The Covid Alliance has been nominated for the 2020 Engineers Ireland Engineering Excellence Awards. Established in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the COVID Alliance comprises of over 50 project partners from key Irish engineering and manufacturing sectors who came together to volunteer their services to the Health Service Executive (HSE). Design Partners’ team members took part in this fantastic initiative collaborating with companies from the engineering, design, and manufacturing sectors.
This informal grouping of organizations who provided services primarily on a pro bono basis was organised into a series of volunteer work streams, all of which were focused on meeting the needs of the crisis. With each project partner aligned to a workstream based on their specific capabilities, the Alliance’s expertise was central to the development of a number of healthcare supports and initiatives. Please vote now for the Covid Alliance Engineering Excellence Awards.
One critical concern was the HSE (Ireland’s national health body) struggled to source protective goggles and could not purchase anywhere near enough for their needs. The challenge was to turn ideas into reality and get PPE into our frontline workers’ hands quickly, so Design Partners set out to design, engineer, and find a manufacturing solution for protective goggles as part of the Covid Alliance initiative.
A collaboration with MeHow Medical Ireland was the key to unlock production and at breakneck speed we fulfilled the HSE’s request to design and produce goggles in Ireland, significantly reducing the need to source and import from abroad. In this respect, it is an important step towards self-sufficiency, as opposed to participating in an international bidding war for PPE with all the associated risks.
Sustainability became a central tenet of discussion throughout. Being highly sensitive to price ensured that, for everyday medical disposables, Ireland can compete with the far-east in an environmentally friendly way by eliminating agents, the need for shipping, and financial and environmental costs. HSE has approved the design of the Biovue goggles with an initial order of 250,000 units. The goggles will go straight to the healthcare front line and will be especially relevant for emergency medicine.
At this extremely challenging time, it is heart-warming & reassuring to see academia & industry collaborate for the good of the country.
Eamon Judge, Chair of the COVID Alliance
The voluntary pro-bono members of the Alliance have taken many other initiatives in the crisis – from ensuring the capability of the medical oxygen systems, to the development of indigenous PPE manufacturing, safe decontamination of PPE for reuse, and solving the shortage of raw materials for lysis buffer, an essential component used in COVID-19 testing.
Great design is about identifying the real human problems to solve, and applying creative innovation, speed, and collaboration to solve those problems. Now that we’re many months into COVID we must not forget to continue to find future-proof solutions for our frontline workers. The Covid Alliance motto says it all: Ní neart go cur le cheile – There is no strength without unity.