October 23rd 2020

Start for safe shopping: disinfection of shopping carts with light

MCI joint venture CARE BY LIGHT puts Austria's first system for UV-C light disinfection of shopping carts into operation

First use of the seCUBE for shopping carts in Zirl. ©SPAR
First use of the seCUBE for shopping carts in Zirl. From left: Michael Kraxner (MCI), Felicitas & Gerald Kohler (PLANLICHT) ©SPAR


Regular cleaning of surfaces is essential especially in supermarkets, where shopping carts are constantly used by many customers. The disinfection with UV-C light sets a new standard here. Surfaces are made germ and virus-free without chemical means in shortest time and thus a sufficient hygiene is ensured. This type of cleaning is carried out with the unique "seCUBE" from CARE BY LIGHT, a joint venture of MCI | The Entrepreneurial School® and PLANLICHT. An innovative user-friendly solution far beyond corona times.

The first system in the food retail is now being used by market leader SPAR, where several shopping carts are disinfected simultaneously and without residue. "Right at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, our expertise in lighting technology gave us the idea of developing marketable disinfection solutions using UV-C LED technology", says Felicitas Kohler, CEO of PLANLICHT.

In collaboration between MCI | The Entrepreneurial School®, PLANLICHT, the Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology of the Medical University of Innsbruck and BERGERecotrail, CARE BY LIGHT developed the first prototype "seCUBE" in just seven weeks. This was successfully tested for one week at a SPAR supermarket in Wattens (Tyrol). "The feedback of our customers was very good. Hygiene is an important concern, especially in these times, and for many customers it is a decisive factor in their choice of shopping location. That is why we are always open to such innovations", says Dr. Christof Rissbacher, Managing Director of SPAR headquarters in Wörgl. After further improvements, the second plant in Zirl has now been opened as a second test run in the middle of live operation.

Disinfection with light

In the project, which was funded by the state of Tyrol, the effectiveness of disinfection was investigated together with the Institute for Hygiene and Medical Microbiology at the Medical University of Innsbruck. The director of the institute, Univ.-Prof. Dr.med.univ. Cornelia Lass-Flörl, confirms from evidence-based medicine that: "Approximately ten percent of the general infection pathways can occur via surfaces (exogenous). Disinfection with UV-C light was already known as a relevant solution before the pandemic. Finally with this technology everyday germs, as well as noroviruses and/or mold fungus spores on surfaces can be deactivated". The seCUBE is a cuboid device, in which surfaces of mobile objects are disinfected with light. It is possible to adapt the size, lighting intensity and duration of the device to the respective application area. The surface cleaning by UV-C light completely eliminates the use of chemicals by omitting mercury or ozone and is 100% residue-free. In addition, it is insensitive to a high number of switching cycles, which greatly extends the application-related service life of these systems.

Simple operation

The seCUBE disinfection system in Zirl works semi-automatically and is equipped with a multilevel safety system. Customers fetch and return the shopping carts from the disinfection tunnel, which indicates the possibility of removing the already disinfected carts with indicator lights. If a cart street is full of used shopping carts, a rolling gate closes automatically and the disinfection process begins. The customers are thus provided with a disinfected shopping cart, which eliminates fast and residue-free possible infection transmission from surfaces during the shopping experience.

"In times like these, fast and professional innovation is required so that familiar situations in our everyday lives can continue to be safely enabled. These innovation processes are essential for our project partners and require scientifically sound and rapid problem solving", explains FH Professor DI Dr. Michael Kraxner, who heads R&D at MCI.

Mag. Susanne Crawford | Assistant & Project Manager Marketing & Communications
Mag. Susanne Crawford Assistant & Project Manager +43 512 2070 - 1526