Africa food factory deploys COVID-19 smart helmet

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The helmet is used in more than 35 countries
The helmet is used in more than 35 countries

Related tags coronavirus Technology & Automation

A major African noodle factory is using a smart helmet to help protect workers from, and screen them for, infection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dufil Group, which is responsible for the production of Indomie, one of the world’s most popular Mi Goreng instant noodle brands, has deployed the KC N901 Smart Helmet, developed by KC Wearable, in its plant in Nigeria. The country has seen almost 57,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far.

The device allows users to screen multiple individuals for fever, which KC Wearable claims it can detect with 96% accuracy, helping to stop the spread of the virus.

Unlike traditional static thermal cameras, the wearable headset improves the efficiency and flexibility of COVID-19 screening, enabling the user to freely move around an area. KC Wearable claims the helmet can scan up to 200 people a minute.

Working in collaboration with KC Wearable, Dufil Group has tailored the smart helmet to fit the requirements of a factory setting. This includes personalised detection, enabling security staff to isolate outbreaks.

Augmented reality

Powered by augmented reality technology, the helmet visor’s thermo-scan sensors show the temperature of people in real time. The helmet is effective within a five-metre radius, enabling the wearer to maintain social distancing, and has the potential to link up to other data on COVID-19 tracking apps. The device stores all data itself with a 64GB internal memory.

Beyond Nigeria, the helmet is also in use in more than 35 countries, including Indonesia, the UAE, Italy, Netherlands, Kuwait, Chile, Turkey and multiple African countries. KC Wearable has partnered with national authorities and major transport hubs such as airports, as well as schools and hospitals, to detect COVID-19 symptoms in a range of settings.

However, Denis Treacy, chief executive officer of Culture Compass and former chief safety, quality, security and environment officer at Pladis Global, was sceptical about the practicality of the device. In a LinkedIn post in response to the article, he stated: "Fascinating but impractical for most I fear. I had a challenge to find funding for basic PPE ​[personal protective equipment] such as gloves and masks for ops using high pressure steam lances in my three plants in Lagos in the early days, as margins were so low for FMCG."

Treacy is giving a presentation on cultivating a food safety culture at factory level in Food Manufacture​'s online Food Safety Briefing - sponsored by Thermo Fisher Scientific - on 7 October at 3pm UK time. For more details on the programme, click here​ or to sign up to listen for free, visit the registration page​.

Dr Jie Guo, global head of KC Wearable, said: "We are very pleased to be working with Dufil Group. The KC N901 Smart Helmet is helping to keep workers safe whilst enabling the factory to run as smoothly as possible during the pandemic.

'Empowering factories and businesses'

"KC Wearable’s mission from the outset has been to allow normal life to resume. Whilst we are still a long way off normality, empowering factories and businesses to continue to function during the pandemic is a very important step in the right direction. We hope to continue to support businesses throughout the pandemic.”

Changdev Markad, technical manager at Dufil Group, said: “We ensure that all workers are screened at the start of their shifts, allowing us to identify high temperatures – a key symptom of COVID-19 – and limit the spread of the virus.

“We have worked closely with KC Wearable to tailor the helmet to our specific requirements, allowing us to personalise screening to individual employees so that we can easily identify potential threats, whilst simultaneously protecting the rest of the workforce by isolating outbreaks. The KC Helmet is a fantastic asset and a natural choice for our business, allowing us to continue to function during the pandemic.”

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