One of Optex’s core technologies is optical measurement. Kikkoman Biochemifa, on the other hand, specializes in biotechnology and luminescence technology, and the Lumitester Smart ATP hygiene monitoring system was developed from a fusion of knowledge between these two completely different industries.
This system is the embodiment of an idea adopted by the joint develop project members in response to careful consideration of the issues customers face. That idea is to help countries throughout the world promote cleanliness and safety.
Lumitester Smart—An ATP Hygiene Monitoring System Offering Intuitive Hygiene Management
The goal of hygiene management is to maintain site cleanliness to prevent adverse health effects caused by food poisoning or other infections. Common causes for food poisoning and other infections include dirt on the hands, on instruments, or on equipment. That is why hygiene is such an extremely important factor.
At food processing facilities, healthcare facilities, hotels, restaurants, and other sites, thorough washing and cleaning are performed daily, and hygiene management is regularly implemented. However, no matter how clean a location may look, dirt that cannot be seen may still be present.
To solve this dilemma, Optex and Kikkoman Biochemifa developed an ATP hygiene monitoring system to measure dirt particles undetectable to the human eye, allowing users to determine whether a cleaning process was adequate in about 10 seconds.
Focusing on the User
Optex is a firm believer in developing products as a result of on-site needs, and this idea is applied not only to business-to-business solutions but also to business-to-business-to-customer solutions.
In this situation, Kikkoman Biochemifa is the second business, and the customers are those who actually use the product, including administrators of food processing facilities, healthcare facilities, hotels, and restaurants.
● Keeping the end user’s perspective in mind
For this product, the development team visited a small Western cuisine restaurant in Tokyo.
There, the team not only observed the entire process—from cooking to serving—but also interviewed the owner-chef about the restaurant’s hygiene management measures and common issues.
The team also paid close attention to both the areas requiring hygiene management and the staff involved.
• Despite the careful washing procedure, confirmation and judgment of the actual cleanliness of the area was not possible.
• Inspections are generally considered difficult because the equipment was hard to operate, so there was a strong desire to make inspections easy and accurate even for beginners.
• Testing for bacteria is generally lengthy and expensive.
• Users were interested in inspiring motivation to further their efforts.
• Site administrators should be able to understand the situation and respond accordingly in as little time as possible.
• The user interface is simple, intuitive, and easy to use even for beginners, and results can be visualized using the available mobile app.
• Results include not only measurements of invisible dirt but also a pass/fail judgment, making it possible to discover potential factors that might have been overlooked and to raise hygiene awareness on a daily basis.
• Information on the user, the measurement location, and the results are stored in the cloud, enabling administrators to understand the situation at multiple locations remotely. This makes it possible to maintain good hygiene through quick handling and proper guidance.
● Working together with Kikkoman Biochemifa as a system supplier
In the quest for the Lumitester Smart, Optex worked to achieve a vision its business partner—Kikkoman Biochemifa—wanted to achieve.
That vision involved accumulating and sharing customer test results through a system that could be used to help customers improve their hygiene management.
• Data is not being used effectively at many sites, and measurement is instead performed on the spot.
• Records are often kept by hand in notebooks, making it difficult to collect and review past data.
• Only those in charge understand the data, and the data is not shared internally.
• The developed app is easy to use even for beginners and accumulates data automatically with no need for user input.
• Data can be easily visualized such as through automatic graphing and automatic analysis of measured data.
• The system is connected directly to the cloud, making it possible to check data from anywhere in the world.
Creating New Experiences for Customers
The Lumitester Smart ATP hygiene monitoring system was developed as a joint project based on the combined knowledge and synergy of members from different industries.
Tatsuoka：The abundance of products and services has made it difficult to attract customers with products alone. This system was designed with a focus on the customer experience through the aim to inspire satisfaction, joy, and other emotions in customers upon use in addition to the functional value. I believe that new ideas for customer experiences are not easily discovered even through discussions with other team members if those members are in the same field. However, discussions with individuals from a different background make it possible to obtain new ideas that incorporate knowledge and experiences beyond one’s own, thereby making it possible to improve the user experience.
Shiga：The novel aspect of this particular development endeavor was the construction of a system capable of accumulating measurement data automatically in an app with no input from the user, and the ability for users to easily visualize and manage hygiene. We also took up the challenge of creating a cloud system that customers could utilize. The idea for this arose from the inconvenience of having to write measurement results down in notebooks for hygiene management, making it difficult to collect data from numerous sources. At first, we had no experience in cloud-based operations, so the challenges incorporated with cloud computing were the most daunting. However, Optex has abundant experience with the cloud, so deciding on the deployment method went smoothly. By basing the system in the cloud, I think we have made it possible to reach a wider audience.
I sincerely hope that this system, which is the result of not only the trust between partner companies but also of the desire of group members to provide something beneficial to society throughout the world, will become a global standard of hygiene management.
Adopting an Engineering Perspective
Tatsuoka：Rather than developing a product based on a customer request, the engineers enjoyed the challenge of assessing the customer’s situation, finding the underlying challenges, designing solutions, and finally creating a product that could implement those solutions.
Throughout the process, the team faced the challenge of incorporating new approaches such as communication technology, software development, and user experiences—all centered on Optex’s core focus of optical technology—in addition to pressure to develop the product as quickly as possible.
Then, in 2018, hygiene management became institutionalized through HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) certification, which increased the need for hygiene management in food and other industries. This meant we needed to increase the product development speed even more by shortening the development period and accelerating the product introduction cycle in order to take advantage of the current trends and deliver the product to the market in a timely manner.
With this project, I think we were all inspired by a strong desire to revolutionize hygiene management, and this desire really helped push us forward.
In the future, we hope to continue developing solutions that are not only useful but also help address problems that may not yet be evident.
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