devices and finished goods. With a compact design, the shelves or drawers within the carousels rotate up or down via the shortest path and automatically deliver stored items to the operator at an ergonomically-placed work station. Since the vertical carousel is so easy to use, employees spend less time searching for products stored on wire shelving. The operator simply pushes a button to rotate the carousel to bring items to him or her instead.

Within the fourteen foot tall, eight foot deep vertical carousel, staff was able to store the same amount of numerous wire shelving units in a fraction of the space. By installing just one carousel, they were able to reduce the amount of floor space used for wire shelving from half to 20%. Now that space is used for shipping stations on both sides of the carousel (pictured) to provide an ergonomic right-to-left flow during product processing and picking. Since they need to quickly prepare orders for shipping, they’ve also been able to save a lot of time by having everything they need in one area.

With still more space available, employees who didn’t have one before were given workstations to add another level of productivity gains and employee comfort. They plan on adding another carousel in the near future in order to transfer more of their wire shelving storage and continue growing and streamlining their processes more efficiently.

vertical carousel storing dental implants

Improved Storage Conditions & Compliance

As with all medical device manufacturers, the company must also comply with record-keeping and quality control processes as mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It ensures that damaged, contaminated, obsolete, or otherwise inadequate products are not distributed. When combined with warehouse management software, the vertical carousels also provide picking solutions and electronic documentation for stock rotation. This prevents expired devices from being shipped and distributed, while picking validation is set up to ensure accuracy. Electronic tracking also reduces or eliminates the need to store paper files. Paper easily takes up space and can get lost, damaged, or misplaced.

Another disadvantage of traditional static shelving is how easily dust accumulates on stored products. In some applications, dust accumulation may not be a concern. However, it was of great importance to the staff that their products were always in the best condition for their customers. Shutter doors enclose items within the carousel, protecting them from dust and other environmental factors that cause deterioration or are unsightly. No one wants to receive an order covered in dust or warehouse debris. Additionally, vertical carousels are equipped for storage applications that require environmental control, such as coolers or freezers.

The staff is extremely happy with their solution and has filled the carousel with over a dozen overflow racks. Now it’s a much simpler process to pick, sort, organize, and package items. With the additional space extra work stations for employees, they are able to quickly respond to and satisfy customer needs.

Contact Us About Vertical Carousels for Medical Devices

Southwest Solutions Group provides design and installation services for applications just like this one in a wide variety of industries. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design process begins. For more information or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.