MANNING, S.C. (AP) — COVID-19 has had a negative effect on many across the country, but one manufacturer saw it as an opportunity to partner with a software company and create an innovative way to stay in business while adapting to the new normal.

Advanta Southeast, a metal fabrication manufacturing company in Manning, teamed up with Verifyii, a software company in Greenville, to create a kiosk that can detect a person’s body temperature before entering a facility or workplace, reducing the risk of spreading the coronavirus and any other future illnesses.

The Verifyii Elevated Body Temperature Screening Platform is meant to eliminate wasteful labor costs on manual screening and data entry and is the best way to practice social distancing while checking a person’s temperature, company leaders say.

Verifyii co-founders Ben O’Hanlan and Brett Kraeling already had the product made into a kiosk with several different features available, but just before the pandemic began, they added the elevated body temperature feature. This specific feature piqued the interest of many different types of businesses across the country that were looking for ways to continue working through the coronavirus.

A person stands at the edge of the 5-foot-long kiosk next to a black body reference box, which was required by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to detect an accurate body temperature. Then, in a matter of less than 3 seconds, the kiosk will tell the person whether he or she passed the test on the screen.

O’Hanlan said the product keeps employers from having to hire a person to work a door, taking temperatures manually and putting themselves at risk. Plus, if someone does have a high temperature, the kiosk will notify human resources immediately so the situation can be handled in a safe, distant manner.

“The idea is that even after COVID-19, a bad flu season can be just as bad on a workforce,” O’Hanlan said. “We tried to design a system that’s flexible that can be adaptive and that can continue to have value to businesses even after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It’s a simple machine that can do more than it appears. It could even be used as a new time card format that any business’ human resources can adapt to, and an IT person wouldn’t have to worry about it because Verifyii can take care of any issue or updates right from Greenville, according to O’Hanlan.

“The systems have a cellular connection,” O’Hanlan said, “so once we get everything put together, we can see it, our software crew in Greenville. If we need to do any updates or make any changes to the system, we can do that. All the system needs is power.”

Though the idea was grand, both O’Hanlan and Kraeling needed to have a physical structure to make it come to life. That’s when they contacted Merle Grams, president of Advanta Southeast.

Kraeling and Grams have known each other for a long time, and Kraeling said he felt Grams was the right man for the job, especially because Grams was looking for something new to manufacture.

“Usually we’re more just metal fab. We typically build shipping racks and containers for different industries,” Grams said. “We were looking for other opportunities. Our other businesses slowed down considerably with the current conditions.”

To keep business moving, his employees working and alleviate some of the obstacles going on with COVID-19, Grams decided to take on something beyond metal fabrication.

“Right now, the need for people to feel safe is a big part of it,” Grams said. “This is something that’s going to be the new norm for the foreseeable future. We’re going to all be adapting to a different lifestyle moving forward, and I think this is one of those things that can make it an easier transition for consumers and employees and all different areas for allowing us to get back into some type of new norm.”

Once Advanta Southeast and Verifyii started working together, Grams got to designing the perfect platform for the kiosk. It took five hard revision designs until both companies were satisfied with the finished kiosk.

In the beginning of the building process, Grams said they were originally shipping the finished metal casings from Manning to Greenville and having Verifyii install the hardware, but as of this past week, Advanta Southeast will begin integrating the hardware.

“All of this stuff was being done in Greenville. We were just shipping them a blank metal case, and they were putting in all the power supplies,” Grams said.

On July 22, O’Hanlan and Kraeling traveled to Manning to teach Grams how to install the hardware. They put together nine of the machines that were being shipped to a cardboard manufacturing facility the next day.

Grams said this was the first time he ever put hardware into his metal casing creation, and he will continue to do so without the help of O’Hanlan or Kraeling from this point on.

“We don’t have the resources that Merle has on the manufacturing side. We just want to stay a software development company,” O’Hanlan said. “All the systems get built here, tested here and get shipped out of here to all our customers.”

Now, Advanta Southeast will be the sole manufacturer and distributor of the Verifyii Elevated Body Temperature Screening Platform.

“This is a big week for me personally,” O’Hanlan said. “Being able to bring all my stuff down here, my experience, and hand it off to Merle is exciting because it lets me get to the next phase of the business, knowing that this milestone is behind us. This is a significant milestone for us.”

O’Hanlan said the price of the platform is about $12,000 and requires a $99-per-unit monthly subscription to take care of software updates and other issues.

For more information about the Verifyii Elevated Body Temperature Screening Platform, visit www.verifyii.com.