KANSAS CITY, MO. - The ways in which companies keep their workers and facilities safe will likely never be the same.

Bowling Green, Ohio-based DayMark Safety Systems, for instance, has quickly pivoted towards products that are especially relevant in a world forever changed by the coronavirus, said Jill Carte, the company’s director of product development.

“In addition to carrying medical infrared thermometers for health monitoring and floor decals that help enforce social distancing practices, we are developing two new additions to the MenuPilot suite of kitchen automation apps that will help operators maintain a safe working environment,” she said.

The first of those apps, the DayMark Receiving Module, allows staff to ask delivery drivers a short set of questions that verify whether the driver could potentially be COVID-19-positive. It gives the user the ability to reject a shipment based on that information.

In addition, DayMark’s upcoming task management app includes a temp monitoring feature that allows managers to check staff members’ temperatures and record the data in a “sick log,” where each staff member’s overall health (including injuries, illnesses, etc.) is tracked.

What separates DayMark from its competitors, Carte said, is the company’s laser focus on foodservice, whether in a commercial or non-commercial environment. The company’s senior management, she added, also has extensive experience in the janitorial and sanitary supply field, giving DayMark a deep understanding of how to keep facilities safe in infectious disease environments.

The current situation with COVID requires workers to work much more closely with their partners, as everyone is coping and learning together, said Bill Curtis, DayMark’s vice president of sales.

“These are very fluid times, and communication is more important than ever. We are staying agile to meet new needs and adjust to a changing marketplace.”

For sanitation and cleaning products that are outside their core product offering, DayMark has seen increased demand for hand sanitizers, surface sanitizing sprays, and even N-95 masks, said Deb Duvernay, the company’s executive director of sales.

“We have supported key customers as best we can, but we can see the supply chain struggling to keep up,” she said. “For our core products, we see our grocery partners moving forward with automation initiatives for food safety labeling and temperature monitoring.”

DayMark’s safety efforts reach beyond facilities themselves, Carte added. The company’s TamperSeal tamper-evident labels, for instance, provide safe food delivery for restaurants and retail food establishments that utilize third-party delivery.

The labels feature an aggressive patterned adhesive that gives a clear indication if delivered food may have been tampered with. TamperSeal labels are functional in a wide range of temperatures and approved for indirect food contact, Carte said.

The new normal

Rowdy Brixey, president of Brixey Engineering Inc., Holt, Mo., and his team learned early on how the food industry has changed  and will continue to be impacted by the coronavirus.

“Customers would ask about our service and we’d immediately have to think about the geographical restrictions,” he said. “Like if we went into Texas, any outside contractors who came in had to be quarantined for 14 days. Well, we wouldn’t be able to pay for a hotel for 14 days, so we may have to turn it down.”

For the customers Brixey Engineering could get in to help, they quickly learned how widely different their COVID protocols could be. Some took temperatures as they entered the building, others didn’t. Some provided masks, others not.

“Every single day before my folks enter a site, they have to sign up, using picture editing on their phones,” Brixey said. “There’s a limited number of questions they have to answer, then sign with their finger on their phone before they can walk into a facility. Then I compile it and send it to that site.”

Once on the job, Brixey Engineering outlines cleaning and safety regimens for its clients to stick to.

“For all of our customers, we try to look at what will be the highest sustainability level of cleanliness, health and safety we can apply,” he said. “Ours would either meet or exceed their levels. They have the best practices, they’ve learned from their customers, have brainstormed and compiled all that.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to COVID, it may not be a question of when it will be over, Brixey said, but will it ever be over?

“I’m not sure if any person is able to define that, when is it over, when can we lower our guard,” he said. “The hard part is you don’t know for 14 days that you are symptomatic. Part of this is everyone having integrity and trusting each other to do the right things.”

Some parts of the “new normal” will likely be with us permanently, Brixey predicted. He could see, for instance, US food production plants adopting some version of what he and his team see when they go to inspect a Bimbo plant in Mexico: people wearing a face mask that basically covers their entire face, not just their nose and mouth.

“I have a feeling that for the cost and level of protection, I think that something like could lead to more lasting change,” he said. “I don’t think everyone will be taking their temperatures a year from now, but there will likely be questions about where you’re coming in from, how are you feeling.”

The key, Brixey said, is finding a cure. He compares working around COVID to working with a deadly animal.

“If you’re working with rattlesnakes, you feel a lot better knowing there’s antivenom within reach, and you know you’re not going to die,” he said. “If they come up with a treatment, things will get back to normal fairly quick.”

This story is from the June 2020 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. To view the full magazine, click here.