by Aaron Hunter, MFE Rentals Canada, Eastern Canada Business Development Manager
As a level one Thermographer, I can’t help but be concerned about some of the choices large corporations and businesses are making as they choose a device to scan for elevated body temperature (EBT) to help prevent persons that might be “fighting something” entering the building. Your internal body temperature rises as antibodies spread out to fight a cold or flu or virus. EBT Scanners do not scan for COVID, but they are a screening tool for elevated body temperature, period.
I decided to post this to educate my colleagues and friends as compared to a sales pitch for our unit. We’d love to sell you one but do it once you have all the information. There are posts, videos, and links by experts and they all say three important things.
1) Camera resolution (and software) is a key factor when choosing an EBT scanner. Experts at companies like FLIR (of which we are a distributor) recommend a minimum of 384 x 288 (IR resolution) to be able to pinpoint a specific area on the body from 2 meters away. PLEASE ASK any potential EBT supplier what the resolution of their camera is. If it’s not posted on the specs, be suspicious.
2) Focusing on THE TEAR DUCT is the most accurate location to scan for EBT. Focusing on the forehead or body, or (my personal favorite) large groups of people all at once with jackets and hats and glasses on, they cannot provide the accuracy and consistency every company should want and expect at their front door as people return. Handheld and crowd screening tools scan the forehead and skin temperatures of crowds which can be affected and manipulated by many external factors. The MFE EBT Screener makes a precise scan of the tear duct which is the most accurate representation of internal body temperature.
3) Even the best Handheld Thermal cameras in the world (in my opinion) FLIR, offers a 640 x 480 (IR resolution) handheld unit (T640) that still has a standard variance of plus or minus 2 degrees. Think about that, if you’re normal temperature is 98.9 degrees and you are trying to return to work and the scanner is two degrees off and you scan at 100.9… you might be sent home. We are hearing many companies are setting 100.4 degrees as a cut-off or indication to take more action with the person before allowing entry. So how do we get closer to the true temperature with this FLIR camera or other hi-res cameras? We need a standard or a “constant” that works with the camera. A “black box” or emitter offers a preset acceptable temperature seen in the scan (let’s say 98.6 F) and each scan of the tear duct allows for consistent measurement of each person entering, to 1/2 degree plus or minus.
Do your research, call someone like me, and ask questions. The cost of a second wave of any outbreak and shutdown will cost way more than $2,500. Many companies (like MFE) are offering leasing and even proof of concept testing plans if you’re not sure what works for you.
I recommend you look at the company you are choosing to buy from, are they local? How long have they been in business? Do they offer local support? Where are the units made? How “user friendly” is the software? How fast is the scan? Where are they assembled? Are the units “scalable”? Can they be modified to become a permanent fixture at your place (look around the world it’s already happening)? What’s the lead time to obtain a unit? Will they stand behind their product?
I hope this article directs you and your clients to ask more questions and be more diligent. We are here and have been open as an essential service since all this began. I want to thank MFE Enterprises and our Ownership (Dylan Duke and family) for spending the time, resources, and capital to manufacture our EBT scanner to the high standard I’ve come to expect from MFE.