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From Efficiency to Safety: How Auto Sash Fume Hoods Are Changing Lab Operations

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Fume hoods are a crucial piece of laboratory equipment and vital in maintaining lab safety.


Designed to protect researchers and laboratory personnel from hazardous chemicals and fumes, fume hoods operate by pulling contaminated air away from the researcher and into the hood to be safely vented outside of the building.


While traditional manual fume hoods have been the standard for many years, recent advancements in technology have led to the development of automated fume cupboard sashes.


These modern systems are increasing technician safety, improving lab efficiency and delivering energy reductions and cost savings in ways no one was addressing before.


Let's explore the features and benefits of the cutting-edge development in fume cupboard sash automation, including how they work, their safety benefits and their impact on lab operations.





What is an automated fume cupboard sash?


An automated fume cupboard sash is a type of fume hood that uses technology to control the position of the sash. The sash is the moveable window on the front of the fume hood that separates the researcher from the hazardous materials inside the hood.


Unlike traditional sashes, which must be manually opened, closed and adjusted by the laboratory technician, automated sashes are equipped with motors and sensors that can detect the presence of an operator, obstructions and the position of the sash to adjust it automatically.


The main difference between an auto sash and a traditional manual sash is the level of automation, control and precision. For example, Power Sash will automatically detect the user and open. When the fume cupboard is no longer being used, or a user is no longer detected, Power Sash automatically closes the sash.


Likewise, when an obstruction or obstacle is detected during close, Power Sash will automatically stop to prevent from closing on the obstruction. This level of automation reduces the risk of human error and ensures that the fume hood is always functioning optimally.



How does an auto sash work?


Automated fume cupboard sashes use advanced technology to sense and adjust the position of the sash. The technology behind an auto sash typically involves sensors, actuators, and control systems.


Automated sash systems are not only there to ensure safety and energy saving practices, they can also be operated via a signal from the Fire alarm to open for smoke clearance. The operator can also touch the sash handle to close and leave immediately knowing the sash will close to contain any further spread of fumes or spitting fluids from experiments.


Overall, automated fume cupboard sashes provide a higher level of control and precision than traditional manual sashes, helping to improve safety and efficiency in laboratory settings.



How does an automated fume cupboard hood save your lab money?


Automated fume cupboard hoods can offer significant cost-saving benefits for laboratories. One of the main ways that automated fume hoods can save money is through reduced energy consumption.


By automatically adjusting the position of the sash, automated hoods can optimize the amount of airflow through the hood, reducing the energy required to maintain proper ventilation.


For example, when your fume cupboard is left unattended with the sash open, expensive conditioned lab air is exhausted out of the building. Auto sash detection features prevent this from happening as the sash only remains open during operation and closes when no user is detected.


In addition to energy savings, automated fume hoods can also reduce maintenance costs. Automated hoods are equipped with sensors and alarms that can alert maintenance personnel to potential issues before they become major problems. This early warning system can help prevent costly breakdowns and reduce the need for emergency repairs.


Automated hoods can also reduce the cost of replacing filters. By optimizing the amount of airflow through the hood, automated hoods can extend the life of filters, reducing the frequency at which they need to be replaced.


Finally, automated hoods can save money by improving overall laboratory efficiency. By reducing the need for manual adjustments and monitoring, automated hoods can free up researchers to focus on other tasks. This increased efficiency can lead to increased productivity and ultimately, cost savings for the laboratory.


Overall, automated fume cupboard hoods offer a range of cost-saving benefits for laboratories, from reduced energy consumption and maintenance costs to improved efficiency and productivity.





What are the safety benefits of an automated fume cupboard window?


In addition to cost-saving benefits, automated fume cupboard hoods also offer important safety benefits for laboratory personnel. One of the key safety features of an automated hood is the ability to maintain a consistent and appropriate sash height.


Maintaining the proper sash height is critical for ensuring that the hood is functioning properly and protecting laboratory personnel from hazardous fumes and gasses. With an automated sash, the user's level of interaction with the sash should be minimized to simply open to a desired level, to operate or set up an experiment and then leave it. The automated sash will carry out its operation. This ensures that laboratory personnel are protected from potentially harmful substances, even as conditions within the hood change.


With a manual sash, researchers may be tempted to prop the sash open to improve access or ventilation, even if it means compromising safety. Automated sashes eliminate this risk by adjusting the sash position automatically, ensuring that the hood is always operating at its optimal level of safety.


Likewise, by eliminating the need to manually open and close the fume cupboard sash, lab technicians are able to transport dangerous chemicals and hazardous materials to and from the fume cupboard work area with greater ease and improved safety.



How often does the power sash require servicing and what does it entail?


Like any piece of equipment, an automated fume cupboard sash requires maintenance to ensure it continues to function properly. However, the good news is that automated sashes require less maintenance than manual sashes, which can be a significant cost savings for laboratories.


Typically, an automated sash should be serviced at least once a year by a qualified technician or more often if the sash is used in high volume . During this service, the technician will inspect and clean the sash belts, chains and clamps depending on which system is used, the surrounding components sensors and motors, and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the sash is functioning optimally.


If any issues are identified during the service, the technician will recommend additional repairs or replacements as needed. It's important to note that regular maintenance is crucial for ensuring the long-term performance and safety of an automated fume cupboard sash. Neglecting to service the sash can result in reduced performance, higher energy costs, and even safety risks.


Regular servicing is a relatively simple and straightforward process that can help ensure the ongoing functionality and safety of an automated fume cupboard sash. By following a regular maintenance schedule, laboratories can extend the life of their equipment, reduce costs, and ensure the safety of their personnel.



Is local parts availability provided for automated sashes?


When investing in automated fume cupboard sashes, it's important to consider the availability of replacement parts. While these devices are designed to be reliable and long-lasting, there may come a time when a component needs to be replaced.


Fortunately, many manufacturers of automated sashes provide local parts availability. This means that replacement parts can be obtained quickly and easily from local suppliers or distributors, reducing downtime and minimizing costs associated with shipping and handling.


Having local parts availability is essential for laboratory managers and technicians, as it ensures that any necessary repairs or replacements can be completed quickly and efficiently. This is especially important for laboratories that rely heavily on their automated sashes, as extended downtime can result in delays and increased costs.


Before investing in an automated fume cupboard sash, it's important to ensure that the manufacturer provides local parts availability. This can often be confirmed through the manufacturer's website or by contacting their customer support team.


By choosing a manufacturer with local parts availability, laboratory managers can have peace of mind knowing that any necessary repairs or replacements can be completed quickly and efficiently, minimizing downtime and maximizing the performance and safety of their equipment.





How must the sash of the air flow hood be set?


Properly setting the sash height of an air flow hood is critical for both safety and efficiency in the laboratory. The sash acts as a barrier between the user and the potentially hazardous materials being handled, and it also helps to maintain the proper airflow within the hood.


The working height is 500mm but can vary depending on the specific hood and the application being performed. However, as a general rule, the sash should be set as per Australian standards while still allowing for comfortable working conditions.


It's also important to note that the sash height should never be set above the maximum recommended height for the specific hood being used. The sash can be opened greater than 500mm for loading equipment, once loaded the sash can be lowered back to 500mm and the automated system will take over.


To maintain proper sash height, it's important to regularly inspect the hood and counterweights to ensure that the sash is functioning correctly. Any issues or malfunctions should be addressed immediately to prevent safety hazards and ensure optimal performance.



Should the fume hood sash be closed or open?


Properly setting the sash position is essential for maintaining laboratory safety and optimizing energy efficiency. But, how do you know when to open or close the sash?


In general, the sash should be kept closed when it is not in use. This prevents any potential chemical fumes from escaping into the lab and keeps the air flow hood working efficiently. When working with hazardous chemicals or performing experiments that produce hazardous fumes, the sash should be closed to contain the fumes.


In addition, keeping the sash clean and free of any obstructions is important for maintaining proper air flow and ensuring laboratory safety. It's recommended to regularly clean the sash with a mild soap and water solution to remove any debris or residue or hand written notes that may accumulate.



Fume hoods are essential equipment in laboratory settings for protecting workers from harmful chemicals and vapours. Traditionally, fume hoods have used manually adjustable sashes to control airflow, but modern advancements have led to the development of automated fume cupboard sashes.


Automated fume cupboard sashes use advanced technology to sense and adjust sash position, ensuring that the correct airflow is maintained for optimal safety and energy efficiency. They can save labs money by reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs. Additionally, they can enhance safety by maintaining proper sash height, which is crucial in preventing the escape of hazardous chemicals.


To keep the automated sash working at its best, it should be serviced regularly. Local parts availability is also important in ensuring that the sash can be quickly repaired if necessary.


Properly setting the sash height is essential for ensuring maximum safety and efficiency. Best practices should be followed to maintain the sash height at the appropriate level.


Finally, it is important to know when to open and close the sash. Appropriate sash position affects laboratory safety and energy consumption.


The use of automated fume cupboard sashes is an excellent way to improve laboratory safety and efficiency while saving money. Labs should consider implementing this technology to improve their safety protocols and protect their workers from hazardous chemicals and vapours while improving overall lab efficiency.



To learn more about fume hood and fume cupboard automation, or to discuss your next project, reach out to our sales team today.


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