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Air Safety Doesn't Have to Be Invisible

New solutions target ways users can allay employee air quality concerns in the age of COVID-19.

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Two years into the pandemic, it’s become overwhelmingly clear that fighting the spread of infection requires an entire toolkit. And for many companies, it’s not an all-or-nothing approach:

  • Recent research suggests that 38 percent of businesses nationally require employees to wear masks.
  • The number of workers whose employers required vaccination rose from nine percent in July to 36 percent in October, according to CBS News.
  • Ernst & Young Global reported in September that 79% of companies said they intend to make “moderate to extensive hybrid work changes.”

But according to the CDC, it’s not just about arming each individual with a set of requirements to help mitigate workplace COVID transmission – within the four walls of any operation exists opportunities for improvement from a health and safety standpoint.

One that’s caught the attention of the CDC is indoor air quality. According to the EPA, filtration can be part of a plan to reduce the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors, especially when paired with masks and social distancing.

“Air cleaners and HVAC filters are designed to filter pollutants or contaminants out of the air that passes through them,” says the EPA, adding that “air cleaning and filtration can help reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses.”

Air Purity by the Numbers

Boynton Beach, FL-based Pyure Company has been manufacturing commercial air purifiers since well before the pandemic, though the impetus for tools to fight pathogens, volatile organic compounds (VOC), odors and allergens got a big boost in Spring of 2020.

And while Pyure contends its solutions kill more than 99% of the most common indoor pathogens, including the COVID-19 virus, it’s more complicated than that: air purification is, in many ways, an invisible process. How does its existence (and associated costs) pay off for workers who are looking for tangible proof that their employers take COVID mitigation measures seriously?

According to technology leader Rockwell Automation, the solution lies in capturing data from these devices and making it visible. That’s why the company formed a five-year strategic agreement with Pyure that enables the two companies to join forces on bringing air quality data where it needs to be: in the hands of those who rely on the systems to stay safe.

According to Sam Cessna, regional manager of info solutions for Rockwell, while there haven’t been formal compliance mandates from any federal or state entities relative to COVID-specific indoor air quality, many businesses are still viewing this as a proven opportunity to improve safety and ensure employees “know the environment they’re walking into has a certain level of air quality.”

The two companies recently detailed the partnership, citing the pandemic’s acceleration of an existing need for companies “to become more resilient, agile and sustainable.” Essentially, Pyure was ready to take their air purification technology a step further, and sought Rockwell to help to monitor, deploy and maintain the data for customers in different settings.

According to a recent press release, Pyure has integrated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and knowledge capture solutions from Rockwell’s FactoryTalk InnovationSuite, powered by PTC, providing a single solution to collect, aggregate and securely access industrial operations data. As a result, Pyure’s customers will now have the ability to access real-time data indicating how Pyure is protecting their environments, while integrating data and control into their building management strategy. Customers will also be able to manage their Pyure systems from a single location and integrate their own devices into a common gateway, dashboard and mobile app platform, giving them the ability to remotely troubleshoot and receive system service.


Safety as a Competitive Advantage

Businesses who utilize this solution can deploy the data company-wide, if they wish, or relegate it to a manager. Either way, Pyure provides placards for customers to promote the fact that the area is safe, providing reassurance to those who enter that the location is being monitored for air quality.

Cessna says that, while he’s not aware of any business using the Pyure-Rockwell solution as a recruiting tool as of yet, he believes it’s in the cards. Considering the latest data on unemployment, a business that can effectively allay COVID worries could tap into a large swath of the unemployed who see pandemic concerns as their primary barrier. Consider, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent report, that 7.9 percent of people who were not in the labor force but wanted to work “were prevented from looking for a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Besides this, Cessna adds that the benefits of businesses showcasing a high tech solution extend beyond just safety: for new recruits, especially of a younger generation, “they’re looking for companies that leverage new and creative technologies in traditional settings.

“Gone are the days where you recruit someone, you hand them a four-inch binder and say ‘read this,’” adds Cessna. “I think it's ‘YouTube this’ and ‘Google that’ and to gain instant access to knowledge and information and go act on it. And what we're doing between Pyure and Rockwell is a great example of that.” 

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