Reopening businesses after a public health crisis is a complex process that requires a consistent strategy to minimize all possible risks. Contrary to popular belief, it does not amount to disinfection and masks wearing and includes measures like monitoring and data analysis. The following article is an overview of disinfection tunnels and their implications for reopening businesses.
Resuming the operations of public spaces is a challenging task that should take into account public health strategies and daily habits like social distancing. Nevertheless, cleaning and disinfection is an essential aspect of the process. The CDC has even published a guide on cleaning and disinfecting public facilities that covers objects like:
Understandably, some of these tasks are more difficult than others, demanding special equipment and materials. On top of that, some businesses will have intensive traffic of goods, which would require more frequent cleaning. Finally, in some cases, high customer traffic has to be taken into account.
While mask-wearing and hand washing offer a decent level of protection, cleaning everyone’s clothing and personal belongings is hardly feasible. In this light, disinfection tunnels are a promising solution with multiple layers of protection that can address all of the concerns above.
In its basic form, a disinfection tunnel also referred to as a sanitation channel, is a passage outfitted with nozzles that spray a sanitizing agent on everything that passes through them, killing viruses and bacteria on all exposed surfaces. However, many models on the market combine this general principle with several additional measures to maximize the protection. The most common additions are hand sanitizer dispensers, UV lamps, and various smart sensors that automate the process.
Early in the course of the COVID-19 outbreak, some disinfection tunnels used compounds that were actually hazardous for humans, like sodium hypochlorite. Fortunately, today it is possible to find a disinfection solution company whose sanitizing agents are chemically selective – deadly for viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms while completely harmless for larger forms of life.
Disinfection channels can also be used on objects like goods and luggage, with many shapes and sizes for different applications. Some advanced models may be outfitted with smart telemetry and data collection capabilities, opening an entirely new domain of possibilities that go beyond the straightforward disinfection.
To answer the question of sanitizer tunnel effectiveness, we need to look at several aspects of its operation. Despite being firmly associated with sanitation (for obvious reasons), a disinfection gateway actually protects from COVID-19 at three levels:
Each of these levels is equally important, and none is enough on its own. Of course, they only work when combined with other precautions like PPE and safe behaviors, which is why some of the models incorporate these factors into their operations. Let’s look at each aspect in more detail
COVID-19 can survive on objects from several hours to several days, depending on the type of surface it lands upon. To make the exposed object safe, the disinfectant should cover it as evenly and thoroughly as possible. In a sanitation tunnel, it is achieved by atomizing the disinfectant into tiny particles that settle on the surface of the objects inside. The size and composition of the particles are such that they permeate the smallest crevices without leaving any moisture. This process is effective and does not create any inconvenience for users.
The effectiveness of sanitation also depends on the properties of the agent used in the equipment. For example, hypochlorous acid, also known as super oxidized or electrolyzed water, is a popular food-grade water treatment and sanitizer, that demonstrated its effectiveness against pathogens. To conclude, disinfection tunnels do eradicate the virus on contact.
Responsible PPE use is a major factor in the successful reopening of businesses. Disinfection tunnels can assist with this problem through mask recognition technology. Smart sensors scan the visitor’s face and, if no mask is detected, either notify the attendant or issue a reminder to put the mask on. Some models can also be configured to restrict access for violators of safety policies. The same can be done with body temperature screening. In this sense, tunnels can be used to promote safety culture.
Finally, tunnels equipped with smart sensors can log the information on audience traffic. This data can then be analyzed to obtain valuable insights, from attendance to the frequency of identified health hazards. From a strategic perspective, this allows businesses to analyze the effectiveness of their prevention measures and adjust accordingly.
Performance aside, there are many factors companies need to account for when deciding which sanitizer tunnel to buy. Fortunately, the market has already responded to the demand with a variety of options built specifically for business applications, often adapted for specific scenarios. This equipment has many advantages:
Moreover, there are modular solutions that can be used in combination, like additional dispensers and sensors, making them suitable for an even broader range of settings.
Disinfection tunnels are a novel solution that is yet to gain wider acceptance. Nevertheless, they already demonstrate massive potential as a public health solution. The effective and reliable sanitation solution combined with consistent screening and analytics can be a viable element of a business reopening plan after the lockdown.
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