Barnsley tech company helps employers get their staff back to work safely

An innovative Barnsley business is delivering smart tech solutions to help employers protect employees from the risk of Coronavirus in the workplace.

Contrac IT, based at the Digital Media Centre (DMC), is providing a new digital alert wristband to help workers maintain safe two metre distances; new thermal screening cameras to enable managers to routinely monitor staff for signs of infection; and a state-of-the-art UVC disinfection system which can be used to scan rooms and kill any virus pathogens within minutes.

The IT services provider has worked in collaboration with safety tech company, Tended, who have developed the digital wristband technology. Tended is also part of the DMC’s extended community of tech companies as a graduate of a business accelerator programme based at the centre.

Contrac IT has clients in food production, manufacturing and public service many of whom are big employers facing the new health and safety challenges presented by Coronavirus. 

Managing director Mark Harding said: “The companies we supply want to ensure their staff have real peace of mind at work. Whether they are food producers who have continued to work through this crisis or other manufacturers who are just looking to re-start operations, they need processes in place to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their workforces.

“We’ve very much taken the view that if there is anything we can do to help, then we should. We’ve talked to our friends at Tended and at other companies and launched a range of synergistic solutions to help businesses mitigate against the spread of the virus in factories, workshops and offices.”

Tended’s wristband features an ultra-wideband proximity tag which measures the distance between users. If the wearer comes within a set distance of a colleague, it automatically vibrates to alert them to move apart. To accompany the wristband, Contrac will offer independent support and help employers identify any unforeseen jams or pinch points in their workplace or any staff members who may need further training or support to improve distance management.

A second innovation developed by Contrac is a CCTV thermal camera for use at entrances to workplaces. This specialist infrared camera has been configured to achieve optimum performance so that it can detect higher than normal temperatures in people entering the workplace up to 0.3 degrees accuracy. Any indication that someone has an elevated temperature can then be quickly followed up with a clinical thermometer test and an employee with a confirmed fever can be identified and isolated immediately.

The third tool in Contrac’s new tool kit is a Wi-Fi-connected UVC decontamination device – more commonly used in acute healthcare settings in the past. This automated tech solution uses ultra-violet to scan a workroom, office or restaurant on, say, a daily basis and kill 99.9999 per cent of all germs and pathogens on surfaces and in the air. Contrac have collaborated with Finsen Tech Ltd to bring this product to market and they are Finsen’s only UK distributor into food manufacturing, logistics and hospitality sectors.

Mark said: “One of the most important aspects of these new tools is the reassurance they give employers, employees and customers that the situation in their workplace is being monitored closely and automatically with managed tech solutions.

“With Tended’s wristband, workers can personally feel in control of their own physical space, with social distancing being monitored 100 per cent of the time even when they are focused on their work.”

Contrac has already implemented some of these Covid19 protective measures with UK food production clients and is now talking to manufacturers and restaurants.

Contrac is a growing UK company with an international customer base and has been based at the DMC for two years. It employs 45 people in offices across the north east and is soon to move its headquarters into larger offices in the new DMC 02 building.

Tended is an award-winning Lincoln-based company founded by Leo Scott Smith who spent six months at the DMC in 2018 taking part in the  IoT Tribe Accelerator programme – designed to help ‘Internet of Things’ start-ups get new products to market and scale up their businesses. Tended has since secured an Innovate UK grant and were identified as a Tech Nation ‘Rising Star’ in 2019.

Tracey Johnson, manager of the DMC, said: “Contrac’s initiative is a perfect example of how smaller innovative digital companies can make a huge impact on the economy. They can move quickly and use their knowledge of the latest technology to support big employers to manage their response to the challenges of Covid19. They can help them deliver their all-important duty of care commitments effectively and efficiently – and get people back to work safely.

“It’s also ideal they are collaborating with one of our first graduates of the IoT Tribe North Accelerator.  These collaborations are the future of digital innovation and a key part of what we aim to facilitate here in Barnsley.”

Founder of IoT Tribe, Tanya Suarez, said: ” IoT Tribe is about finding the match between exceptional founders with unique technologies like Tended and our partners like the DMC and its business community. From the start of our relationship over three years ago, we have worked seamlessly and fluidly with the team at the DMC. We are truly proud to consider them part of the founding Tribe and continue to look forward to doing great things together in the future.”

Jem Henderson, of Tech Nation (Yorkshire), said: “As businesses start to get back to a sense of normal, it seems logical that we can use technology to help us achieve effective social distancing. Tended have once again demonstrated their great agility and smarts when it comes to pivoting and creating tech to keep people safe.”