Clean Beam, a Juneau County Company, is pioneering an innovative new technology.
“Clean Beam has basically come up a technology using pulse ultraviolet light, which is an intense sanitization product,” said Clean Beam President Mark Cottone. “We’re sanitizing shoes, we’re going in to food processing plants. It’s a whole new way to do things, it’s a much better way to do things and it’s easier.”
The Clean Beam product is a machine with a platform users step on for a few seconds as the ultraviolet light sanitizes their footwear.
The current conventional method for sanitizing shoes in food production settings is using liquid chemicals. “It’s (often) foam, where people walk through with boots and slip and fall,” Cottone said. Another method is to apply chemicals using rotating brushes that swirl around users’ shoes.
“You just look at the headlines everyday of recalls and people being sick from food contamination,” Whipple said. “What he has is a disruptive technology that could replace these chemicals that are not working very well.”
The effectiveness of these methods is measured using a metric called Log reduction. “Log” stands for logarithm, the exponent of 10, meaning a Log reduction of one would reduce bacteria by 90 percent, or shrinking the number of bacteria 10 times over.
Cottone said many current methods achieve a Log reduction of two, shrinking the number of germs 100 times over. Clean Beam on the other hand, achieves a log reduction of six, shrinking the number of germs 1,000,000 times over.
The decision to turn the Clean Beam idea into a business was made two years ago.
“It’s booming,” Cottone said. “Now there’s a lot of new regulations… people are now seeking us out.”
Lawmakers are beginning to demand food producers maintain traceability on which workers are using sanitation stations and which are not. This new requirement is a benefit to Clean Beam, Cottone says, as traceability is more easily achieved using ultraviolet technology than the current methods.
“Clean Beam does meet and exceed those standards,” Cottone said. “We can do traceability through a swipe card, we can do traceability through a thumb print… next year we are going to do face recognition.”
The Clean Beam product will cost between $50,000 and $60,000 depending on the options, but Cottone is confident the price will not deter clients. Maintenance on Clean Beam products will be low, unlike other systems.
“There’s no chemicals to buy,” Cottone said. “(Others) have to change chemicals multiple times a day to keep it effective… Sometimes in a big plant there’s a crew of people (who) are taking care of this sanitation process every day.”
Sanitation is vital to food production to keep pathogens from getting into food and causing people to get sick or even in some cases die. Many of these pathogens are on the ground and can be transported through surfaces on footwear.
Clean Beam’s technology has applications outside of food production as well. The nutraceutical and pharmaceutical fields could both benefit from effective, low maintenance sanitation as well as researchers working in a lab environment.
“The word is spreading within the FDA that we’ve got this great idea, so people are starting to come around and look at it,” Cottone said.
Cottone wants Juneau County to benefit from Clean Beam’s growth. “Our big push for 2019 is to bring jobs to Juneau County,” Cottone said. “We hope to bring a minimum of 20 jobs here, and potentially it could be 50 or more.” The company currently has eight people working at the company’s office in Necedah.
“That’s what we want here in Juneau County,” Whipple said. “(for us) to really take the industry quickly.”
Clean Beam was recently selected as one of 34 finalists of 357 applicants for the Wisconsin Innovation Award. The winner of the award will be announced Oct. 3, just as Clean Beam will begin manufacturing the company’s products.