Newsletter 2017 Issue 1



Table of Contents:

Rush University Adds FloSense™ Monitoring
Edstrom Employee Safety Stays Sharp
ISO Recertification – Making Quality Standard
Edstrom Mission: The Next 48 Years
Ask Update


Rush University Medical Center In Chicago Adds Rack-Level Protection with
Edstrom FloSense™

Dr-Jeff-OswaldAnthony-Davis The research conducted in the vivarium of the Cohn Research Building at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is translational and spans both basic and clinical science. Investigators here are engaged in studies that have the promise of advancing medicine across a broad spectrum of disciplines. The table below displays some of the important work currently in progress on campus.

There is a common thread shared among this diverse research group. Investigators in each of these disciplines rely on the resources and staff of the vivarium at Rush University’s Comparative Research Center (CRC) to aid them with the studies they pursue. By maintaining the health and wellbeing of the animals in their care, the CRC staff makes a direct contribution to the success of the research. As such, it is paramount that decisions are made and actions are taken to support the essential goal of quality animal husbandry. 2017-Issue-1-Rush-ChartIn 2016, the Rush CRC staff made the decision to integrate FloSense™ monitoring into their vivarium in an effort to provide rack level protection for their mouse colonies.The Edstrom FloSense gives advance notice of a water flow condition on a mouse rack, protecting both the animals and research. FloSense monitors water flow at an individual rack and alarms if there is a constant flow of 0.5 ml per minute detected beyond a user assigned timeframe - based on the population of mice in the specific rack.

We had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Jeff Oswald, Senior Director of the Comparative Research Center, and Mr. Anthony Davis, Associate Director, about the Rush CRC vivarium and their experience using both automated watering and FloSense. During the discussion, we learned more about their rationale behind the investment in an automated watering system and how it has affected the Rush CRC vivarium. We also gained insight about how integrating FloSense into their operation has given them confidence that their mice are protected around-the-clock.

Our mouse cage census here at Rush is about 2,500. There are approximately 25 mouse racks in current use. The Edstrom automated watering system itself was installed in the fall of 2000. Prior to that, our vivarium was in another facility that utilized bottles.

Automated watering was chosen to decrease the cost of labor and supplies associated with providing bottled water, and to diminish the possibility of ergonomic repetitive motion injuries in animal care staff members. It was also believed that the quality of automated water is more consistent than bottled water delivery. Consistent supply of high quality drinking water with minimal to no contaminants is imperative in any animal research operation in order to assure that no non-experimental variables are introduced that could alter the collection or interpretation of experimental data. It’s even more important to aquatic animals living in the water as a primary substrate.

We were deliberate in crafting the protocols and procedures our team follows to maintain the automated watering system. The reverse osmosis (RO) water system is monitored daily to assess the overall operation of the system and the quality of the RO water. The parameters we monitor include water temperature, clarity, chlorine levels (in ppm), conductivity, current status of the RO membrane, and overall pressure supplied to the system. Chlorine and acid supply tanks are also monitored daily. In addition, each of the eight pressure reducing stations in the facility is checked monthly. The filter for the city water supply line is likewise checked monthly and changed quarterly (unless more frequent change is necessary). All information related to the operation of the RO system is maintained in a RO system log book. In addition, microbiological monitoring is performed quarterly, with various drinking valve sites sampled and evaluated for coliform growth per a quality control SOP.

The automated watering system provided us with reliable service since its installation. In 2015 however, we began to see an increase in the instances of wet cages. Concerned about this, we sent the valves to Edstrom for factory analysis.

What that analysis had revealed to us was that the process of repeated autoclave sterilization had caused the internal silicone parts within the valve to degrade over time. This motivated us to take action on two fronts. First, for the valves themselves, we have chosen to systematically replace older units to remedy the problems caused by the aging silicone parts. 2017_Issue_1_-_FloSense-Unit-CoverThe next thing to consider was how to intercept any future issues. If we were getting any unwanted water in our mouse cages, we wanted to know about it quickly. This prompted us to seek out a monitoring device that would alert us if there was any aberrant water flow on the rack and communicate back to our team so they could respond. The investigation led us to ultimately choose FloSense monitoring.

Adding FloSense to the facility has helped us to dramatically decrease the number of wet mouse cages - thus improving animal welfare. We also experienced increased IACUC, investigator and technician awareness, appreciation and knowledge of the complexity of the vivarium automated water delivery system.

All of the mouse racks in our facility that are hooked up to the automated watering system are being monitored by a FloSense device. For our part, implementing FloSense into our automated watering system was relatively straightforward. We generated an SOP for our staff to enable them to systematically respond to a FloSense alarm. This helped them to have a clear understanding of the process and how to react if and when an alarm occurs.

In brief, when a FloSense unit alarms and we locate the affected cage on the rack, we take the cage out of service, verify the health of the animals and transfer them to a fresh cage. We return the fresh cage to the rack and then reset the FloSense. We then ensure that the air is purged out of the water lines of the rack and that it is reestablished for use. The cage that was taken out of service is then tested in a valve testing station that we’ve developed to check for any issues that may be present. If the valve is tested and it is determined that it’s viable, it will be returned to service. If not, it is removed from the cage and set aside to be returned to Edstrom for analysis.

To take a further precaution, we chose to add the optional solenoid shut-off valve to our FloSense purchase in the event that there was an alarm during off-hours or in the middle of the night. The animals are active at night, so this is when most of the incidences will occur – when we’re not here. Having the solenoid shut-off valve gives us an additional safety feature and the confidence that at the time when there is the most significant chance of an event, the valve will shut off the water flowing to the rack and mitigate it. At first, we had debated whether we wanted to include the solenoid based on the duration of time that the animals might be without water. Ultimately, we understood that the animals would be thirsty but not affected by dehydration after a period of water deprivation. So, realizing that if the solenoid was activated the animals wouldn’t be harmed by water in the cage and additionally they wouldn’t be affected by dehydration between checks, we deemed that the solenoid shut-off would work for us.

2017_Issue_1_-_FloSense-W-Rack FLOSENSE IN APPLICATION
When an incidence occurs that triggers the FloSense alarm and activates the shut-off solenoid, our CRC team responds based on our established SOP. If any mice are wet, they are dried off and then transferred to a cage with dry bedding and put under a heat lamp (if needed) until they have fully recovered. Usually however, it doesn’t reach that point. In fact, our staff really has to look carefully for the affected cage in the rack. This is because once the shut-off solenoid activates, there is typically only some damp bedding in the back of the cage that has caused the FloSense alarm to be triggered. In these cases, our staff need to search out the affected cage. Sometimes they will even reset the device to see if the solenoid shuts off again just to confirm that an event has really happened.

Speaking empirically, we are seeing less water in our mouse cages when a flow event does take place. If there is more water present in the cage, we try to identify the cause and test the equipment to be sure that both the valve and the FloSense monitoring unit are operating properly. If the equipment is functioning properly, we have come to understand what some of the causes may be. It could be that the cage wasn’t docked properly to the rack, or that there is a piece of bedding stuck in the front of the valve or the back of the valve. We have had other animals constantly wet the cage because they play with the valve. When this happens, our job is to catch it as early as possible for the health of the animals.

The feedback that we have received from our CRC animal care staff since FloSense has been introduced is positive – they like it. FloSense gives them confidence that their cages are not going to flood, which is clearly what’s most important. FloSense mitigates the concern that they will find wet cages when they do their morning health checks. We collectively feel more confident in the automated watering system because of FloSense. We feel that if a rack does have a flow issue, we can catch it earlier - at the damp bedding stage, rather than at the point where we have to rescue the animals.

As far as our investigators are concerned, FloSense is discussed when presenting the automated watering system during facility orientation to all new animal use personnel at Rush. This gives them a practical understanding of the equipment. We believe that utilizing FloSense has improved our existing PIs’ opinions of automated watering. The PI members of the IACUC are especially engaged in the use of FloSense to improve animal welfare and quality of life in the vivarium.

If a facility is considering FloSense, be sure that your IACUC is a part of the process as you are moderating an animal welfare concern. In addition, communicate about FloSense to all of the PIs that utilize the vivarium. It’s important that they are aware of the purpose and process surrounding the monitoring device.

Edstrom offers our sincere thanks to Dr. Jeff Oswald and Mr. Anthony Davis for providing the information discussed in this article. For additional information about FloSense monitoring for your vivarium, please contact your Edstrom Sales Representative, or visit:

Edstrom Employee Safety Stays SHARP

In October of 2016, Edstrom Industries was recertified by the Wisconsin Occupational Safety and Health Consultation Program/Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (or SHARP). The SHARP program recognizes companies who have excellent health and safety program management systems within their organization.

Edstrom is proud to have been recognized by the SHARP program continuously since 2004. The 2016 milestone marked the fifth SHARP recertification for Edstrom in the program. Currently, there are only seven SHARP recognized companies in Wisconsin, and Edstrom is one of only two companies to be recognized continuously since initial certification.


The Edstrom commitment to safety began with the company’s founder, Bill Edstrom Sr., over 35 years ago. Bill wanted to ensure that his employees went home at night in the same good health that they enjoyed when they reported to work that morning. He desired to understand his manufacturing business operations clearly and to likewise have a clear understanding of the safety hazards inherent to them. In doing so, he could take steps to eliminate those hazards and any associated safety risks. The passion to advance a safe workplace led Bill to meet with the State of Wisconsin Safety and Health Consultation Program. He invited agents of the program to the Edstrom facility to learn more about reducing safety risks and taking steps to make the workplace safer for all employees. Bill Edstrom also founded the Edstrom safety committee, and many of the original founding members of the committee still serve today.

Edstrom Industries’ success in the SHARP program would not be possible without the dedication of all of its employees to make the company a safe place to work. This enduring commitment has the enthusiastic support of Edstrom management, and is also supported by a proactive safety committee who is continuously striving to improve safety in the workplace. Edstrom values the relationship with the State of Wisconsin Safety and Health Consultation Program, and the opportunities that SHARP brings to strengthen and improve its safety management initiatives. Bill Edstrom Sr.’s drive for embracing and utilizing the expertise of outside safety resources continues at the company today, and has further factored into the company’s safety program success.

To achieve SHARP status, a company must:

  • Have a history of maintaining an injury and illness rate below the national average for its industry
  • Participate in a comprehensive consultation visit for both safety and health
  • Participate in a full evaluation of the health and safety management program in place
  • Involve employees in the consultation and safety management processes
  • Correct all serious, other-than-serious, and regulatory hazards
  • Have all basic elements for managing health and safety in place

ISO Recertification – Making Quality A Standard

The International Organization for Standardization, commonly known as ISO, is a non-governmental body headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that promotes standards that facilitate world trade. There are currently 164 countries that participate in ISO. Each of these countries has a single member that represents their nation within the global network of national standards bodies.

ISO international standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, and of good quality. For business, the standards are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors, and increase productivity. Edstrom first received ISO certification in 2008 to the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management standard. In each successive year since then, Edstrom participates in an audit that is conducted by a third party registrar to evaluate whether the company’s quality processes maintain the guidelines set forth by ISO, and whether those processes uphold the principles of strong customer focus and continual improvement.

2017_Issue_1_-_ISO-ArrowDuring an ISO audit, a variety of companywide processes are observed based on the established criteria of the ISO 9001 standard. Any findings are tiered based on severity. Violations can include those considered a major nonconformance, a minor nonconformance, and opportunities for improvement. A major nonconformance violation is quite serious, and may cost a company its certification. A minor nonconformance, while less severe, still requires corrective action to be taken to rectify the condition. Finally, opportunities for improvement (or OFIs) are feedback statements which may identify areas for potential improvement in company operations.

Edstrom’s 2016 ISO 9001:2008 recertification audit successfully concluded with 13 recorded opportunities for improvement. Though OFI statements do not make specific recommendations for action, they cultivate efficiency enhancements that benefit the company through the pursuit of continual improvement. In that spirit, Edstrom will vigorously address the OFI findings to better the company, and make better the solutions provided to its customers.

Upon completion of the 2016 ISO 9001:2008 recertification audit, Edstrom experienced its first audit based on the ISO 9001:2015 standard. Edstrom received 4 OFIs for this audit, which will likewise be internally reviewed and integrated into the overall quality management system. The audit revealed that Edstrom is one of the first few organizations to obtain the ISO 9001:2015 certification. During the weeklong audit, the auditor remarked on several occasions that the quality processes she observed were "Well beyond the ISO 9001 standard of requirements," and that of all the companies she has audited, Edstrom was one of the best she has seen.


Edstrom – The Mission Forward

2017_Issue_1_-_Doug-LohseOver the past 48 years, Edstrom has built an industry leading business in the vivarium through the combination of unique products, customer focus and a relentless focus on quality. In doing so, it has become the de facto standard in automated watering, highlighted by its unique water distribution and valve designs coupled with robust control and monitoring platforms such as Watchdog® and Pulse™. Edstrom is extremely proud of its long history in supporting animal research and considers itself fortunate to be part of the scientific efforts to advance modern medicine all around the world.

In today’s world, it is extremely rare for a company of any size to remain successful and independent for 48 years. The rate of innovation and disruption in most industries can consume some of the most hallowed companies as they struggle to keep up with the pace of change. To stay ahead of this inevitable change and ensure that Edstrom can achieve its mission of another 48 years of success, the Edstrom family decided to partner with ShoreView Industries in early 2016. ShoreView, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a long history in partnering with established entrepreneurial companies and provides access to resources which will fund critical growth initiatives and market expansions.

In support of its mission, Edstrom has continued to build on its talent foundation by naming Doug Lohse Chief Executive Officerin January 2017. Doug joins Edstrom after spending more than 17 years with Corning, Inc., where he held numerous positions in its Optical Communications and Life Sciences divisions. He brings deep experience in commercial leadership, mergers & acquisitions, and business development – highlighted by his more than 5 years in Shanghai, China where he was responsible for the Life Sciences business for all of Asia Pacific.

Edstrom is committed to thriving for another 48 years by continuing its focus on bringing novel products to market, exceeding customer expectations, and making quality a foundation.

Ask Update

Q: We have recently purchased the Ultrafilter UF-400 Defender to help purify our lab water. In the past, during severe weather conditions, we have lost power in our facility. If we were to have a power failure, will the Ultrafilter continue to supply filtered water to our animals?

A:Yes. As long as there is available water pressure, the UF-400 Defender can operate for several days if necessary and continue to filter the water. The UF-400 Defender can also circumvent the reverse osmosis system in the event of an emergency by specifying a selectable bypass. This also makes the UF-400 Defender a wise choice for contingency planning.


Q: Can the BFS-675 Bottle Filling Station accommodate bottles with different volume capacities?

A: It can. Both the fill manifold and the bottle case retainer are designed to be easily exchanged to allow for the different size bottle cases you may use at your facility, and the filling volume can be adjusted to your desired capacity using the Bottle Filling Station onboard controller. In the event you are already using the BFS-675 Bottle Filling Station and need to integrate an additional bottle and case combination in order to meet your research needs, contact your Edstrom representative for details about purchasing a compatible fill manifold and retainer kit.

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