Laboklav - full steam to the global laboratory equipment market
Detzel Castle at Haldensleben in Saxony-Anhalt, is home to the highest degree of technical competence. At the head of SHP Steriltechnik AG are three experts who, with their steam sterilisation equipment for laboratory use, are on course for global market success. "Laboklav" (laboratory autoclave) is a series of 25 to 200 litre units with a three-fold advantage: They are energy efficient and environmentally friendly, offer optimum ease of operation, and can be set up to save space in labs. The newest model in the series is the 'viewing unit'. This model allows the sterilisation process to be observed through the chamber's glass lid.
The journey to the castle takes you past fields and through villages. The bright sandstone tower of Detzel Castle peeks out of a small forest like a sign post. Perhaps the castle's brightness is symbolic of the company, which has moved in to the former hunting castle at Haldensleben. Its bright rooms with high-ceilings and clear views of the countryside easily inspire new ideas. The minds which allow their innovative ideas to run wild here, muse over new approaches to the development and distribution of their steam sterilisation equipment.
Burkhard Heinicke is responsible for their foreign sales, and for marketing the devices. He knows that many are initially puzzled by the company name, 'SHP'. The strategist explains quickly, before he is even asked: Michael Sporys is responsible for product development and engineering, Andreas Pohl for domestic distribution (within Germany) and finance. You don't even have to guess what the H in the middle stands for. A further question arises. How did three men, who already had an 'abundance' of life and professional experience, come up with the idea to establish their own company in 2006?
"When you have worked for the former market leader in this industry for a long time, you accumulate a lot of knowledge," says Burkhard Heinicke, going on to explain that that company then changed hands twice. The 'steam' was taken out of the sails so to speak in the production of steam sterilisation equipment. "A gap arose in the market, which we wanted to use our complex specialist knowledge to fill," says Burkhard Heinicke:
Something which 'SHP' succeeded in doing. The three men - from Munich, Hamburg and Magdeburg - opted for Saxony-Anhalt in central Germany for their company headquarters, and for Haldensleben because of its quiet location and good transport connections.
Their customer-base is now made up of labs which deal with medical diagnostics, food testing and university research. "Our devices are used, for example, when samples in laboratories have fulfilled their purpose. Before samples can be disposed of in the bin, they are required by law to be sterilised," said Heinicke, explaining the need for these devices. Whether it be cultures created in a lab, blood samples taken for analysis, food samples being examined for bacteria or fruit-juice that is being quality inspected - all material used for 'research' must eventually be sterilised.
"Our devices sterilise liquids, solids and waste, so as not to contaminate the environment. They are also used to prepare solids and media for sterile use. Our steam sterilisation devices themselves are environmentally friendly, "says Burkhard Heinicke, referring to their economical use of the 'resource' water. "The closed cooling water circuit runs according to the heat exchanger principle, so that the consumption of cooling water is equal to 0."
The innovative ideas from the castle have only a short way to go to their implementation, as the manufacturing facilities are also situated within the grounds of Detzel Castle. As soon as one laboratory autoclave is delivered, assembly starts on the next. The company handles the entire manufacturing process and final assembly of their laboratory autoclaves.
The assembly hall is also home to the newest steam pressure device, the 'Laboklav 25', whose chamber lid is made of heat-resistant safety glass. By turning on the light inside the chamber, the sterilisation process can be observed: Something which attracts a whole new customer base. Heinicke is referring to material testers, who can use this device to fast-track and observe the ageing of rubber and plastic.
The inventors at SHP are also proud of a further innovation in the conception of their devices: All autoclaves from the Laboklav 55-195l series can be operated as free-standing, or as tabletop equipment. Adjustments can be made to both operating modes at any time. The manufacturers know that this corresponds exactly to their customers' needs.
With their sales representatives and distribution partners, SHP is currently spanning a customer-friendly services network across Europe, the Far East, the Ukraine and Australia, and the company is therefore very well informed about what is in demand on the market.
"Personal contact to the customer is important to us," says Burkhard Heinicke, who has just returned from the Ukraine. Parts of the company's 'services' include advice and seminars, which can take place at either the customer's premises or at Detzel Castle.
The castle's access roads are currently being levelled off - literally paving the way for new possibilities.
Author/photo: Kathrain Graubaum
SHP Steriltechnik AG
Schloss Detzel 1
39345 Detzel Schloss / Satuelle
ph: +49 39058 9762-14