Fast and fully automatic: disinfection of shopping carts

The Finnish company Innorent has developed a compact disinfection unit for shopping baskets and shopping carts. Operation of the system is contactless. The fully automatic disinfection takes only a few seconds and is based on a LOGO! controller and the latest IoT technology.

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Innorent from Pirkkala in Finland is originally known for its prefabricated car washes and modular building solutions. But the company has now tapped into a completely new market with a completely new product: "We wanted to use our knowledge of car washes and thought about what else we could clean besides cars. This led to the idea of cleaning shopping carts and baskets as well," explained Innorent CEO Markus Niemi. 

 

The idea was initially discarded, but was revived under the influence of the Corona pandemic. Contrary to the deep cleaning originally envisaged, however, Innorent decided to concentrate on the disinfection of shopping baskets and shopping carts. The result is a compact disinfection system for supermarkets that enable quick and easy disinfection within a few seconds. 

 

A total of 30 devices marketed under the Foum brand name are currently in use in Finland and Sweden. Their acceptance is based primarily on increased hygiene awareness among supermarket customers, which was awakened above all by the Corona pandemic. 

 

"The disinfection systems offer two main customer benefits: On the one hand, the customer feels safer with a self-disinfected shopping basket or cart. On the other hand, the workload is reduced for staff who would otherwise have to take on such disinfection," says Markus Niemi. 

Easy remote operation and management

The principle of Foum is simple: the customer places his shopping cart or basket in the machine and starts the disinfection process by approaching a button with his hand without having to touch it. The cart or basket is then sprayed with disinfectant. Colored LEDs indicate the progress of the disinfection. The entire process takes only two to three seconds, so the delay of the customer is only minimal.

 

"The functional logic had to be easily adaptable. A solution based on conventional relays was therefore out of question. Any changes would have been very tedious and would have had to be made manually at each site," says Jussi Pölönen from SVI Group. Pölönen was closely involved in Foum's development and was primarily responsible for the electric systems.

The absolute advantage of LOGO! is its connection to the cloud. In practice, we can use it to monitor remotely whether the device is working properly and whether there is enough disinfectant in the tank. 
Markus Niemi, CEO Innorent

Innorent opted for LOGO! for Foum's function control. The compact Siemens control system is responsible, for example, for the targeted dispensing of the disinfectant. It is also used to monitor the tank, which is used to collect excess disinfectant. 

 

"The absolute advantage of LOGO! is its connection to the cloud. In practice, we can use it to monitor remotely whether the device is working properly and whether there is enough disinfectant in the tank. This remote monitoring also ensures that the collection tank does not overflow. Any unusual operating situation is immediately reported by e-mail," says Niemi, summarizing the advantages of Foum. 

The functional logic had to be easily adaptable. A solution based on conventional relays was therefore out of question.
Jussi Pölönen, SVI Group

LOGO!'s cloud-connected technology, with its remote monitoring capabilities, supports rapid expansion of the distribution network without the need to install any comprehensive on-site service. "Device features can be updated on a daily basis. Changes can be effortlessly transmitted digitally and made without any on-site service," says Pölönen. He also referred to another advantage of the compact Siemens controller: "We simply have high confidence in a solution that has been used in demanding industrial environments for decades," he says, explaining the decision in favor of the Siemens solution. 

Market opportunities even beyond the pandemic

Foum is available in two versions, suitable for shopping carts and for shopping baskets. Innorent CEO Niemi is convinced that demand for these disinfection units will continue beyond the Corona pandemic: "We assume that the pandemic will permanently increase people's hygiene awareness. Having a disinfection unit in the foyer of the store is a really hassle-free way to reduce the risk of spreading germs."

 

Innorent is currently in the process of further expanding the distribution of the innovative hygiene solution in Finland and Sweden. However, the company also sees great sales opportunities in countries such as Spain, France, the UK and Germany, where there have been extensive lock downs during the Corona pandemic.