Client and Industry: The client is one of the largest manufacturers of heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. One of its business lines supply refrigeration cabinets to all major chains of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. The current pandemic has created significant fear among shoppers in touching common areas, such as cabinet door handles, which led to plummeting sales. The immediate need was to design a cabinet handle that could sanitize itself after each touch. LTTS’ (L&T Technology Services) team of engineers, who are working with the client on an ongoing engagement, proactively took upon themselves the challenge to design a self-cleaning cabinet handle.
Main Challenge: People were scared to touch common areas and objects, such as refrigeration cabinet handles, due to fear of infection. Consequently, frozen, perishable products were unsold and resulted in huge business losses.
LTTS’ Solution: LTTS’ engineering team consulted medical professionals to understand the coronavirus behavior, researched different aspects, including the causes of transmission, and ideated a solution that would eliminate the transmission risk. Research highlighted that the virus can be neutralized when exposed to UV light with specific wavelength (between 280-283 nm) for about 45 seconds. On the basis of this study, a solution was designed that uses UV LED lights to irradiate on the cabinet handles to clean the surface after each touch.
- LED: LTTS’ engineers reached out to a vast network of vendors and manufacturers to identify the right LED, with the precise wavelength that can neutralize the virus in the least amount of time.
- Design and flexibility: The design of this handle had to be unique, and it had to incorporate an UV LED that could eradicate germs along the entire handle and also accommodate a PCB, battery and re-charging unit in a very compact space. Two new products were designed: (a) to mount on top of an existing cabinet handlebar, and (b) a new handle that can be fitted to the door of the cabinet.
- Battery: With the compact design, the battery had to be even more compact and yet it had to be strong enough to power the LEDs for several operations per day without frequent recharge. A compact lithium-polymer battery was designed to power the LED for more than 500 operations per day without requiring a recharge for a month.
- Sensor: Both products incorporated a capacitive sensor that can detect the touch and activate the LED.
Business Benefits: LTTS’ solution helped the customer address the growing concerns about the virus and transmission risk. Both products are compact and can easily be installed on to an existing cabinet, either by mounting on the existing handle or by replacing the old one.