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May 7, 2020

GM to install factory fever scanners

Thermal camera makes Flir Systems will supply General Motors with scanners to detect fevers among workers when they return to car factories, the companies said.

By Olly Wehring

Thermal camera maker Flir Systems will supply General Motors with scanners to detect fevers among workers when they return to car factories, the companies said.

General Motors and the supplier told Reuters 377 Flir scanners would be deployed across 72 sites.

The cameras scan workers for high temperatures from several feet away in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The pandemic has shuttered many of GM's North American plants, but company officials have outlined plans to restart production on 18 May, the report noted.

GM's corporate medical director Jeffery Hess told Reuters when employees prepare to enter the factory floor, they will be required to sanitise their hands, don a mask and goggles, answer several questions about possible symptoms and then undergo a temperature check.

Once employees have been trained on the new entry procedure, the entire process takes between 30 and 45 seconds, GM officials told the news agency. At full operating levels, GM has about 85,000 employees in the United States, and when combined with contractors, about 100,000 people enter its plants each day.

"We can get a couple hundred people through the door rapidly" using fever scanners, Hess said. "Some facilities have 1,000 people on a shift. That's a lot of people to get through the door."

Hess said the company would use medical grade thermometers to double check any thermal temperature scans that come in over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cameras are being combined with other measures such as giving workers time to sanitise their workstation each shift and social distancing measures, Hess told Reuters.

Until the coronavirus pandemic, the bulk of thermal camera sales were for military or industrial purposes. GM said 89 of its Flir scanners were devices it already had on hand for research or manufacturing operations that were being re-purposed.

Flir chief executive James Cannon said on an earnings call this week Flir saw about US$100m in orders for coronavirus-related cameras and sensors.

Reuters previously reported Flir was working with Amazon to supply fever scanners but Flir said it could not comment on any potential relationship with Amazon.

Thermoteknix Systems from the United Kingdom has won deals with Tyson Foods while Santa Barbara, California based Seek Thermal said sales in the first four months of 2020 were two-and-a-half times that of the previous year.

"Hopefully, it will keep people who really do have a fever from going to work sick," Seek co founder Bill Parrish told Reuters.

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