Spacesaver Equipment Management

Equipment Management: Armed Awareness

Though obsessing over the negative effects of the pandemic appeals to one’s baser instincts, a silver lining has begun to shine through. Coaches and equipment managers are — out of necessity — beginning to think outside the box, and the resulting awareness about the options available to them will have a lasting positive impact.

Jordan James is an account manager for Enhance Mats, an Atlanta-based supplier that specializes in creating dynamic flooring solutions for athletic programs. He describes his job as helping people craft an idea of what it is they’re looking to do, even when they don’t know if what they want is even possible.

One of the ways James has seen customers evolve in their thinking over the span of the pandemic relates directly to preventing virus spread through surface contact. The word “antimicrobial” was likely not in the average coach’s vocabulary in 2019.

“It just wasn’t something that was on people’s radar,” he says. “They ask, ‘Oh, it’s a mat cover?’ They want their logo. They want the specifics of size and color. But even now when those logos, sizes and colors are still key, they are also asking, ‘Is there an antimicrobial option?’”

With COVID-19 factoring into every purchasing and budget conversation for the last eight months, coaches and equipment managers are creating a safer environment, but they are also learning about creative, efficient options that offer invaluable benefit whether there’s an immediate viral threat or not.

From Field To Facility

While the field at most programs is normally outdoors — which helps tremendously in the fight against the coronavirus — there are upgrades that can be done to not only protect the athletes, but also the investment schools make in their athletic department’s crown jewel.

Enhance Mats produces Track Armor running track and football sideline covers which offer an antimicrobial benefit. In addition to this added protection for athletes, the covers also protect what tends to be a significant investment.

“They spend a lot of money on it,” James says. “Then they get a bunch of players in soccer and football who run across it with cleats and they realize, ‘Oh, that needed to be protected didn’t it? Ouch.’ And those costs add up quite a bit.”

A wider variety of benefits can be found indoors. Trent Chesnut, the head equipment manager for the University of Illinois football, has taken steps to ensure the Fighting Illini are taking advantage of modern sanitation technology the moment they come off the field. Illinois employs a ZONO Disinfecting And Sanitizing Cabinet, a machine that makes short work of cleaning large batches of items that may otherwise prove difficult to sanitize quickly and efficiently. Cris Williams, a sales representative with ZONO Technologies, compares how the ZONO works to throwing items into a washing machine.

“[The ZONO] allows you to load all your stuff up on carts, wherever it is. Then you roll them into the machine, close the doors, and the ZONO takes ambient air, just breathable air, and changes it into highly concentrated ozone,” he says. “It’s going to go through a 30-minute ozone cycle, 15 minutes of high concentration. Ozone is going to kill every germ and bacteria on all the surfaces, even viruses. Anything that’s organic will not be organic when you bring it out. It’s not going to be living.”

According to Williams, the machine has a footprint of about five feet by five feet and stands about eight feet tall. Chesnut refers to the machine as a “godsend” and has positioned it in the first room the players enter when they come into the facility.

“We call it the mud room where guys can cut their tape off and knock and get your cleats off before you proceed into the locker room,” Chesnut says. “That’s where it sits for us. It’s not like guys just come in and just put stuff in it. They always take the shoulder pads, cleats and helmets, everything back to the locker and then we’ll use it.”

Locking Down The Locker Room

When the players enter the locker room, more opportunity awaits. “Locker rooms are a major aspect, locker rooms and gymnasium areas,” James says. “And they’re really concerned about the spread of the virus there. And they all talk about [locker room surfaces being] antimicrobial.”

One company that is tackling the challenge of offering antimicrobial locker room solutions is The Athletic Edge by Pivotal Health Solutions, a supplier of custom, premium quality lockers for high school, college and professional teams.

“To ensure locker room safety, we are researching, testing and implementing antimicrobial and antibacterial construction materials and surface treatments,” says Tyler Brinka, a sales manager at The Athletic Edge. “Customers tend to move away from natural material choices if they are concerned about surface cleaning a more porous material.

“We offer lockers made from material that meets or exceeds infection control guidelines for cleanliness, safety and durability.”

The Athletic Edge is also exploring sanitation systems for each locker, bank of lockers or the entire locker room. They’ve taken steps to include social distancing measures and privacy panels between lockers for an easy-to-clean layer of protection for players. Beyond the physical surfaces and sanitation, there are also options that hit coronavirus where it hurts — in the air.

“That’s where the Puradigm system comes in,” says James. “It just basically fills a need that most people didn’t even know they’d had until just recently.” The Puradigm is a proactive, automated air and surface sanitation system that runs 24/7 and is scalable to protect single rooms or entire facilities.

Closing The Loop On Laundry

One of the best lines of defense against COVID-19 is proper, repeated laundering of all player uniforms, jocks, socks and towels. Peggy Durney served as an athletic equipment manager for over two decades, before co-founding Laundry Loops with her husband Mike.

“I know a few equipment managers were quite reluctant to become exposed to the locker room environment, because of their own health concerns,” she says. “But most equipment managers tell me they have been impressed by the protocols put into place.”

The Durneys’ solution is simple, but brilliant. The patented Laundry Loop keeps individualized bundles of laundry together so that everything stays separate and easy to organize without the equipment staff needing to log countless hours of extra work. Those extra hours in the laundry facility could be spent handling unsanitary surfaces or breathing virus-contaminated air — so, every minute saved counts.

“We at Laundry Loops are pleased to know that our concept, years ago, has transformed athletic laundry — resulting in cleaner, more sanitized practice and gameday apparel while saving hours of time in the laundry room each day,” Durney says.

Safekeeping

The more dirty equipment and laundry that changes hands, the higher the risk of viral transmission. Spacesaver helps reduce this risk by making the process of cleaning, organizing and storing equipment and uniforms safer and more efficient.

“Coaches feel there’s a benefit to our equipment storage because it’s organized, it promotes social distancing and it keeps the player equipment separate,” Spacesaver President and CEO Mark Haubenschild says. As a high school coach and AFCA member himself, he understands first-hand the challenges coaches are facing.

Haubenschild says his team opted out of the fall season in hopes of playing in the spring. On top of that disappointment, the program spent several thousand

dollars on cleaning and sanitation supplies alone. This extra equipment places even more strain on storage, in addition to the capacity issues caused by extra practice jerseys and PPE to ensure players are using clean gear on a daily basis.

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“If they are constantly having to go into the equipment room and interact with the equipment managers, or if you are having to spread out a hundred players just to get their equipment, that’s creating a logistical nightmare,” Spacesaver Sales Manager Zachary Hermans says. “The ability to have the equipment organized and stored efficiently has always been important, but even more so now.”

Spacesaver has been offering antimicrobial paint on their products for years, and have also developed pass-through lockers. These lockers enable athletes to put equipment in one side and the staff to grab it from the other side at their convenience — much like one would retrieve mail from a post office box. Spacesaver’s high-density mobile storage units keep athletes out of the equipment room and limits unnecessary clustering of personnel. Additionally, they have developed touchless interfaces for these systems, including a Bluetooth system that allows coaches to operate the shelving units from an app on their phone.

“Is this the silver bullet that makes it all stop? No. By no means,” Hermans says of the touchless options they offer. “But it’s one more thing that checks the box in protocols that helps keep everyone safe.”

This article was written by Adam Reed, editor of AFCA Magazine.

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SPACESAVER: A GAME-CHANGER IN FOOTBALL EQUIPMENT STORAGE

Spacesaver

When you’re building a football program, you want your focus to be on developing athletes, not on digging for equipment, uniforms, and supplies. No matter what your team’s current storage situation is like, Spacesaver can help you get your equipment organized and protected – without breaking your budget.

Get a FREE space assessment and see what’s possible. Visit http://www.spacesaver.com.

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