MEA companies develop solution for new Covid-19 hand hygiene

Two family businesses from Mid and East Antrim are behind an innovative new solution to COVID-19 hand hygiene, already being used by some of Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing and engineering firms.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 5:00 pm
Roy Beggs MLA, David Neill, DNES Ltd and Alan Caldwell, Ashgrove Engineering

The ‘DD 2500 Foot-operated hand sanitiser dispenser unit’ is operated solely by a foot pump, completely removing the need for employees to make hand contact with unhygienic shared surfaces when dispensing hand sanitiser gel.

The revolutionary device is designed and manufactured by Islandmagee-based DNES Ltd in partnership with Ashgrove Engineering from Portglenone. The two companies have enlisted Larne firm GEMAT Sign Company to produce the signage and labelling for the device.

David Neill, founder and owner of DNES Ltd, explained how the concept came about.

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“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been reminded time and time again of the critical importance of cleansing our hands regularly to reduce the spread of infection,” he said.

“This has seen businesses in all sectors distribute bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel across their premises. However, these bottles are essentially shared surfaces, handled hundreds of times by users picking them up to dispense the gel, so a foot pump is the ideal non-touch alternative.

“Furthermore, businesses with high volumes of staff or customers are going through dozens of bottles of hand sanitiser a day, necessitating regularly replenishing of stock and high levels of plastic bottle waste – which is neither cost-effective nor environmentally-friendly.”

DNES Ltd set about developing a solution to this problem, partnering with Ashgrove Engineering to bring the innovative concept to fruition.

Made from marine-grade 316 stainless steel, the unit is highly durable in any environment, whether indoors or outdoors. All materials are also deemed food safe, meaning it is suitable for any area.

According to Mr Neill, the unit brings a wide range of environmental benefits and other efficiencies to employers.

“The unit comes complete with a 5-litre refillable sanitiser gel canister which dispenses 2500 servings, avoiding the need for regular refills – which is perfect for busy environments and also significantly cuts down on the wastage of empty plastic bottles,” he continued.

“It’s also portable and installation-free, with the mechanical operation of the dispenser meaning there are no requirements for connection to electric or water source. It can therefore easily be placed in a range of locations, such as entrances to buildings and in corridor/hall areas and can be moved easily from location to location.

“With frequent use of alcohol-based sanitiser leading to dry, dehydrated skin on the hands, we can also provide dual or quad stations to include pumps for moisturising lotion, which are attracting a lot of interest from employers in industrial settings in particular.”

With a strong pipeline of bulk orders already coming through from companies right across the UK and Ireland, the first batch of units are to be installed this week by a number of large Northern Ireland employers – including Bombardier, Lissan Coal Company, Manvik Plant & Hire Ltd and Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations.

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs commended DNES Ltd and Ashgrove Engineering for their innovation, added: “I am hugely encouraged but not at all surprised to hear that this innovative foot operated gel dispenser is already making waves across a wide range of sectors and industries in Northern Ireland and beyond. This is testament to the agility, solutions-based approach and willingness of both companies to respond quickly in providing what is essentially a very simple but very clever answer to a problem facing every business as the pandemic continues to evolve.”

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