In late March, as the potential impact of the Covid19 crisis became apparent, two Highland based innovation companies 4c Engineering and Aseptium contacted their local hospital to see if they could apply their engineering and innovation skills/equipment/personnel to meet any of the anticipated needs.
Urgent demand, urgent response
From this offer, the requirement for face shields/visors was identified, and in collaboration with the Intensive Care team the Corran visor was rapidly developed – from concept to prototype in just one week. This drew in several local companies, and with the support of HIE, Inverness Chamber of Commerce and the local business community, an assembly line was set up at LifeScan making significant volumes (~7,500) of the Corran I visor. This was a fairly labour intensive design which relied on the very generous provision of volunteer labour by LifeScan, and was produced as a not-for-profit item. It was made from materials readily available in lockdown to produce a simple, standardised design. This made the designers realise this first release of the Corran visor was not an end result, but had the possibility of being the first iteration of a product.
While very urgent initial demand was met with the interim Corran I product, the team learned quite a few lessons on the design side. This, coupled with users’ feedback including pointers from the ICU team, gave them grounds to develop a completely new commercial product – the Corran II.
The first one was good, the second one is even better
In a great example of circular economy, the visor screens are punched out from roll-end material that would otherwise be going into the waste stream at another Highland business. This material has excellent transparency and anti-fog properties – the designers believe it is as close as you can get to a “no-visor” feel while still having full protection.
An early version of this new visor was demonstrated to some ICU members, giving positive feedback which gave the team confidence to put the design through CE marking. This is a rigorous process where an external body (in this case, SATRA Technology) puts the visor through a range of tests on the protection provided, and also examines the accompanying technical file. A CE mark has now been awarded, which is a major milestone, and allows the product to be sold on the open market.
Commenting on the project, Andy Hall, Director of 4c Engineering said:
“The Corran II visor is the result of engaging with and listening to frontline workers then tailoring a design to meet their demands. We balanced the need to produce a safe product with the desire to minimise weight and simplify the design. I’m proud of the improvements the team made in just a matter of weeks and achieving a CE mark shows our design is fundamentally safe.”
Commenting on the project, Peter MacDonald, Director of 4c Engineering said:
“We have been able to take the lessons learned in those first few frantically busy weeks, and combine that with the user feedback, and innovative thinking in a matter of weeks to develop and certify a brand new product which we believe is the most comfortable user-friendly visor on the market.”
Pawel de Sternberg Stojalowski of Aseptium added:
“Corran II proves that even PPE can be designed for comfort. Rapid development is a great adventure, and being able to perfect your design in cooperation with local suppliers is a great pleasure, especially when it results in our best product in this category to date. Andy Hall, director of 4c Engineering, has been working on the CE mark process and his success is further proof of what good design engineering can achieve.”
Jenny Allen, of 4c Engineering who manages the production process echoed this:
“Along with the rest of the country, we have been hugely grateful to all the doctors, nurses, care home staff, and other workers who have been on the front line during the pandemic. We’re delighted to have been able to support them by providing PPE to keep them safe.”
Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce added:
‘The team at 4c Engineering have done an incredible job of innovating an initial product design and taking it to a new, scalable level in the space of a few weeks. Focused on the client needs and collaborating with local businesses, 4c Engineering have demonstrated the strength and innovation that exists within the Highland business community. This bodes well for our region as we look towards exiting from the impact of the current global pandemic and seize the opportunities that will exist through collaboration, innovation and hard work!’
Anna Salgado, Technical Director – Supply Chain of LifeScan commented:
“LifeScan have been delighted to support this project, first through the assembly process and now by providing material left over from our manufacturing process for visor production. The material left over is typically disposed of via the plastic recycling route but it is a great example of the circular economy in action to be able to re-purpose this material for Corran visors.”