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New pneumatic tube system makes hospitals even safer

Pneumatic tube system: right away that sounds old-fashioned. However, this "form of fast and low-personnel transport of objects in small, cylindrical containers by means of compressed air in tubes" (Wikipedia) is an innovative method. In contrast to the remote mail systems used in some cities up until the beginning of the 20th century, small pneumatic tube systems within a building are still in use today. In particular, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies around the world use pneumatic tube systems. They use them to transport laboratory specimens, blood bags or medications quickly, safely and with low numbers of personnel.

The family company Sumetzberger established in Vienna in 1921 is one of the world's leading manufacturers in this area. Its ultra-modern, computer-controlled pneumatic tube systems go far beyond simple transport from A to B: they monitor and log each step in the process in real time and ensure safe handover points to the nursing staff or to fully automated laboratory lines and pharmacies.

Vienna's "hidden champion"

Vienna's "hidden champion" has been developing ingenious pneumatic tube systems for transporting blood specimens and medications in hospitals for more than 30 years. Over the course of the COVID-19 crisis, the company upgraded its products with a new virus protection technology. A plastic coating for the transport containers that glide through the pneumatic tube system protects against viral loads. This also provides better protection for the people who remove the containers from the pneumatic tube system. Sumetzberger also developed a "disinfection sleeve", which whizzes through the tubes instead of the transport container and keeps the lines virus-free. To keep downtimes as short as possible while the disinfection sleeve passes through, a new software is also provided that optimizes and controls use of the system. In order to be entirely safe, so-called "Disinfection Gates" are used to automatically disinfect the transport containers again at the removal stations – the letterboxes of the pneumatic tube system.

"COVID-secure" transport

Austrian hospitals are already showing keen interest in upgrading their existing pneumatic tube systems and making them "COVID-secure", while many other hospitals around the world have expressed an interest. As part of the support measures provided during the coronavirus lockdown, the Vienna Business Agency launched a special funding program called "Innovate4Vienna". The project submitted by Sumetzberger – along with many others – was selected by the jury for funding.

More information:
Sumetzberger, Leberstrasse 108, 1110 Vienna

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