How the halo effect of hygiene is driving innovation in the commercial space

How the halo effect of hygiene is driving innovation in the commercial space

Home » How the halo effect of hygiene is driving innovation in the commercial space

The global health crisis has challenged what we consider to be normal; few could have known at the start of 2020 that hand sanitiser and toilet roll would become two of the most sought-after products within the UK. Sectors such as retail, grocery and hospitality have had to adapt and evolve quicker than ever imagined, with long-term strategies replaced by short-term tactical plans to keep their customers and employees Covid-secure whilst continuing to their strategies to drive footfall and increase sales.

Post By Craig Bennett -
For the right reasons, conversations about hygiene within in commercial premises have been traditionally confined to facilities managers, however a greater understanding of the role of hygiene factors in limiting the spread of viruses has brought this topic into the mainstream. 

With it, we’re also seeing huge leaps in innovation as entrepreneurs and established corporations alike look to help UK businesses survive in the most unprecedented of times.

Here’s our top ten list of innovations in the commercial space that we believe will help transform health and hygiene in the long-term, adding real value to the customer experience.

© Image Credit - Asda

1. Grocery trolley sanitising-wash

In high-volume footfall establishments such as supermarkets, there are a vast number of physical touchpoints with shopping trolleys acting as one of the greatest carriers of germs, bacteria and viruses. 

Although sanitising products are made available in most outlets, this requires action on the part of the consumer to undertake the cleaning and is typically limited to only the main handle.

A sanitising-wash acts on the same principle as a car-wash; a trolley is passed entirely through a sanitising machine in just a few seconds, with a rapidly evaporating disinfectant applied to the entire length of the trolley.  This can also be applied to entire rows of shopping trolleys, minimising the time and resource needed to stay on top of this cleaning process at the end of the day.

2. Antimicrobial/antibacterial door handle technology

With bacteria and SARS-coronaviruses able to survive on door handles for up to 5-days1, these are a high-risk transmission point in any public building.
The application of Silver Ion technology as a coating or sleeve for door handles and push plates can combat pathogens deposited onto the surface when going through a door.  These self-cleaning, antibacterial door handle covers, specifically designed for lever handles, are a relatively simple concept with complex technology that deliver results.
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© Image Credit -

3. Airless disinfectant sprayers

As the need to sanitise and disinfect equipment and even entire buildings became more prevalent, so too did a gap in the market to do this quickly, efficiently and effectively.  Airless spray technology has quickly been adapted, allowing the user to deploy high-production and volume sanitising with consistent and complete surface coverage to meet chemical dwell time requirements.

4. UV smartphone sanitiser

With around 92% of mobile phones having some form of bacteria on them2, this has a direct impact on hygiene. Phone soap/sanitising is a clever innovation that uses UV-C light contained within a case-style box to sanitise mobile phones, killing 99.9%3 of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and pathogens.

Although not directly related to a sector innovation, it could be symbolic of the kind of tech consumers expect to see in the establishments they frequent, much like phone charging points are today.

5. Contactless fogging

Traditionally a process completed by trained operatives, newly-developed fogging machines can dispel sanitiser which attacks airborne pathogens and germs on surfaces, killing 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on contact. Large spaces and complex equipment can be covered quickly and safely in a wide range of preventative or decontamination deep cleaning to leave long-lasting residual protection on surfaces.

6. Air filtration and cleaning

In buildings where windows do not open and the ventilation system functions in a closed circuit, which is true of many retail environments, the most reliable approach is a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system.
HEPA filtered air cleaners can also be used to complement the HVAC system to improve overall air quality by simply recirculating air, significantly reducing the contamination in a room through high air turnovers and high filtration efficiency. In many cases, this will require an upgrade to an existing standard system so where appropriate, portable units that kill airborne droplet viruses through filters and UV light can be a useful alternative.

7. Escalator handrail sanitiser

Where escalators are a feature of a building, it’s important to treat the handrails with the same care and attention as door handles and basket handles. 

Escalator handrails rank in the top five most dirty environments in the world, yet they need to be held for safety reasons so advocating for them to be taken out of action isn’t possible.

Escalator handrail sanitisers use a combination of liquid sanitiser and UV rays to kill up to 99.99%4 of bacteria on the handrail.  This type of unit can clean a typical escalator handrail in two rotations, and then continue to maintain the zero bacteria count thereafter continuously. Utilising Internet of Things (IoT) technology, monitors can show the real-time hygienic condition of the handrail so that passengers can hold on without fear of infection as well as digital video display for safety or advertising messages backed up with sound.

8. UV-C conveyor belts

Although not new technology, applying UV-C principles to the grocery sector is certainly a new application.  Commonly found in production environments, the UV-C emitted can significantly reduce the risk of micro-biological contamination of the surfaces and packages on or around a conveyor belt. Installing UVC conveyor belt units in the high-volume environment of a supermarket could be a key intervention in slowing the spread of harmful germs.

9. Antibacterial plastics

Thinking differently about products that are frequently touched such as fast-food trays, a new plastic material has been developed with antibacterial properties.  This is designed to protect products from contamination, with up to a 99.9%5 decrease in the number of germs on these products compared to the ones previously used. This technology has also led to the development of a range of microbe-resistant shelves, further demonstrating how versatile this technology can be.

10. Sanitising tunnels and booths

Looking akin to an airport scanner, this new technology is designed to be used at the entrance of high-density spaces such as shopping malls and hospitality venues. 
These walk-in systems provide individuals with a touch-free experience that sanitises the entire body within a five-second time frame. The systems are fitted with an integrated supply and drainage system to ensure no spillage or maintenance issues. With social distancing measures in place, the tunnels allow for approximately 750 walk-ins per hour.  Special features such as facial recognition screens, temperature mapping devices and automated hand sanitizer can also be incorporated.

As challenging as the global health pandemic is, there is no shortage of technology emerging to help the public once again feel safe whilst out of the home. In addition to the mandated requirements of enhanced cleaning, face masks and social distancing, customer-facing sectors are increasingly looking at the longer-term measures they can adopt to improve the shopping experience and create confidence in the environment.

At Sigma, we are working closely with a number of innovative and forward-thinking partners who are directly tackling the challenges brought about by Covid-19 and designing solutions that help you focus on making the most of your bricks and mortar space. Whether you’re looking for support to make your premises Covid-safe or embracing a broader commercial space transformation to integrate new safety measures into the fabric of your environment, our design and procurement specialists have the expertise to deliver the outcomes you need.

We have in-depth and proven knowledge of creating exceptional customer journeys through the creative use of space, equipment and fixtured and fittings whilst ensuring safety, environmental and cost-efficiency aren’t compromised. Whether in response to Covid-19 or for a longer-term change, talk to us today about your customer care transformation.

Are you interested in learning more about innovation in the commercial space? 

We’re running a virtual innovation forum. Details TBC but register your details and you’ll be the first to know!

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