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HandleSmart & Southco: Helping to get a Handle on the Fight Against COVID-19

HandleSmart & Southco: Helping to get a Handle on the Fight Against COVID-19


HandleSmart is an innovative self-cleaning door handle proven to kill 99% of germs. Originally developed in response to poor handwashing practices, it is now playing an important role in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19. HandleSmart features sophisticated rotation technology that enables it to clean itself by rotating antimicrobial gel evenly after every use. It is designed for areas where handles are the most common points of bacterial and viral transmission, such as offices and commercial spaces, public toilets, restaurants and shops, as well as hospitals and medical facilities. Easy to install and with a 1.5L capacity of antimicrobial gel providing 3000 operations between refills, HandleSmart is key to helping reduce the transmission of COVID-19

The Challenge 

HandleSmart initially developed their self-cleaning handle in response to the persistently poor standards of post-toilet hand washing habits among the general population. Even in the most prosperous countries, just 50% of people use hand washing facilities after visiting the toilet. Other research has shown that only 60% of UK office workers wash their hands after using the lavatory.

In response, two innovators developed the concept of a self-cleaning door handle which kills 99% of germs and enhances standards of hygiene. HandleSmart’s creators recognised the need to act quickly to ensure the product was available to support organisations in responding to changing hygiene requirements. The team secured the patent in January 2019 just as new requirements for public hygiene
practices were being implemented in response to COVID-19.

During this period, members of the public were encouraged to use self-service kiosks and interfaces to reduce the risks of viral transmission through face-to-face interactions. However, the wider issue of poor hand-washing practices makes the terminals themselves a risk for spreading of the virus.

The HandleSmart team had to move quickly to ensure their product was ready to help address this critical challenge. They needed to make the application as secure and intuitive as possible for use in busy environments around the world. HandleSmart’s integral gel dispensing box is key to its performance in reducing the spread of germs. As a vital feature in making the solution practical and effective, it
had to be fully secure and reliable, with minimal risk of tampering. To achieve this, HandleSmart required a latch to secure the main access to the dispensing box. It had to be:

  • Cost effective without compromising on quality and style
  • Inconspicuous in design to maintain the application’s streamlined look
  • Durable to a standard to maintain a long life-cycle in busy environments
  • Intuitive and easy to use for maintenance staff refilling the gel dispenser

The Solution 

HandleSmart’s creators identified the DZUS® Lion 82 series Quarter-Turn Fastener from engineered access hardware leader Southco, as the best choice for their dispenser box latch. They recognised that Southco had the capability and proven track record to solve their design challenges and help them achieve their wish list when other providers could not.

The HandleSmart team also valued the fact that Southco was already helping to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Southco is a recognised producer of components for ventilator and diagnostic OEMs. The company also manufactures products such as antimicrobial latches and IP69k-rated hinges and hardware for safe high pressure, heated wash-downs of medical and clean room equipment.

Southco’s DZUS® Lion 82 series Quarter-Turn Fastener provides a number of key benefits for HandleSmart’s application.

Seamless security

The DZUS® 82 series fastener offers a high standard of security to ensure that the enclosure containing the antimicrobial gel remains securely closed, helping the HandleSmart to perform effectively. The latch has a hex recess head style which makes it operable only by tool, significantly reducing the risks and potential costs of tampering. Its low profile and discreet space-saving design further decreases the likelihood of attempted vandalism.

Easy maintenance access

While HandleSmart requires minimal maintenance, the DZUS® 82 series fastener features a quick release function to make servicing even faster and easier. This reduces the need for frequent maintenance checks and enables businesses to maximise their staffing budget at a time when COVID-19
requirements make managing on-premises hygiene more costly and time-intensive.

Durable performance

Because HandleSmart is used in busy areas, a high level of durability is essential. The gel dispenser latch is designed to withstand repeated vibration, ensuring a long life-cycle, and also retains a strong, consistent clamping force with repeated operation. It holds captive to the panel, providing ease of use and removing the risk of lost hardware. Being highly tested and corrosion-resistant the fastener also maintains its integrity and appearance throughout the lifetime of the application.

High aesthetic impact

As an innovative product designed for use in busy areas, every element of HandleSmart had to meet a high aesthetic standard. The sleek look and low profile design of the Southco DZUS® Lion 82 series Quarter-Turn Fastener aligns with the contemporary style of the handle.

The Implementation

Southco has enhanced HandleSmart’s sales and global reputation by providing a high quality and cost-effective solution which met all of its design team’s requirements in a timely way. The speed of installation of the quarter-turn fastener into the application improved the handle’s delivery to market time.

The quality and performance of Southco’s DZUS® 82 series fastener has helped contribute to product orders in India, America, Asia and the UK in environments such as bathrooms, offices, factories, restaurants and hotels, and is being applied to doors into clean rooms and hospitals as well.

Partnering with Southco enables HandleSmart. to benefit from a global network of manufacturing sites support and distribution. As the orders for HandleSmart begin to ramp up at the company’s Asian production site, the team is able to benefit from local support at Southco’s neighbouring facility.

In assuring the security and performance of HandleSmart’s gel dispenser box, Southco has supported the product’s impact on the fight against COVID-19.

The Results

Due to the unique pressures of bringing an innovative product to market, it was important for HandleSmart to find a latching product that combined exceptional security, reliability and durability, from a partner with global design and manufacturing presence and proven industry expertise.

Southco is a key partner in HandleSmart’s role in reducing the impact of COVID-19 and improving wider public hygiene,” said HandleSmart Designer Martin Wollacott. “We are proud that HandlesSmart is helping to protect people around the world against the spread of the virus and Southco
has a key role in supporting this.

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