Rising to the challenge (part 1): How the tech and manufacturing sector responded to the biggest call in the face of COVID-19

In this two-part series, we speak to tech and manufacturing business owner, Anmol Sood, about the new demands COVID-19 created in the tech sector and how his businesses are helping tackle the biggest global health crisis in recent history.

Rising to the challenge (part 1): How the tech and manufacturing sector responded to the biggest call in the face of COVID-19

Anmol, technology has never played such an important role in how we live and operate. Your businesses, Jaltek, Equivital and Wavesight work to deliver cutting edge technology in a range of sectors such as clean energy, medical and defence as well as aerospace. Tell us about your businesses and the impact of COVID-19.

About our businesses

  • Jaltek Systems Ltd – Looks at the design and manufacture of high end, complex technology products and systems for customers in the defence, civil aviation & industrial sector. With defence, aviation & medical approvals in place, the range of products that are being manufactured is extremely diverse, which was important in navigating through the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Equivital – Here we design wearable technology solutions for professional organisations around the world including global militaries, first responders, clinical research and industrial customers. With existing FDA and intrinsic safety approvals in place, our current product range includes clinical grade wearable sensors to collect & aggregate human, environmental & geo-location data as well as mobile and web applications to view data in real time. We have also developed proximity monitoring solutions, initially used for social distancing purposes with data available for contact tracing, soon to be used for proximity monitoring between workers and potentially dangerous plant and machinery.
  • Wavesight – this business specialises in the supply of critical wireless infrastructure where we supply wireless infrastructure products and services such as radios to transmit video, voice & data, ruggedized communications products and solar power solutions, delivering low-cost power around the world.

Our businesses are focussed on delivering technology related solutions for our clients. From a manufacturing perspective, companies who have medical approvals are definitely seeing a rise in demand and interest, but one of the biggest challenges facing the whole industry is the lack of availability of components, globally. It is difficult to know when this supply chain is going to open back up fully, but we can definitely see the signs of recovery already.

Our Jaltek factory has remained open throughout the pandemic with our amazing team going into work every day in order to meet deadlines. We saw a strong financial performance between April and June and continue to see growth in the next quarter. Even during these times, we have seen that our services have remained in high demand.

Jaltek was asked to manufacture critical medical equipment for COVID-19. Can you tell us more?

We have long standing relationships with some large UK companies who when the government put out a request for help in supplying ventilators, were more than keen to help.

Thanks to our existing approvals, we were actually contacted by four different groups and consortiums. It was amazing to see how quickly these companies were able to produce and finalise designs for critical medical equipment, such as ventilators, and we were honoured to play a part in that.

Fortunately, the National Health Service (NHS) was able to cope with the demand for ventilators without further support from the private sector. The designs that we helped to prototype are now being transitioned to other countries, where the demand for ventilators remains high.

The UK Government also asked for your help in producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the NHS and social distancing tags?

Our business, Equivital, produces FDA approved wearable technology for researchers, the military, first responders, as well as industrial companies. We came up with four clear strategies for how our products, services and experience could help:

1. Our research products are being used to assist with research groups globally who are trying to better understand the virus and look at potential vaccines and treatments for it. Our clinical grade wearable technology means that data can be collected from a wide cohort of subjects who are potentially in different locations and can send that data back to the researcher. We are also allowing multiple groups, who are building home healthcare monitoring platforms, to integrate our sensors into their platform.

2. Our Blackghost application that is already being used to provide safety and performance monitoring for military, first responders and industrial personnel has been adapted. As well as physiological and geolocation data, we can take spot measurements for temperature and SPO2. SpO2 is also known as oxygen saturation and is a measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood relative to the amount of haemoglobin not carrying oxygen. The body needs there to be a certain level of oxygen in the blood or it will not function as efficiently. If the data points measuring this are below certain thresholds, steps can be taken to limit risk within the overall workforce. As many first responders are wearing PPE during the pandemic, our wearable technology is providing valuable data to ensure they do not keep working past a safe point, measuring fatigue and heat stress.

3. Being able to adapt and pivot, we prioritised the development of our latest product that is a small device worn by individuals. If two or more individuals, who are both wearing the device, come within 2 meters / 6 feet of each other (distance is configurable by organisation), an alert will be triggered with a visual and vibrating indication until the wearers move to a safe distance. This device means organisations can start bringing employees back to work, in office, retail, warehouse, construction and other such settings, safely. As data from these devices can be stored and downloaded, further analytics can be obtained, such as contact tracing, heat maps, hot spots amongst others meaning a whole organisation does not need to isolate in case of an individual diagnosis.

4. We've designed and commercialised FDA approved products - we were approached by some of our existing customers to source various forms of PPE that are so sought after globally. We have now built up an entire supply chain that is able to provide a range of PPE (masks, gloves, gowns etc.) to customers in the UK and globally.

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