Unindustria promptly responded to the need of producing innovative surgical masks and glasses by networking companies, associations and regional healthcare.
During Covid emergency, the lack of medical devices has led Unindustria Reggio Emilia to create a network of local companies by involving Confindustria Emilia-Romagna (Regional Level of Unindustria), Regional Healthcare, Municipality of Reggio Emilia and Biomedical Technopole (part of the Regional High Technology Network) to promote the production of innovative surgical masks and protective glasses and to support certification process. The aim was to develop a project that could benefit Emilia-Romagna Region. The requests of Unindustria support started from:
1. Nuova Sapi: the company prototyped the first example of surgical mask made up of 3 layers of non-woven fabric and turned to Unindustria for support industrializing the product. The collaboration has expanded to other stakeholders in Reggio Emilia who, thanks to the coordination of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, have contributed to the project success;
2. Nannini: the company received a request for the supply of protective glasses by the command of the Brigade Fire, where personal protection materials were scarce. Nannini, with Unindustria support, started a collaboration with Raleri, a Bolognese company expert in the production of protective glasses and face shields. Thanks to the technical contribution of Raleri and Nannini's skills in less than a week a protective visor designed and developed by Raleri, and a model of protective glasses derived from the Modular project, already existing in Nannini, were made.
The project consisted in the industrial reconversion of local companies’ production in order to produce PPE for the emergency. Therefore, companies employed their own internal resources.
Evidence of success
1. Nuova Sapi: pre-production of 20,000 prototype specimens to test the cutting and packaging production process and the reliability of the supply system. Two days later the production of over 100,000 masks per day began with the aim of exceeding 150,000 daily units in a few days.
2. Nannini – Raleri: 3,500 protective glasses per day from mid-April and 1,500-2,000 protective visors per day with volumes growing in the very short period.
Challenges encountered (optional)
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• Fast responsiveness;
• Availability of raw materials and subcontractors;
• Production capacity and know-how;
• Production equipment availability;
• Compliance with a regulatory requirement.
Potential for learning or transfer
Beside the industrial reconversion of companies’ production, which is something that many other European SMEs have done during the emergency, the interesting aspect of the project that could be transferred in other European countries is the process and system of collaboration that was put together in a very short period of time in order to support Emilia-Romagna ecosystem. Unindustria Reggio Emilia was able to quickly react and systematize companies., associations, competences, and materials necessary to urgently produce personal protective equipment to be distribute to the citizens.