A year on from using the ap360 Air Purifier
How the ap360 Air Purifier is keeping us safe by Mark Davison CEO, Grant Instruments
My first thoughts
By coincidence, I joined Grant Instruments at the end of March 2020, a few days after the UK went into full Covid-19 lockdown. First-day emotions were different this time. Am I exposing my family to risk by going to work? How do I keep our employees safe? How do we survive commercially? We manufacture things, so sending everyone to work from home was not an option. Our site has been open throughout the pandemic, and our employees have shown amazing resilience and courage.
We are more used to the Covid-19 era now and it is easy to forget the visceral fear of that first lockdown – hospitals filling fast, treatments rudimentary, and no vaccine in sight. My son is at-risk category and was living with us then. For weeks I showered and changed after work before seeing my family.
The birth of the ap360 air purifier
A few weeks after joining Grant, I asked our technical team to design an air purifier. Not jumping on the bandwagon with a flaky product and unproven claims, but a properly thought-through device that would make the air safer. We looked at the available technologies and settled on HEPA-13 filtration and UV-C light. Well-established and reliable, with a published scientific base underpinning their effectiveness in removing pathogens from the air. We wanted an enclosed, safe, portable device that could be used with people nearby. Our engineers crunched the numbers on optimal air flow, bulb strength, and chamber size. Breaking all records for development time at Grant, they made a prototype in weeks and a production-ready AP360 device soon after that.
We tested the concept with two well-known institutions on our doorstep: Cambridge University and Cambridge United Football Club, our local professional team. Locations like student libraries and football changing rooms have particular ventilation challenges, so sterilising the air is a useful extra safeguard. One year on, CUFC have been promoted to League One. We aren’t claiming that breathing pure air indoors was the reason for their on-field success, but we are proud that our AP360s have played a small part in keeping the team (and their visitors) healthy.
Read the article on how CUFC are continuing to exhaust every avenue with reducing risk of Covid-19.
We also made the decision to deploy the first batch of AP360s around our own building rather than selling them. The psychology proved to be as important as the virology. Putting staff before customers was one element, but it turns out that having a very visible source of pure air just helps people to feel safer. We do all of the other Covid-19 precautions – sanitiser, distancing, surface cleaning, masks etc – but colleagues tell me that the AP360s are a welcome extra layer of reassurance. Every weekday morning, their programmable timers fire the AP360s into life and the steady hum of clean air continues until they automatically turn themselves off when our day ends.
Confidence in our safety
In more than a year of AP360 operation, we have not had a single case of work-related Covid-19 transmission, with up to 65 people on site. Not exactly a clinical trial but a good observational study. The pandemic has taught us that there are no guarantees against Covid-19. No technology provides protection on its own. All the precautions add together to reduce the risk of spread. So we don’t promote the AP360 as a silver bullet against Covid-19, but we know its value in our own world. I’m still very careful about Covid-19, and I make sure that we don’t drop our guard in the workplace. But I don’t fear going to work now, partly because I’m vaccinated and boosted but also because I hear the gentle sound of pure air being generated as I walk round the building. I don’t know what the SARS-CoV-2 virus will do next, but even mutant coronaviruses fry in UV-C. I am confident that our factory remains as safe as we can make it.
Grant Instruments is based in Shepreth, near Cambridge and has been established for 70 years. It is a world-leading supplier of scientific and laboratory equipment, and exports globally.
Find out more about our ap360 air purifier here.
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