Sterilized in 60 seconds: DL Company helps build shopping cart cleaning machine
If those shopping carts could talk, people would understand their daily misadventures with germs:
Sick kids for passengers ... raw chicken drippings that leaked from the package ... sneeze-covered handles ... babies wiggling around in the cart seat with a stinky "surprise."
Shopping carts don't have a much better reputation than a bathroom doorknob, but a couple of local companies are joining forces to fight the bacterial battle on a national scale.
Fargo company Kart Kleen Wash was formed last year when Craig LeNoue, owner of All Season's sanitizing service, took his invention to Detroit Lakes man Dan Friesen.
"I had been working on this thing for 10 years, but I needed technical help ... hydraulics and stuff that's way over my head," said LeNoue.
Detroit Lakes company Friesen's Inc. builds stainless steel food processing equipment, so when this project was put on Dan Friesen's lap (and the laps of he and his brother's 47 local employees), he knew just what to do.
"My engineers and automation crew sized all the hydraulics, the pumps, the flows, and computerized it so that it was automated," Friesen said, "and now what we're doing is taking it to the next level in the future of machines."
Trial after trial and error after error, the team now has a mobile machine capable of sanitizing a seemingly endless line of carts ... a feat LeNoue says nobody else could figure out how to do efficiently.
Here's how it works:
Each cart is sprayed down manually first, then it's propelled onto a trailer, one by one, where it very slowly rolls through a sanitizing machine.
"There are 36 specially designed, strategically placed spray nozzles hitting every area of the cart with water that is 360 degrees," explains Kart Kleen Wash National Sales Rep Ron Lammers. "Then it's hit again by an eco-friendly sanitizing soap."
A rinse off, a quick dry, and the carts emerge 99.9 percent germ-free.
One cart takes one minute.
Lammers says the entire operation is "green", as the water is sanitized and re-used.
The unit is self-contained, which means the water is too.
"That way the client doesn't have water all over the parking lot," Friesen said.
This particular client, Central Market in Detroit Lakes, hired Kart Kleen Wash to sanitize all 350 of its carts.
"It's so important in this day in age to keep everything very clean," said Central Market General Manager Dan Neumeister.
"We'll not only be having them do our other stores in Bismarck and Mandan, but we're also going to have them do anything we have in the store that's stainless steel -- meat racks, bakery racks..."
Neumeister says Central Market will have Kart Kleen Wash come in once or twice a year.
"Those little sanitizing hand-wipes are good for daily cleaning," said LeNoue, "but the rest of the cart is what is neglected the most."
But this washer isn't just for carts.
Specifications are already being added for cleaning hand baskets and medical supplies such as wheel chairs and walkers.
"Every time we're approached by people we haven't washed for or we go to a store and wash, they're requesting us to wash other types of products, so we're constantly making modifications so that we can do that," said Friesen.
The portable machine/trailer unit that washed Central Market's carts is already booked up for the year.
It is one of only two units in existence, but not for long.
Six more are being built at Friesen's manufacturing building on Richwood road in Detroit Lakes, and the plans don't stop there.
"This is just the beginning," said LeNoue.
"We're already going into five more states this summer, so our plan is to service the whole United States."
And while mentioning the word "global" gets LeNoue and Friesen a tad squirmy, the idea isn't off the radar.
"We have some national firms who have some bigger plans for us," said LeNoue.
To learn more about the machine or to contact company employees, log on to www.kartkleen.com