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Latest United Safety acquisition allows for cleaner air on buses and coaches

United Safety is using its seventh acquisition in Australia to expand its capabilities in the HVAC and air quality markets for buses and coaches

Since expanding its presence in Australia, United Safety & Survivability Australia has dabbled in many bus and coach markets. Whether it be fire mitigation, seating or child safety, United Safety has provided a range of health and safety products to the local industry.

Yet its latest growth is all about its trusted air purification and filtration capabilities.

“Alongside our well known Active Air purification system, we recently expanded our solutions by becoming the national distributor of Sy-Klone filtration pressurisers,” United Safety National Executive Sales Manager Matthew Jarrett told ABC.

This latest expansion started at the end of July this year when United Safety confirmed it was acquiring Western Australian-based family company Lyons Air. The auto electrical and air-conditioning company has since given United Safety more opportunities in the air-conditioning and filtration game, as the global safety company has now secured a national dealer agreement for Lyons’ Sy-Klone products.

“About 18 months ago I started looking and researching products such as Sy-Klone Pressurisers with a HEPA filtration system,” Jarrett says.

“On the other side, our CEO was looking at acquiring Lyons Air and had already secured a dealer agreement for Sy-Klone in WA alone.

“We worked out that we could push for the national dealer agreement in the acquisition approach. It worked out great – it gives us a national reach to deal, distribute, support, maintain and install the Sy-Klone product for our business.”

The new addition is a technically advanced product that is enhancing United Safety’s Clean Air offerings. After sucking in fresh air into the fan, the filter creates a cyclonic effect, pushing all larger items such as dust or particles to the outside.

Much like its namesake, Sy-Klone filters then removes these larger particles, leaving the cleanest air right in the middle to continually produce fresh air for a cabin or internal environment. Alongside pressurising the cabin, Sy-Klone is United Safety’s newest innovative product it’s providing to the market.

“Our level of filtration on the Sy-Klone range is HEPA, which means it’s a high grade of purification,” United Safety national transport business development manager Mick Hall told ABC.

“When people talk about filtration, they only know DEPA. The requirement for the standard is HEPA grade, and we meet this in our products.”

United Safety has already hit the ground running following this acquisition and new dealer agreement, installing some Sy-Klone filter products onto smaller buses in Western Australia’s mining region.

Alongside the addition of Sy-Klone, the Lyons’ acquisition has also allowed United Safety to offer some air-conditioning products.

“Lyons Air is a well-respected HVAC company within WA holding various contracts and key relationships with transport operators, so it’s been very valuable for us to become involved with them,” Jarrett says.

Expansion out west means United Safety is also the service agent for all BCI buses in WA, as well as for Denso and Hispacold in the state.

These extra responsibilities now combine with United Safety’s existing Active Air purification product, which has been a hallmark of the brand’s suite of systems.

This side of United Safety’s business gained more focus in 2020 when the COVID pandemic took over Australia’s bus and coach industry, limiting services severely. Following this sudden change, United Safety set a goal to increase ridership once restrictions lifted and public transport returned.

“We’ve been part of the bus industry for the best part of 15 years and we’re here for the long term, so we want to support operators around Australia to increase passenger numbers on buses,” Hall says.

“We want to keep passengers and drivers safe from commuter sickness syndrome. Transport for NSW tells us that people aren’t returning to buses post-COVID as much, so we see that there is now an opportunity for transport to increase ridership.”

Active Air immediately became a key way of encouraging riders to return to bus services across Australia. When installed on a vehicle, it quickly became a failsafe way of limiting COVID-19 transmission on buses and coaches as well as improving the passenger experience.

Historically, Active Air has been a successful reverse engineered purification system that targets airborne and surface viruses by purifying the air and surfaces inside a bus.

The active purification system starts by using water molecules in the air. When these molecules pass over Active Air’s catalyst system, they’re transformed into hydrogen peroxides that are distributed throughout the air-conditioning vents to fight airborne viruses.

“As the millions of these peroxides float around, they land on surfaces and decontaminate both the surfaces and the air,” Jarrett says.

“It protects passengers and drivers from pathogens and airborne viruses, as well as contaminated surfaces.”

This system first had global impacts. In the US, more than 30,000 Active Air systems were installed on buses. In Australia, United Safety quickly installed three in Tasmania and four in Queensland, while it’s continuing to engage with potential universities about studying the effectiveness of the technology.

In Tasmania, Tassielink Transit was the first urban operator to use Active Air systems onboard their buses, while Fun Over Fifty Tours in Queensland became the first coach tour operator to take up the technology in Australia.

Outside of buses and coaches, Active Air has also been installed in truck cabins and fire engine areas, as well as inside buildings. To prove the system’s reliability, United Safety installed one of the HVAC systems within its own building in the Hunter Valley.

“Next year this system will also be on TfNSW’s Panel 4 as an option for bus and coach operators to use,” Hall says.

“While other HEPA filters can detract from the performance of an air-conditioning system, we think Active Air is a better option as it doesn’t detract from the performance of a HVAC system.

“Active Air is located in the return ducts of the bus, so it’s different and unique.”

In United Safety’s push for safer public transport, it’s also considering the little things. While Active Air was reverse engineered to limit airborne viruses and surface pathogens within spaces, a key part of its mission to increase ridership back on transport was to remove odours and make buses and coaches more enjoyable for passengers.

Whether it be the smell of body odour or urine, Active Air is designed to remove this smell using cleaning agents to encourage more passengers to hop onboard public transport.

It’s this thinking that is allowing United Safety to expand in the air-conditioning and filtration space at a faster rate than ever before.

“We don’t market enough in transport the need to have a clean smell and space onboard vehicles,” Hall says.

“Active Air, through its hydrogen peroxides in the air, produces a clean smell. We think this is critical to facilitating a safer and more comfortable bus and coach industry that encourages passengers to return post-COVID.”

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