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Temperature-Screening Technologies

By Michael Harris

July 15, 2020

In the summer of 1999, I had the opportunity to work in a General Motors facility as an electrical engineering intern for Electronic Data Systems. Back then, it was common for a large manufacturing facility to have a full-time nurse on staff to treat injuries, administer new hire drug tests, educate employees, and help lower worker’s compensation insurance premiums. As time went on, businesses looked for new ways to cut costs; the corporate nurse became a thing of the past.

Under the “new normal,” I have personally been to a few different locations in the Midwest that have implemented some level of temperature screening for employees, visitors, and contractors. The only thing that these companies have in common is that they all have dedicated an existing employee as the de facto corporate nurse.

Why do we take temperature on the forehead? The reason is because it is the most accessible and accurate place. Other places to take temperature, in order of the most accurate to least, would be the ear, mouth, and then armpit.

With no end in sight, the pandemic will continue to absorb human resources to administer temperature checks every day. One such facility in the Chicagoland area has a dedicated employee stationed at the time clock for three hours at each shift change with a handheld FDA-certified medical-grade instant digital thermometer. These can be expensed at a price point of $80–$200. They are easy to read and easy to use, and tests are noncontact. The drawback is that you tie up human resources as a dedicated “trigger finger” to administer the tests.

On a two-shift operation, assuming a $60/hour fully loaded rate, this cost is annualized at $93,600. Sure, you could bring in a temp service to administer the tests, but do you really want to put the well-being of your workforce into the hands of a temporary employee?

There is some technology out there to help automate this process from PopID, a fever-detection and facial-recognition camera service. The intent of this device is to create a self-policing system for the employee to make the right decision. The system is easy to use. Users upload their photo to the PopID database cloud. Their face becomes a “digital token” across the PopID platform. Any time you present your likeness in front of the scanner, the system creates a time stamp, employee name, and temperature reading. The data is stored into a historical log for employer access. The employer has the choice to check employee compliance or delete the data. This type of system is available at a cost of around $3,000 and has been implemented by fast-food chains such as Subway and Taco Bell.

Another technology is from Thermoteknix, and it has received some attention lately with its recent rollout at Tyson Foods. According to Richard Hames, sales director at Thermoteknix, this technology has been available since 2003 and is typically used for employers with 200-plus employees. The FeverID is a skin temperature measurement system designed for mass screening of high- traffic pedestrian areas such as public transportation and factories. The portable FevIR Scan Fever Screening System combines thermal and color visual- imaging cameras, working in conjunction with a blackbody temperature calibration unit. The blackbody emits a constant temperature that gives this system extremely high accuracy at ±0.2 degrees Celsius. The system can handle multiple personnel at once. Additionally, the software can be set up with high-temperature alarms and has dynamic event-recording that can capture video for up to 10 seconds before and after an alarm. The software and hardware can be sourced for around $19,000–$23,000.

Due to environmental and physiological factors, human skin temperatures may not be an accurate reflection of internal core body temperatures. Raised skin temperatures can occur in the absence of a fever. Additionally, humans not presenting a fever can still spread illness if they are asymptomatic carriers of any disease.

To conclude, the three different systems offer you a good-better-best approach for temperature screening your workforce to fit your needs. If you need any additional information to help decide which is best for your facility, my contact information is below.

Portrait of Michael HarrisMichael Harris is president of KPI Incorporated. He can be reached at 317-797-9898 or”