COVID-19: Northern rlys develops hands-free washbasins

COVID-19: Northern railways develops hands-free washbasins for contactless experience

Representative image. (Credit: Pixabay Photo)

The Railways plans to roll out hands-free washbasins at all its stations, field units and hospitals to protect its employees and passengers from coronavirus infection.

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An order was issued Saturday to develop and carry out trial for similar contactless washbasin system for passenger coaches as well.

In this washbasin, the user has to primarily press a pedal attached to the contactless basin with his feet for water and soap to come out from separate dispensers, without touching any knob with his or her hands.

A Northern Railways workshop has, however, manufactured different models of contactless washbasins with the help of local resources and in-house engineering skills - foot-pedal operated with clutch-wire mechanism, foot-pedal operated with mechanical linkage, electro-mechanically operated system, and a sensor-based automatically operated system.

The timeline for the roll-out of the washbasins will depend on the number of orders being given to the Northern Railways' workshop which has developed the model, a senior official of the zone said.

"These hands-free washbasins can be used at stations field units, workshops and hospitals. We are exploring ways to put them on passenger coaches as well and we will start trials soon.

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"We have recognised that the pandemic will spread if we continue with our conventional ways of hand washing at conventional wash basins,” Arun Arora, the Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer, Northern Railway, told PTI.

“The touch-free rugged and reliable washbasins where people can wash their hands as many times as they want without touching the tap or soap dispenser is the answer to this problem."

One unit of the contactless washbasin will tentatively cost around Rs 8,000-Rs 11,000.

Arora said the prices would decrease significantly once they are mass-produced.

The Jagadhri workshop of the Northern Railways, the national transporter's largest zone, has gone big with its contactless innovation, has developed this gadget, leveraging mechatronics.

Seventy such washbasins have already been installed at several field offices of northern railways.

Loaded with automatic sensors, the washbasin is electrically operated along with a standby manual mechanical paddle operation, allowing the user a completely hands-free experience.

Such hands-free washbasins have already been provided at various field units, workshops and other places of the Northern Railway like the Central Hospital, New Delhi.

"Before the resumption of normal work in field units post-lockdown, we plan to install hundreds of such washbasins at all the field units of Northern Railway," said Arora.

Meanwhile, the Electric Loco Shed in Angul, Odisha, has also tried to manufacture a foot-operated hand washbasin which allows people to avoid any contact with water tap or the soap dispenser by hand.

Easily operated using the feet, this design has separate levers for running water and soap dispensers and is being used by the shed staff.

Another attempt has also been made at the East Central Railway (ECR)'s Barwadih Wagon Care Centre in its Dhanbad Division, where a modified washbasin has been developed in which the water tap and the soap-dispenser are mechanically operated without touch.