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Distributor becomes manufacturer of social distancing solution

Distributor becomes manufacturer of social distancing solution

Turck Banner’s systems division has a reputation for bringing together a diverse array of products to form cohesive systems solving the requirements of major industrial companies. However it had not manufactured its own product in the UK until July of this year.

Early in the Covid-19 lockdown Turck Banner saw an opportunity to support shopkeepers’ need to control the flow of customers entering their premises. Customers were often seen queuing outside shops unsure whether it was safe to enter or not, and often avoiding  shops with a long queue altogether. Turck Banner’s systems team were challenged to come up with a solution using the four following criteria: it needed to be simple to use, easy to fit, low cost and adaptable to changing government rules.

Two solutions emerged. The first was a simple combination of a power plug, an inline changeover switch and a red-green tower light. The light could be mounted in the shop door or window with the switch placed near the till. The shopkeeper could then turn the light red or green, like a traffic light, to allow customers into the shop or request that they wait. This could be sold for just £90. The second solution replaced the mechanical switch with a remote control, allowing the shopkeeper to turn the light red or green. This had a higher price at £210 but reduced the installation requirements.

Turck Banner trialled both systems at a variety of shops and found the light needed to be more prominent. Mounting it outside the shop could be a solution, however this would require permanent installation work. Temporarily running cables around some shops was also challenging.

Using feedback from the trials, the systems division developed a standalone cordless control station. It used the remote control, which was the most popular of the original designs. The tower light was replaced by a daylight visible red/green traffic light mounted on a 1.5m post and a base containing a rechargeable battery and the remote controller. The station is weatherproof and is positioned at the entrance. The traffic light gives a clear instruction to enter or wait, and a repeater indicator is located on top of the post to ensure that the shopkeeper can see if the traffic light colour is red or green from 360 degrees. This solution still costs just under £500 and requires no installation.

With the new system proving very successful, the systems division turned its attention to the more usual, industrial customers to see how this may be of benefit to them. Two opportunities to assist were identified. Customers required monitoring of enclosed spaces to ensure safe occupancy and to maintain social distancing on stairways.

Many enclosed spaces which now have reduced occupancy need external control. The occupancy version of the control station has sensors mounted to the post which detect the presence and direction of a person entering or exiting the room. A second version addresses maintaining social distancing on stairs, and is fitted with a single sensor which detects anyone passing as they start upon the stairs, at which time the indicator light turns red for a set period of time before returning to green.

Turck Banner managing director Peter Gardner said: “In these times when many people are struggling it feels good to be able to support local businesses both in providing solutions and by procuring as many parts as we could locally and manufacturing locally.”

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