Pneumatic Tube System Replacements

Companies and their products come and go in today’s competitive marketplace, whilst Aerocom systems have been around for well over 60 years and are still evolving. Around 50% of the Aerocom pneumatic tube systems installed in UK hospitals have been fitted to replace another supplier’s system, either because of the system age or often through poor performance and the lack of aftercare support and reactive service.

Almost every district general hospital or infirmary has a pneumatic tube system, newer sites will have had their air tube designed and installed within the construction project, older sites generally will have been retrofitted. What usually causes the hospital to call us in for a survey of an existing hospital pneumatic tube system, is almost always reliability.

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To understand any system, it is important to be able to visualise the layout

All too often sites only have vague symbolic drawings or no diagrams at all. Aerocom like to be clear right from the start, our design team will study any existing system and as a priority, make a schematic showing the system as an entirety.

This will then be used to identify original design flaws and suggest improvements.

Once we get the system layout, our technical team will research how the concentration of users combined with the existing infrastructure will affect traffic flow. One of the more common design faults we encounter is the Emergency Department being considered as just another system user, and being grouped with other major users on the same line.

Our studies show that the ED in an average acute hospital will dominate the traffic flow of an extensive pneumatic tube system by up to 35%. This, if not considered, overwhelms the system, especially during peak periods, therefore our top priority is to get A&E and Medical Assessment Units on an independent Fastrack.

Because A&E will almost always have a programmed send priority, it will cause other users to be side-lined if grouped on the same line as the ED, and staff will then often complain the system is to slow because they have to wait, especially if long distances are being covered.

other suppliers systems
Aerocom gather statistics for comparison by monitoring over 100 UK hospital systems using AC3000 software.

In this example of a 70 station system in a major UK acute hospital, we can see the impact the ED has on a site-wide pneumatic tube system.

Over 7 days there were 11,537 sends, of which 3,891 were to or from the ED, this returns a figure of 33.7% of the system use.

Aerocom has of course installed a Fastrack from the ED to Sample Handling at this hospital.

Another major misunderstanding, we encounter with older hospital pneumatic tube systems installed by others is; the lack of consideration for the manual handling of staff in the sample handling section of pathology laboratories. Over 90% of all pneumatic system usage in UK hospitals is for sample transportation, some sites with larger diameter systems may have pharmacy using the system, but not always.

Aerocom is a specialist company with several thousand hospital pneumatic tube systems in operation worldwide, experience in this field has led to our designers concentrating on lab innovations for sample handling. With laboratories receiving thousands of sample filled carriers, then returning the empties daily, we have dedicated solutions.

If you are currently struggling with, or interested in replacing your existing pneumatic tube system, give us a call

If you are interested in replacing your existing pneumatic tube system, no matter which model you currently have, we will be pleased to assist. Whether it’s because of the system age, coverage or reliability, we will provide free advice on how to improve on what is already installed.  Our sales team will promptly visit the site and gather the information to cost-effectively upgrade the current system to one of our Aerocom models, using as much of the existing infrastructure as practical to keep the cost to a minimum. A complimentary site survey can be made to establish the current systems “like for like” feasibility, and a full report will be made outlining possible enhancements and innovations to improve the future system performance.

A comprehensive renovation and upgrade plan can be supplied at no obligation including:

  • Technical submittal with datasheets
  • Preliminary design drawings
  • Estimated programme and methodology of works
  • Risk assessment of the project
  • Costing of the initial scope plus enhancement variables

Services for Unsupported Systems

Aerocom (UK) Ltd are also regularly contacted by sites with unsupported pneumatic tube systems installed by companies that no longer exist. In many cases, this may be enquiries from construction companies to add an extension to a system where the original supplier is no longer in business, and often the equipment manufacturer is located outside of the UK. We do deal with most international pneumatic tube system manufacturers to some extent and can import their equipment on request, our installation team and technicians are flexible and familiar with many systems. We always try to provide a solution, even if it is advising on another UK supplier who deals with the particular model.

Aerocom stock parts from numerous independent manufacturers and service several non-Aerocom systems where there is no other UK supplier available. If the independent manufacturer’s system is still reliable, we will persevere to keep it serviceable until the lifecycle expires, ultimately, we would be aiming to eventually replace the system with one of our well-matched Aerocom models.

Case studies


Royal London Hospital

The original pneumatic tube system at Royal London hospital was installed in 2008. The site-wide system was an independent manufacturers model with Ø110mm infrastructure, 58 medical user station locations, 2 pharmacy stations, and 4 pathology stations making a total of 64 send and receive station units.