A Look At The New Cleaning Technology Hong Kong Airport Is Using

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Hong Kong’s Airport Authority is applying “the latest disinfection technologies” in its efforts to combat COVID-19. According to a press release issued last week, this will include the application of chemical treatments as well as the use of cleaning robots. Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has probably never been cleaner than it is today.

Cleaning procedures at HKIA
Workers are treating almost every surface in the airport with an antimicrobial coating. Photo: Hong Kong International Airport

“Disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating and autonomous cleaning robots”, these are among the various methods of passenger protection being employed at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to protect passengers and airport staff from COVID-19.

“The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority. Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work.” -Steven Yiu, Deputy Director, Service Delivery of the AA

Hard work meets new technologies

It won’t be a simple task to treat and clean the world’s 8th busiest airport. However, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority is up to the challenge as it aims to reassure the traveling public as well as airport and airline employees. In addition to an army of workers meticulously treating surfaces throughout the airport, some new technologies will be introduced in the process.

Cleaning procedures at HKIA
“Touchpoints” all over the airport terminal will undergo disinfection. Photo: Hong Kong International Airport

“CLeanTech” is being introduced to the terminal – a world-first for airports. HKIA calls it “a full-body disinfection channel facility” and is now running it as a trial in live operations. The following are some of the key aspects of CLeanTech:

  • A temperature check is conducted before entering an enclosed channel.
  • This is followed by a 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedure.
  • The interior surface of the channel is equipped with an antimicrobial coating which can remotely kill virus and bacteria on the body and on clothing using a “photocatalyst” and “nano needles.”
  • Sanitizing spray is also applied for instant disinfection.
  • The channel is kept under negative pressure to prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment.
Cleaning procedures at HKIA
Currently, the CLeanTech facility is designated for use by staff who take part in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers. Photo: Hong Kong International Airport

CLeanTech isn’t the only high-tech equipment in use. In fact, cleaning robots are also deployed to “ensure thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities in HKIA”. Known as an Intelligent Sterilization Robot, the machine is equipped with ultraviolet light sterilizer and air sterilizer. It is being deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building, autonomously sterilizing up to 99.99% of bacteria in its vicinity, including both the air and object surfaces.

Covering virtually every surface by hand

HKIA is also trialing the application of an antimicrobial coating at all passenger facilities. This invisible coating will destroy germs, bacteria and viruses that may exist on high-touch surfaces in the terminal. This includes:

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  • Handles and seats of Automated People Movers and passenger buses
  • Smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters
  • Toilets
  • Seating areas in the terminal
  • Baggage trolleys
  • Elevator buttons and more

Based on the results of this month-long trial, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority will evaluate and consider further implementation of this procedure as a long term disinfection measure.

Cleaning procedures at HKIA
After a month-long trial, the airport authority will evaluate suitability for longer-term use. Photo: Hong Kong International Airport

Conclusion

Considering most airports around the world only used regular industrial cleaning products prior to COVID-19, these efforts will likely be a huge improvement to previous processes. This combined with a more common tendency towards wearing face masks and maintaining social distance will likely ensure that any kind of infection doesn’t spread as fast as it once could have.

What do you think of these new procedures? Are they enough? Or is it too over the top? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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