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VIDEO: Robot improves safety at Polokwane hospital

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 06 Dec 2022
The Hero21 robotic system is used in medical environments, as well as other industries to disinfect rooms. (Image by Lesley Moyo)
The Hero21 robotic system is used in medical environments, as well as other industries to disinfect rooms. (Image by Lesley Moyo)

Polokwane Provincial Hospital has become the first South African healthcare institution to deploy the Hero21 robotic sanitisation system.

The hospital has installed two units of the robotics system in a move aimed at improving patient and healthcare worker safety.

The Hero21 is used in medical environments, as well as other industries, to disinfect rooms, protect employees and significantly reduce the risk of infections.

It was developed by German company ICA Health, endorsed by Ruhr University Bochum and global electronics group Omron, which is responsible for the production of the robotics components, which are supported by its South African operation.

Mamello Clinical Solutions (MCS) is the exclusive distributor and service partner for the Hero21 system for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Robert Makhubedu, business development manager at MCS, explains: “The Hero21 robot incorporates pioneering ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection technology, which addresses the hygiene challenges of our time.”

Conventional disinfection methods in hospitals, such as wiping and scrubbing, are often inadequate and can even promote germ resistance, he notes.

“The Hero21 provides the highest level of disinfection performance and thus offers optimal protection. When first disinfecting contaminated rooms with the Hero21, the cleaning staff who normally work in the front line are exposed to a far lower risk of infection,” Makhubedu says.

According to MCS, UVC radiation destroys all pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, in the targeted environment.

It notes that because UVC radiation is effective on its own, the Hero21 robot is a dry, chemical-free system.

“We are pleased to have been able to deliver the first Hero21 disinfection robots to South Africa,” says Steffen Kriege, head of product management at ICA Health.

“We have found in Mamello Clinical Solutions, an ideal service and sales partner for a long and successful partnership. With the successful installation of the first two devices in Polokwane, a major milestone has been reached.”

Commenting on the relationship between Omron and ICA Health, Evert Jansen Van Vuuren, Omron robotisation solutions co-ordinator, says: “Our mission as Omron is to improve the lives of people we operate in and serve.

“The Hero21 robot disinfects multiple areas so that people from all walks of life can work in a safe germ-free environment. The Hero21 works well with the Omron AMR navigation technology, which enables it to operate remotely without human intervention.”

While sanitising systems have been in use for years, the COVID-19 pandemic motivated ICA Health to ramp up the development of a robust system for hospitals.

The German-based firm says the Hero21 system is effective in high-risk areas, including operating theatres, emergency rooms and ICUs – as well as in other hospital settings.

It explains that because UVC radiation is dangerous, people are removed from the room and the robot moves through the space. Disinfection is achieved automatically, precisely, quickly and efficiently, the company adds.

According to the firm, the robot achieves a disinfection level of over 99.99%, with a coverage of 360-degrees in the designated area.

The cleaning cycle takes between two to three minutes to disinfect an average-sized room, such as an operating theatre, it notes, adding the robot’s navigation system in the target area is driven by Omron LD90 robotics.

Apart from applications in the medical and healthcare sectors, the Hero21 is also suited for other industries, such as hotels, restaurants and catering, pharmaceuticals and corporate office buildings.