IES are delighted to be involved in a new European Horizon 2020 (H2020) project aimed at innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to COVID-19.
The imPURE project (Injection Moulding Repurposing for Medical Supplies Enabled by Additive Manufacturing), officially launched in December 2020, has been awarded ~€7 million of H2020 funding with the aim of repurposing injection moulding lines with interchangeable cavity plates, in order to meet the urgent needs of our societies for vital medical supplies and equipment.
The modern world is fast-evolving, interconnected and highly mobile, presenting significant challenges in harmonising risk mitigation measures against emerging biological hazards. The delay in imposing risk mitigation measures is crucial and can make the difference between a local outbreak of a disease with few cases and its evolution to a pandemic with countless sick and deceased citizens, as severely demonstrated by the recent outbreak of COVID-19.
The pandemic has highlighted that shortages and other gaps in the global medical supply chain represent a mismatch of supply and demand when supply is low and/or demand is high for particular items. With healthcare workers and other first responders feeling the impact of supply chains disrupted by unprecedented challenges, many large and small businesses external to the traditional healthcare procurement system are reconfiguring their procedures to mass production of critical medical consumables. In order to address supply shortages, particularly in medical supplies and protective equipment, some countries have employed less traditional instruments.
Against this backdrop, the imPURE project will focus on the development of modular moulds for the repurposing of injection moulding lines. Numerical modelling, process and mould design optimisation will be also considered, together with cloud manufacturing and automation technologies.
For its part, IES will make its iSCAN for manufacturing platform available to handle data collected from the production lines via MQTT communication. The time-series data output by digital twins and machine learning algorithms will also be uploaded in the platform via API. This will allow remote virtual manufacturing monitoring, to support troubleshooting during production.
IES will design a Command Centre for each pilot to visualise the data from the line and other sources connected to iSCAN, such as models developed by partners for forecasting (e.g. demand growth, production output, etc.) or simulated/optimised production data/setpoints; and the results of analytics carried out on this data, such as to raise alarms when thresholds are hit. The Command Centre will display the data through colour-coded graphs and KPI cards to provide the main information needed by pilot line managers to decide how to act and transform their production.
The project, which will last for 18 months, is coordinated by Prof. Costas A. Charitidis, director of R-NanoLab, part of the School of Chemical Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens, and is made up of a complementary consortium spanning 4 industries, 5 research institutes, 9 SMEs and 1 hospital.
IES R&D Project Manager, Giulia Barbano, comments: “We are very excited to be involved in the imPURE project, which will play an important role in shaping the manufacturing response to global health emergencies, such as COVID-19. The project presents a unique opportunity to continue to leverage and further develop the application of our iSCAN platform to address the needs of communities globally.”