RS Components, the trading brand of Electrocomponents, has joined forces with miniature programmable logic controller (PLC) manufacturer BARTH Elektronik to develop a product assembly project that aids social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project, called the ‘People Counter’, can be assembled in less than an hour. The device records the number of people entering and exiting a room, indicating when it is safe to allow more people to enter, while still being able to maintain the recommended distance from others.
This can be particularly useful in retail environments where safe physical distancing can be difficult to control.
Two photoelectric proximity sensors, or light barriers, detect the direction of movement, while a miniature PLC calculates the number of people entering and leaving the store in real time.
A password-protected touch screen is used to pre-set the maximum people limit and also serves as a traffic-light system, illuminating green when access is granted and red when access is denied.
There is also an audio alert.
The miniature PLC processes the data and controls the display.
The project design is very simple, says RS Components.
All of the parts required are available to purchase from RS, and the full bill of material, 3D data, software and manuals can be downloaded from the RS DesignSpark engineering website. A short video gives instruction on how to build the system.
“The idea came from the challenge that many businesses currently face when restricting the number of people in shops,” says BARTH Elektronik CEO Daniel Barth.
“Maintaining a reasonable maximum can reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading further through human contact. It was important to find a precise, contactless solution that could protect public health, while avoiding the costs associated with employing extra staff to monitor numbers manually.”
“This is a simple project that could have a huge, positive impact on the way retailers help protect customers from Covid-19 while they are out shopping,” adds RS Components innovation VP Mike Bray.
“We would encourage any [manufacturers] keen to help combat the virus to look at this project and consider how it could support businesses in their area, and then perhaps help those retailers to implement it.”