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Disinfecting Warehouse Areas

Shop Manager sets up blower for disinfecting

There is nothing routine about going to work in spring 2020.  W.D. Matthews Machinery Company has been solving warehousing problems for customers for 80 years.   Suddenly we are thrust into R&D mode and can’t simply rely on decades of experience in our field.  We find ourselves assisting customers that are everywhere on the spectrum of COVID-19 related closures. The good news is in many regards W.D. Matthews is operating the same as usual.  The better news is that we are learning new ways to adapt to the environment and provide valuable services to customers.

Every business is following the CDC guidelines on how to protect essential employees from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 infection.  If you are not, please check out the CDC website.  It’s a perfect tool for anyone that needs to know more.  There is a lot of information about disinfecting and cleaning.

One area that WDM usually celebrates is our experience in warehouse products.  We carry Factory Cat scrubbers and sweepers that are the usual first line of disinfecting warehouse floors and surfaces.  We use a Factory Cat scrubber in our warehouses too.

We found that this level of disinfecting wasn’t enough for this crisis.  Disinfecting offices and showrooms are easy but disinfecting a warehouse is too labor intensive as a regular process.  There are plenty of products that can help but many businesses share tremendous uncertainty about investing in experiments.

With a little Yankee ingenuity, we experimented with the fundamentals of one of these products.  In storage we had a swamp cooler that we hardly use.  For those not familiar with a swamp cooler, it is a large fan with a water reservoir.  It blows cool moist air and is especially handy in a warehouse during the summer.  We calculated the water reservoir for the appropriate mix of bleach and started testing on smaller warehouse areas to get an idea of the reach of the bleachy mist.

After a couple of test runs, we started rotating the fan from warehouse to warehouse in a routine manner.  We set the fan up at the end of the night and shuts off automatically with a timer after a few hours of operation.  The next day the mist has evaporated but the bleach odor is still noticeable.  Since we’re only using bleach and water, we leave everything but electronics out during this disinfecting period, including equipment.

This is a very easily repeatable process for anyone with a warehouse.  In fact, you wouldn’t even need to re-purpose a swamp cooler in order to make it happen.  Blowing air through a filter dripping with bleach water will have the same effect.  I’m sure this can be replicated in many ways.

Two words of advice regarding disinfecting your warehouse.  First, if you use the bleachy air method that we used, do it after hours, and don’t forget anything in the office.  It is a very strong bleach smell.  Secondly, get a Factory Cat scrubber.  There are too many things to do right now to keep the warehouse running.  Disinfecting the floor will become a larger priority than it has ever been before.  Plus, I know where you can get one.

-Jim Chaousis- General Parts & Service Manager