Businesses are looking for smart post-pandemic hygiene solutions to control cleaning costs. Touchpoint Shield™ can provide one of them, says Steve Broughton, founder of cleaning specialist SafeGroup, which has launched the innovative antimicrobial ‘liquid glass’ coating.
Cleaning companies can be proud of what they have achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic. When their clients needed them most, they were there – carrying out hygienic cleaning and delivering a whole new range of services, including electrostatic spray cleaning.
Many companies (I would like to include SafeGroup) showed agility and innovation in rapidly scaling up decontamination services that helped keep people safe and reassured and the wheels of the economy moving, albeit at a slower pace.
As pandemic lockdown comes to an end, times are now changing. Businesses that were willing to allocate hefty budgets to disinfection spraying and more intensive cleaning regimes are looking to a post-pandemic world. In it, they want two apparently contradictory things: better hygiene and controlled costs.
Hygiene now a long-term priority
This is requiring fresh thinking in terms of creating hygienic environments. Our response has been to launch a new product and service called Touchpoint Shield™. It’s a surface coating that is highly durable and contains an active ingredient, silver ions, that destroy microorganisms, including SARS-CoV-2, and a range of bacteria recognised as causing illness and lost work days.
Our thinking on Touchpoint Shield™ has been driven by feedback from our clients. They have valued our support during the pandemic but want hygiene solutions that are effective and sustainable in the long-term.
Continued intensive electrostatic spraying, for example, does not fit easily into that mix. There is recognition that hygiene standards have moved up the premises maintenance agenda. Both in terms of reopening workplaces after lockdown and long-term goals, enhanced hygiene is a priority.
Reassurance and wellbeing are key watchwords. A sizeable number of employees (not most but a good number) will need to be convinced that it’s safe to return. In some environments, staff representatives and health and safety advisers will be watching to ensure hygiene standards do not slip.
Team motivation and morale will be of concern to leadership teams, especially to retain key personnel at a time of change.
Hybrid working – new challenges
That change includes the development of new ways of working. A new phrase – hybrid working – has been coined, whereby staff are permitted, if not encouraged, to work partly at home and partly in the office.
This approach will present its own challenges. While staff are in the office, they are likely to be expected to work more collaborative and intensively together, perhaps in smaller office space. In these circumstances, social distancing and novel ways to control how people use work spaces may not be an option.
At the same time, companies – facilities maintenance providers and their clients – are rightly concerned that hygiene solutions must be sustainable.
Touchpoint Shield™ is designed to provide an important solution for all these concerns for the critical element of touchpoint cleaning.
There has been a lot of debate about whether SARS-CoV-2 can be passed on through surface transmission. Some experts dismiss it, others see it as more important.
Touchpoint cleaning is critical
To a degree, in the post-pandemic world it is a moot point. What we are now concerned about is wider hygiene standards, and in those terms, surface transmission is a key issue – and touchpoint cleaning remains a critically important to minimising its risk.
Touchpoint Shield™ supports this by controlling the build-up of potentially harmful pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi and mould on both hard and soft surfaces.
Uniquely, it has two key elements. The first is a nanoceramic coating, in effect a liquid glass. When applied, it bonds strongly to the surface and forms a coating that is just five microns thick, half the width of a human hair.
The second is the silver ions the coating liquid contains. Silver has been used for centuries to guard against microbes. Silver ions are the modern manifestation of the metal’s antimicrobial power. They interact with microbe cells, disrupting them, making them harmless.
So, once the near-transparent Touchpoint Shield™ coating is applied, it cannot be seen, but it is working every minute of the day to prevent the build-up of colonies of bacteria and viruses that could be passed on by human touch.
Trials yield telling results
Laboratory tests have proven Touchpoint Shield™ to be 99.9+% effective against SARS-CoV-2, plus other viruses and a wide range of bacteria that commonly cause illness.
That is good evidence of the product’s efficacy. However, we have gone a step further and carried out field trials in different environments, including large banking offices and a major London theatre.
These have shown that Touchpoint Shield™ is highly effective at preventing the build-up of bacteria on surfaces such as door handles, door plates and handrails. Clients agree, the product passed the tests with flying colours.
Intensive touchpoint cleaning, on the other hand, did not. Laboratory tests of our samples showed potentially harmful bacteria grew rapidly again within 30 minutes of cleaning taking place. This challenged to value of even the most intensive touchpoint cleaning regimes.
These results have allowed us to demonstrate to clients a key benefit of Touchpoint Shield™ – it can deliver more effective high touchpoint protection while dramatically reducing costs.
Easier to clean – reduced costs
For one very large employer in London’s financial centre, we could show touchpoint cleaning costs could be reduced by 80% and environment hygiene standards would be improved.
Surfaces coated with Touchpoint Shield™ still need to be regularly cleaned, at a standard frequency. But only with a standard pH neutral detergent, to remove dirt and grime that can prevent the coating from coming into contact with microorganisms. No harsh chemicals are needed.
In fact, the dirt-repellent qualities of the coating make treated surfaces easier and quicker to clean, which reduces costs still further.
Another big benefit of Touchpoint Shield™ is that it cannot be seen. Clients are telling us they value the fact that it does not disrupt the aesthetics of the interiors they are seeking to protect.
It stands to reason that banks that have paid £millions for smart on-brand interiors do not want them disturbed by unsightly handle covers or films. Unlike these devices, which need to be replace regularly, Touchpoint Shield™ can remain in place for at least three years. It can only be removed with a specialist gel.
Flexible hygiene solution
Also, Touchpoint Shield™, as a coating, is entirely flexible. It can be applied to all types of surfaces. For example, we are coating the gear sticks on lorries operated by a major manufacturer. As well as machinery controls.
Touchpoint Shield™ can be applied to desks as well as doors. Imagine an employee who is particularly concerned about pathogens. We can coat their desk, making them feel much more comfortable about returning to work. Other colleagues may not need such support but may feel pleased that push plates into and out of toilets are coated.
If required, we can apply stickers and notices to that effect. Helping reassure work teams that extra measures have been taken to protect their health and wellbeing.
As we leave this pandemic behind, and head for the next one (there will be one), I believe it is smart technologies like Touchpoint Shield™ we will rely on. A watchword with cleaning is always cost. With Touchpoint Shield™ it can be futureproofing as well.
Talk to us about how Touchpoint Shield™ can enhance hygiene standards for your staff and customers – and control your costs: 0800 668 1268