COVID-19: Automating factories for producing and optimizing personal protective equipment (PPE)

Kwok, Tsz Ho | $50,000

Quebec Concordia University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

This proposed project in collaboration with Nexas Networks Inc. aims at studying the factory automation and product optimization for mass-producing personal protective equipment (PPE) to address the needs in the COVID‑19 pandemic. This research will apply Industry 4.0 technologies to customize PPE with controlled quality and reduced need of human workers in the factory.

Most our factories are not capable to do mass customization and some of them cannot even function without human inputs. Although Industry 4.0 is a known concept to make use of Internet and machine learning, many machines today are closed source and may not even have the capability to communicate or connect into the network. This project aims to fill in this gap and to develop methodologies that suit the existing factories down to the ground. The ORiON Production Interface (OPI) unit from Nexas will be applied to remotely run the factory as is without the need of changing the machines. Computer vision algorithms will be implemented in the OPI unit autonomously detect errors, check the desired deformation, and even control the quality. A customization system will be developed to take the user’s data and modify the design to fit individual needs accordingly. The solution will be tested by fabricating an endotracheal intubation hood, which is a transparent plastic cover designed to cover a patient’s head and allow the clinician’s hands passing through two circular ports to perform an airway procedure.

This project collaboration with Nexas Networks Inc. is related to manufacturing research and is of importance to Montreal (Quebec), a top international centre for aerospace, automotive, and energy industries. The design and manufacturing knowledge gained in this project will be transferred to the supporting company and provide excellent training opportunities of future’s HQP in Canada.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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