Hi-tech answers to old problems

Rentokil Experts
Rentokil experts in (clockwise) Germany, Spain and Barbados ensure the eradication of unwanted pests which constantly threaten public health

Rentokil on a winning streak as awards are won on second consecutive year

Queen’s Award for Innovation

By Mike Cowley

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If there’s one way for a company to cap winning the prestigious Queen’s Award for International Trade, it is to win The Queen’s Award for Innovation the following year.

That’s exactly what Rentokil Initial has done in 2018.

And as its initial award success in international sales was built on its leadership in digital and innovation, it is hardly surprising that it has now done the double. For Rentokil Initial is nothing if it is not innovative in its approach in ridding unwanted pests – from flies to rodents – which constantly threaten public health by invading the food chain.

The Rentokil innovation story started back in the 1920s when Harold Max-well-Leroy, Professor of Entomology at Imperial College, London, was called in by the UK Government to find a solution to control death watch beetles which were munching their way through the roof beams in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament.

Having come up with a compound that stopped the beetles in their tracks – so saving the historic building – the Professor, the first ever such appoint-mint in his discipline, suddenly found his services in demand from buildings such as churches all over the country which were also under threat from the same species of wood chewers.

Today Rentokil is a name of which few people in the UK will not have heard and it has become the global leader in a market worth $18 billion. And it is still battling with a range of pests of all types using both cutting edge science and technology to support its mission statement with its focus on Protecting People and Enhancing Lives.

The company’s Power Centre – its science, innovation and training hub based nearly Crawley – has been responsible for a flow of breakthrough innovations which has ensured that Rentokil remains the pacesetter in its sector. And these include the world’s smartest mousetrap. The Rentokil RADAR (Rodent Activated, Detection and Riddance) device is a revolutionary mouse trap that features a unique combination of infra-red technology and CO2.

Once a mouse enters the unit, it breaks an infra-red beam, the circular doors close on the unit and the chamber is quickly filled with CO2 to despatch the mouse.

Rentokil is the only company to be registered for use of CO2 in rodent con-troll in Europe while RADAR has been recognised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as being a humane catch and kill method. RADAR offers a further benefit to the environment in that it is the only trap to capture, kill and contain all in one mechanism which means the risk of secondary infestations and risk to health is minimized i.e. the cadaver doesn’t attract flies.

With RADAR up and running, the next breakthrough was to harness the Internet. Reconnect is Rentokil’s innovative ‘Internet of Things’ pest control system bringing together multiple RADAR units, smartphone messaging, online reporting, Google cloud storage and data analysis. The units are automatically linked through the mobile network to a central online Command Centre which maps and monitors rodent activity via the connected RADAR units in the field from the customer floorplan up to country level. This enables the monitoring of trends.

An employee viewing the command centre in the UK was able to contact a customer in the Netherlands (a supermarket) and inform them that they had a mouse problem in their food store room before they knew it. To date Rentokil has received over 30 million messages from its RADAR units in the field which have now been linked to a new customer portal, called Rentokil which features customer site plans for the customer to view online providing 24/7 real-time information.

Rentokil hopes to extend this technology to other pest areas and to be able to introduce predictive analysis (i.e. mapping the patterns of pest behaviour to weather patterns). RADAR sales have reached 250,000 units and there are 60,000 Reconnect Internet-of-things systems in the field. The connected RADAR product and command centre was the winner of the 2016 ‘Best Internet of Things’ innovation at the UK IT Awards.

Innovations to protect people

Rentokil’s team of scientists are waging war against pests with a constant flow of solutions in the patent pipeline including several to tackle the international issue of bed bugs.

Last year saw applications for 10 international patent and 24 European with applications granted in both Singapore and Europe for Bed Bug monitor.

Rentokil Scientist
Rentokil’s scientists go to war with pests

One of latest products to make it to market is Rapidpro which has been developed to tackle mice who have built up a resistance to traditional rodenticide. The treatment is believed to be one of the most effective on the market to date, combining a newly formulated, faster-acting rodenticide – killing mice with a single feed – with a fat base that rodents find irresistible.

Traditionally infestations have been challenging to control because a mouse can take a bite of food from up to 70 different sources in 24 hours. Rentokil’s new solution is promising to break a mouse’s traditional eating habits and rid premises of infestations more effectively with just one portion.

Flies are also in the firing line at Rentokil with Lumia Insect Control Unit not only offering a significantly improved method of control but also offering 61% reduction in energy savings over competitor products. Developed with innovative, patented LED technology, Lumia is designed to attract, kill and encapsulate flying insects hygienically. Fruit flies, drain flies, blow flies and the ever-present house flies are attracted to food odours from kitchens and food preparation areas. They can pick up and transport contaminated filth on their bodies spreading pathogens such as Salmonella, Cryptosporidium and E. coli quickly contaminating clean surfaces and food.