BRAIN Forum 2021

Brain Forum 2021: The future & digital hand hygiene.

Innovation, information, and interaction—these topics marked our annual networking event, the BRAIN Forum. As always, the spotlight was on what is new in the world hand hygiene. Since 2016, OPHARDT Hygiene has been inviting partners, friends, and customers to provide space to learn about the trends in industry and science.   

Due to the increasingly spread of the Delta variant, the event took place virtually—as it did last year—for the safety and protection of the participants. Peter de Koning, marketing specialist at OPHARDT, guided participants through the day’s agenda. One highlight followed another, from insights into the company to an overview of our latest hand hygiene technologies. The Forum culminated with TED Talk-alumni Dr. Henning Beck who gave us insights into the field of artificial intelligence.

A year marked by the pandemic

Heiner Ophardt provided an overview of how the pandemic has affected society. Just one year ago, people could only protect themselves from the coronavirus with the help of distance, masks, and hand disinfection. Today, various vaccines are on the market and are being administered on a large scale in countries with access to them.

The role of science in the rapid development of these vaccines has been lauded. But what will happen in the future? In order to prevent infectious diseases, digital hand hygiene will be key. With OPHARDT retrofits, existing dispensers can be converted into a smart product within two minutes. Beyond hand hygiene, Heiner took a look at the transformations taking place in the workplace. Remote work and e-learning have experienced an enormous upswing in the past year. In face of the resilience and creativity of people during the pandemic, Heiner Ophardt emphasized that optimism is a key to success right now.

Following Heiner’s talk, we shared the news that OPHARDT recently won the “Brand of the Century” award in Germany, an honour reserved for companies that are synonymous with their product category.

Then, Ken Friesen, a member of the OPHARDT Executive Team, provided an overview of the many OPHARDT products that were launched this past year. Here, our focus continues to be on providing smart and sustainable solutions. For example, Zollern Alb Klinikum already installed a digital hygiene solution with the help of OPHARDT products. Now, doctors and nurses receive direct feedback after proper hand sanitization thanks to the Ingo-man® SmartNose.

Like our focus on smart technology, sustainability is vital for us at OPHARDT. Having made the commitment to become climate-neutral by 2045, we outlined the steps we’re taking to making our pumps more sustainable.

One of the changes that occurred during the pandemic is that other industries are beginning to adopt healthcare-level hand hygiene compliance. With the OWMS software and the SanTRAL® Plus or KX Smart series, public washrooms are now also smart-ready. This makes facility management easier than ever before.

BRAIN Forum 2021

New hand hygiene habits

Dr. Siegfried “Siggie“ Steltenkamp, who works in OPHARDT’s New Technologies division, provided a scientific overview of what is new in the field of hand hygiene and sustainability. He gave a brief overview of many studies published this past year. This included research that showed that coronaviruses survive significantly longer on our hands than influenza viruses. Siggie also shared that researchers in India found that hand hygiene is the most efficient and sustainable method to reduce infectious diseases.

Perhaps most hopeful, though, is that COVID-19 has helped people create new habits. Eighty-percent of people have a daily hand washing routine. Now it’s our job to take this further, not only as an effective measure to combat COVID-19, but also to suppress other infectious diseases such as influenza. Hand hygiene needs to be implemented globally, because it is the most cost-effective and sustainable way to fight disease.

Keynote address: artificial intelligence vs. the human brain

A highlight of this year’s Brain Forum was the presentation by Dr. Henning Beck. The neuroscientist, biochemist and German Science Slam champion is convinced that to be truly useful, artificial intelligence still requires human intelligence. He argues this because the human brain is capable of deeper forms of synthesis; computers, on the other hand, analyze and optimize the data it receives.

Only human thinking stimulates us to develop ideas and combine information; no computer can think as conceptually as our brain. The way forward is clear. Only with human know-how, cross-industry collaboration, and not shying away from mistakes, will ideas be generated and implemented successfully. Artificial intelligence supports many situations and simplifies workflows, but the uniqueness of human thinking has not been replaced. 

We are already looking forward to the Brain Forum 2022 and hope to welcome you again to Issum, as Heiner said, hopefully face-to-face, with a drink in our hands.


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