One of the new norms (or should I say ritual) that I have adapted is the sanitization of my hands with alcohol disinfecting solution. Being a little paranoid, I would clean everything I touched, including my table, my laptop, my mobile phone before and after each usage. I also sanitize my hands every hour. Two months into my new cleaning routine, I noticed that my touchpad had lost its matte surface, it´s glossy now.
The increasing frequency of cleaning and sanitizing along with the usage of alcohol disinfecting solution has become very common in reducing microorganisms on operator interfaces. Hence, cleaning ergonomics has become a crucial consideration in the design of operator interface solutions.
This blog is not intended to talk about specific cleaning requiremets for the Food and Beverage industry or in reference to IP 69 rated protection levels. But as there are no guidelines for hygienic and easy to clean design of operator solutions with pushbuttons, let me provide some practical tips on how to create operator solutions with pushbuttons, which are alcohol cleaning friendly.
The raw material of the pushbuttons must be resistant against discolouring, deforming, or developing cracks when sanitized with 70% alcohol solution. Having the right raw material and surface treatment will improve the resistance of pushbuttons against alcohol. Perhaps surprising, but true: both metal and plastic pushbuttons can be alcohol-resistant with the correct chemical treatment.
Spacing between pushbuttons is an important attribute in operation ergonomic. It is getting more crucial when it comes to cleaning an operator interface. Recommended horizontal spacing is 30mm; vertical spacing is 40mm for a 22mm pushbutton. Anything less than this will result in difficulty in installation, operation and maintenance of the operator interface. See Panel Cut-out for Pushbuttons, Switches and Pilot Lights
Contamination happens on the surface touched by an operator. Cross infection occurs when the operator starts his shift without cleaning his operator interface first. Flush-mounted pushbuttons improve the cleaning process. Reducing those protruding parts on the operator interface provides the alternative to cleaning the surface by wiping with a towel instead of go-karting your finger between pushbuttons and ending up with a trapped finger.
Now you know a bit more about hygienic aspects of pushbuttons. To find out (even) more about good pushbutton design, read the blog Practical tips for enhanced ergonomics and design for operator interfaces.