Let there be light. Ultraviolet light, that is…
Sonic Equipment Co./Kneisley Manufacturing in Iola has developed new technologies from its standard equipment to clean and disinfect both spaces and surfaces.
The company’s typical wares include products of all kinds for theaters, such as screens, servers, and audio equipment, but with the COVID-19 pandemic shuttering entertainment facilities across the country, demand has come to a standstill.
Sonic/Kneisley therefore repurposed its “Shadowgraph” machines, which are used to find and repair imperfections in glass projectors.
The machines deploy ultraviolet radiation which, company representatives say, is strong enough to combat germs and other nasty things such as mold spores.
That means the local business, which has had to cut its workforce, can stay productive.
IN ORDER to learn more, Chief Operating Officer Ron Hageman and Megan Hageman provided the Register with a tour of the facility where the new UVC machines are being made.
“We’re recreating the power of the sun,” Ron said. “The concept is new, but the technology is the same for us.”
The UVC devices can be handily wheeled into a space such as a classroom or auditorium.
A timer is set and the machine’s powerful bulb incrementally illuminates, brighter and brighter, until an irradiating light blasts surfaces and the surrounding air.
One can then wheel the device to a new position to repeat the process.
(Another machine sucks air in through various filters and passes it through an interior space irradiated by light as well.)
To give a sense for just how potent such a light is, imagine being able to get a sunburn while indoors, which is why the devices are equipped with timers to keep exposure at a minimum.
Perhaps surprisingly, however, the machines only use about as much power as a microwave in order to operate.
AS RON noted, the UVC machines were born out of the need to respond to an industry particularly hard-hit by COVID-19.
“Has the cinema side been rough? Yeah, it’s been rough. But we’ve opened up a way to supplement that.”
At first, though, the question on everyone’s mind was: “How can we pivot?” Or as Ron put it,
“What else can we do with what we’ve got?”
In other words, when people aren’t buying equipment for theaters, what can the company manufacture instead?
Or for those theaters and other facilities that are trying to reopen, how can they do so safely?
Hageman said the owner, Stan Hays, came up with the idea of taking things in a novel direction.
“We already had all the ‘guts’ to do this,” Ron said, unintentionally making a statement with double-meaning.
MEGAN said the UVC devices don’t completely replace traditional cleaning methods, but they nonetheless provide “confidence” by giving entities an “added layer” of safety.
Local institutions such as Allen Community College to businesses as far away as Wyoming are purchasing the machines, the Hagemans said.