Process industry firms are continuing to switch their attention to combating the Covid-19 crisis, with particular emphasis on tackling shortage of personal protective equipment for the NHS and care workers.
Among the most recent highlights are:
Members of Unite, GMB and Prospect unions at Sellafield in Cumbria, who launched the community fundraising campaign, revealed their £20,000 target had been hit by noon on Easter Sunday – and vowed to continue with a new aim of raising £30,000.
Forth Engineering, based in Barrow, has secured 6,000 masks and 6,000 gowns, through its Chinese sources to help keep nursing teams safe in West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, and across west Cumbria.
Managing director Mark Telford said: “As a business which operates all over the world from Cumbria we were just delighted to be able to use our business contacts in China to source this PPE.
“The 6,000 masks and 6,000 gowns we have managed to source are due to arrive in the next couple of days. It’s taking a bit longer than usual at the moment because so many flights have been grounded.”
Forth has already donated 1,000 latex gloves from its own stores and used its expertise and skills to invent a disinfecting robot to help in the fight against coronavirus, and is already receiving orders for the equipment.
“It can be used to sterilise ambulances, hospitals, shops and supermarkets, wherever it’s required. It works in a similar way to a vapour cigarette in that it fires high-pressure vapour which will settle in every part of a designated area,” explained Telford.
“It can also be used to disinfect factories and offices, schools and colleges, before people return to work and go back to education after the lockdown to make sure they are safe to use.”
Entrepreneur Matt McGahan, whose father Alan McGahan [pictured above] was recently a victim of Covid-19 has unveiled a new charity, Mask Our Heroes, to raise vital funds to get PPE equipment into the UK and be distributed to medical staff in the UK around 26 April.
McGahan and business partner Chris Cleverly will focus on procuring and supplying PPE for doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, frontline cleaners, porters and food service providers, with people invited to donate via a Go Fund Me page.
A team led by MIT researchers and including experts from many institutions is developing a system that augments “manual” contact tracing by public health officials, while preserving the privacy of all individuals. The system relies on short-range Bluetooth signals emitted from people’s smartphones. These signals represent random strings of numbers, likened to “chirps” that other nearby smartphones can remember hearing.
If a person tests positive, they can upload the list of chirps their phone has put out in the past 14 days to a database. Other people can then scan the database to see if any of those chirps match the ones picked up by their phones. If there’s a match, a notification will inform that person that they may have been exposed to the virus and will include information from public health authorities on next steps to take. Vitally, this entire process is done while maintaining the privacy of those who are Covid-19 positive and those wishing to check if they have been in contact with an infected person.
“I keep track of what I’ve broadcasted, and you keep track of what you’ve heard, and this will allow us to tell if someone was in close proximity to an infected person,” says Ron Rivest, MIT Institute professor and principal investigator of the project. “But for these broadcasts, we’re using cryptographic techniques to generate random, rotating numbers that are not just anonymous, but pseudonymous, constantly changing their ‘ID’, and that can’t be traced back to an individual.”
This approach to private, automated contact tracing will be available in a number of ways, including through the privacy-first effort launched at MIT in response to Covid-19 called SafePaths.
Optimal is providing an empty building monitoring service, free of charge, using its EMMA AI solution. This offer is being provided as a gesture of goodwill to help businesses control and reduce financial commitments so funds are not wasted on unnecessary utility consumption.
Optimal managing director Duncan Everett said: “Right now everyone is feeling the pain. Staff costs have been cut as best they can be. Buildings have been closed. The next thing is to make sure that empty premises aren’t using energy unnecessarily. With so many employees being furloughed, remote monitoring is crucial so companies have the real-time insight to act fast if faults or leaks occur in empty buildings. Now is the time to act.”
The first Romaco Noack blister machine for a pharmaceutical producer in southern China has now passed its virtual FAT, which was carried out via a live stream.
In the light of current travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Romaco is organising day-to-day operations in virtual space,carrying out FATs via a live stream or a video conferencing facility.
The first live remote virtual FAT followed the same procedure as its conventional counterpart, with all tests relevant to production and safety performed on the machine and streamed live.