Thursday, August 6, 2020

MVM, an open-source and border-crossing project to fight the pandemic

MVM innovative device for assisted breathing (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)
MVM innovative device for assisted breathing (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)

Born from an intuition of the Italian physicist Cristiano Galbiati and devised for fast and simple manufacturing, MVM innovative device for assisted breathing has been developed in just over a month through a broad international scientific collaboration, with the support of some Italian companies like the leader Elemaster. An excellence free-access project, which in just 6 weeks has obtained the emergency certification by the United States certifying body FDA, Food and Drug Administration

In these last months, mechanical ventilation has become very topical again, unfortunately owing to the effects of Covid-19 virus diffusion, turning assisted breathing devices into indispensable necessary equipment. A context in which the difficult provisioning, dictated by a demand exceeding the availability of devices, has caused not few problems, putting the healthcare system to hard test on a national and international scale.

MVM is a new type of pulmonary ventilator designed for mass-production and has been designed to face the need of obtaining the simplest possible device; it draws inspiration from Manley ventilator, developed by Roger Manley in 1961 (Courtesy of Studio Volpi)
MVM is a new type of pulmonary ventilator designed for mass-production and has been designed to face the need of obtaining the simplest possible device; it draws inspiration from Manley ventilator, developed by Roger Manley in 1961 (Courtesy of Studio Volpi)

MVM, acronym of “Milano Ventilatore Meccanico”, is an international project conceived in Italy precisely as solution also to these criticalities, and developed in just over a month due to the collaboration of a large group of scientists, clinicians and healthcare professionals, as well as thanks to the support of some Lombard companies that have allowed its feasibility in a very short time. An all-Italian manufacturing chain of which Elemaster has been leader company and coordinator since the early phases, enabling the implementation (in record time) of the first prototypes. Precisely at Elemaster headquarters at Lomagna (LC) we met Cristiano Galbiati, creator of the project, professor of Physics at Gssi (Gran Sasso Science Institute) and at Princeton University in New Jersey, member of Infn (National Institute of Nuclear Physics), for fifty years engaged in the international collaboration “The Global Argon Dark Matter Collaboration (GADMC)”, with research activity on dark matter, an invisible component of universe, with experiments at Infn National Laboratories of Gran Sasso and at Canadian Snolab and Triumf laboratories.

Cristiano Galbiati, creator of the project, professor of Physics at Gssi (Gran Sasso Science Institute) and at Princeton University in New Jersey, member of Infn (National Institute of Nuclear Physics)
Cristiano Galbiati, creator of the project, professor of Physics at Gssi (Gran Sasso Science Institute) and at Princeton University in New Jersey, member of Infn (National Institute of Nuclear Physics)

«The implementation of sophisticated experimental instruments for the research in fundamental Physics –Galbiati states – has allowed the development of specific competences in the ambit of gas management systems and of complex control systems, similar to those used in lung ventilators equipping hospitals, and also other precision medicine branches. The challenge consisted in succeeding in designing, manufacturing and certifying a safe efficient ventilator, equipped with an advanced control system permitting different ventilation modalities, yet at the same time characterized by simple design. A design based on components easily provisioned on the market, to be quickly produced in various Countries».

From the project to the prototype

Temporarily set aside their studies on dark matter, scientists have made available know-how and experience to start the development of a first ventilator prototype by ventilator repair and support centre of Sapio Life company at Vaprio d’Adda (MI).
The synergy and the direct constant collaboration with the Department of Physics of the State University of Milan contributed in speeding up all project stages, as well as the support by Elemaster and by other Italian companies involved, such as Nuclear Instruments, AZ Pneumatica, Saturn Magnetic, Bel Power Europe and Camozzi.
MVM ventilator draws inspiration from the ventilator developed by Roger Manley in 1961, based on the principle of the “possibility of using the pressure of the gases from the anaesthetic machine as the motive power for a simple apparatus to ventilate the lungs of the patients in the operating theatre”.

The operation of the new MVM just needs a source of pressurized oxygen (or pressurized air for medical use) and power supply. Made up by electrically driven pneumatic valves rather than mechanical switches, with a stripped-down mechanical design that avails itself of readily available off-the-shelf components, the system is designed to work in pressure-controlled mode, which appears to be thecorrect ventilation modality, suiting the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Schematic Design of MVM ventilator
Schematic Design of MVM ventilator

MVM can be operated in both independent ventilation (pressure-controlled ventilation, PCV) and patient-assisted control modes (pressure-supported ventilation, PSV). Directly connected to a line of pressurized medical oxygen or medical air, MVM relies on the flow regulation to deliver medical air, medical oxygenor a mixture of both to the patient, at a pressure in the suitable range for treatment. The pressure regulation of the end-expiratory cycle is achieved through a valve that sets the desired minimum positive end-expiratory pressure (Peep). Another adjustable pressure limiting valve, connected to the inspiratory line, ensures that the maximum pressure delivered does not exceed the pre-set value.

«Designed to similarly meet the requirements of a ventilator as simply as possible –Galbiati underlines – MVM is made up by pneumatic solenoid valves instead of mechanical switches, integrating the advanced features designed by anaesthesiologists participating in the project who work in the medical wards in Lombardy. Its modular design can be adapted to swap up parts based on their availability in different regions of the world. Especially, it is composed by a small number of mechanical components. Not more than one dozen, if we exclude the box, against the hundreds needed for the ventilators currently available on the market».

For MVM project, Elemaster’s team of 40 specialists is fulltime dedicated to the project management, to the design and the production of printed circuit boards, through its manufacturing companies, Eletech and Eleprint, coordinating the other Italian companies involved, too
For MVM project, Elemaster’s team of 40 specialists is fulltime dedicated to the project management, to the design and the production of printed circuit boards, through its manufacturing companies, Eletech and Eleprint, coordinating the other Italian companies involved, too

In terms of functions, the difference is also made by the electronic control unit and the whole management software, it too fruit of a circular collaboration that operated in open innovation free-access environment, to allow the fast progress of design and testing, shortening the times needed by production.
The cooperation among particle physics laboratories in Italy, Canada and United States has allowed defining common international standards for the device, maximising the benefits that derive from the sharing of information. Therefore, neither a patent nor the release of exclusive licenses are foreseen. «After accurate tests –Galbiati adds – and qualification processes of the first prototype performance with breathing simulators, carried out with the Medicine Department of Milano-Bicocca University at San Gerardo Hospital in Monza (MB), it was possible to implement in few weeks the first industrialized ventilator that has proven the correctness and the viability of the conceptual design». A design developed upon precise indications provided by who, like prof. Antonio Pesenti, specialist in resuscitation and coordinator of the Crisis Unit of Lombardy Region for Intensive Cares, daily operates on the field.

From production to the new challenge for the second generation

In MVM project, which benefitted from the support and the contribution by CNR and other Lombard Universities (Milan, Bergamo, Brescia, Pavia and Insubria), also the researchers of the Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry of Pisa University and CNR IFC, supported by the staff of Tuscan Gabriele Monasterio Foundation and Sra Instruments, collaborated to exclude the release of noxious substances during the operation and to obtain the approval by certifying bodies.

For MVM project, Elemaster’s team of 40 specialists is fulltime dedicated to the project management, to the design and the production of printed circuit boards, through its manufacturing companies, Eletech and Eleprint, coordinating the other Italian companies involved, too
For MVM project, Elemaster’s team of 40 specialists is fulltime dedicated to the project management, to the design and the production of printed circuit boards, through its manufacturing companies, Eletech and Eleprint, coordinating the other Italian companies involved, too

Concerning assessment and certification procedures, competent institutions in Italy and abroad were involved (FDA, Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada).
The primary responsibility of the project submission to FDA for its certification was taken by Elemaster, through its International Design Center.
«In early May –Galbiati specifies –MVM ventilator, in just 6 weeks, obtained the emergency certification, i.e. Eua, Emergency Use Authorization, by FDA, Food and Drug Administration the United States certifying body. This means that since then it has been authorized to join the hospital equipment of the Countries that acknowledge the American certification».
An important step. Undoubtedly, a great satisfaction for the efforts lavished until now by all protagonists at stake, but certainly not a finishing line, as Galbiati in person confirms: «The project – he ends – is not accomplished at all. If on one hand the production in Italy is a concrete fact, due to the joint coordination with Elemaster, the large-scale one in other parts of the world is constantly evolving. We have defined some provisioning chains and identified some qualified companies that have shown interest in supporting this project of global scope. Companies that, like Elemaster, must be also certified to meet the very high standards required. As interesting is the development in course of MVM+, a second generation of MVM, more integrated, implemented by pursuing the same philosophy focused on user-friendliness and low-cost feasibility, but provided with even more advanced functions».

Aerial view of Elemaster at Lomagna (LC) (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)
Aerial view of Elemaster at Lomagna (LC) (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)

Founded in 1978, Elemaster stands out in the international scenario as Mechatronics Service Provider, offering services of design and manufacture of high-tech electronic equipment. Thanks to its distinctive know-how gained on processes, today it supports its customers overseeing the entire lifecycle of an electronic product:• Original Design Manufacturing: R&D services, industrialization and certification of electronic devices. • PCB Manufacturing: inhouse production of printed circuit boards. • Cable Manufacturing: in-house production of cables. • Electronic Manufacturing Services: rapid prototyping and serial assembling of electronic boards. • Mechatronic Services: mechanical integration services and testing of subunits and finished products. • Logistic and After Sales: logistic services and after sales assistance.

Detail of the electronic board implemented by Elemaster Group mounted on BMS (battery management system) for electric vehicles. (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)
Detail of the electronic board implemented by Elemaster Group mounted on BMS (battery management system) for electric vehicles. (Courtesy of Giuseppe Valentino)

Operating in Italy, United States, China, India and Tunisia, Elemaster Group stands out on the market as One Stop Shop for its customers who are the major global players in high-tech sectors, such as railway, medical, avionics, automotive, industrial automation and energy. The services offered concern the entire product lifecycle, from the production of printed circuit boards to design, certification, industrialization, prototyping and production of electronic boards and products, to logistics and after sale services.

by Gianandrea Mazzola

Atop, now part of the Ima Group

ATOP has been manufacturing cutting-edge machines and automatic lines for the production of wound stators and rotors of electric motors since 1993.
Its offer includes the supply of consolidated production lines, as well as the development of tailored solutions to meet quality and production requirements in the numerous electric motors production technologies. From winding to testing and assembly processes, always following its sustainability path.
The two decades of well-established experience in the design and manufacturing of manual/standalone equipment and automatic machines up to fully automatic production lines with high productivity and quality, enable ATOP to satisfy even the most demanding projects providing cutting-edge solutions with high technological content.
In 2019 ATOP was acquired by IMA, thus fostering the creation of a new business segment for the Group and increasing its range of action.
Consolidated know-how and continuous innovation, combined with the support of IMA Group, are now strengthening ATOP’s capability to act as a top player in the market, ensuring not only its global leading position but also allowing IMA to fulfil its commitment towards sustainability.
ATOP is, in fact, part of the E-Mob program within IMA Zero project, launched by the Group last January. Since the beginning, ATOP is fully committed in the development of innovative production technologies in the field of e-Mobility. Thanks to IMA’s consolidated industrial capability, ATOP can definitely boost its operational, sales & service capabilities at worldwide scale accordingly.
Moreover, with the participation in the IMA Digital project too, the synergy in terms of new smart digital products and solutions is further reinforced. Actually, ATOP has been the first company of the Group to use the new Remote FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) platform, now available by the IMA Group.
Thanks to this successful experience, ATOP has reconfirmed the opportunity to carry out the remote checking procedures of its lines, still in full cooperation with the Customer Technical Team, but without their physical presence on site.
In the next steps, ATOP will work to strengthen its market positioning as a company working with leaders of the sector and to highlight IMA’s presence in this field.

Investment for building a manned multicopter

Source: The Lead South Australia
Source: The Lead South Australia

A South Australian company Alauda that is building a manned multicopter to compete in its flying electric car racing series has been funding from leading technology venture capital firms Saltwater Capital and Jelix Ventures. Leading FX and money management firm Equals and German logistics company DHL have also both backed Alauda with support and funds.
Alauda will use the investment to ramp up design and manufacture of its vehicle, which it aims to test with a pilot aboard before the end of the year.
Alauda also owns Airspeeder, the racing league that plans to host a flying car series at various global locations from as early as next year.
Alauda formed in 2015 and also has an office in London in close proximity to international motorsport bodies and global brands.

Manufacturing, towards a real recovery

Credit Nick Youngson

The Italian and European mechanics urgently needs to sparkle, exploiting at best the paradigms of the new post Covid-19 normality. Senaf has organized an interesting webinar on the subject, highlighting the impellent need of creating sound business networks, especially for SME.

A positive sign coming from Senaf – which on June 10th 2020 organized an event to discuss and to compare future ideas and projects in the current context and for future scenarios – is undoubtedly the confirmation of MECSPE exhibition, scheduled in Parma from 29th to 31th October 2020. The President of Tecniche Nuove Group, Ivo Nardella, informed with enthusiasm and confidence that the exhibition will maintain its numbers foreseen at the origin, with 1,700 companies that will be on stage complying with the rules prescribed by the Superior Health Institute.

Clockwise from top left: Ivo Nardella, Alberto Dal Poz, Paolo Rolandi, Alessandro Garnero, Luca Manuelli, Roberto Zani
Clockwise from top left: Ivo Nardella, Alberto Dal Poz, Paolo Rolandi, Alessandro Garnero, Luca Manuelli, Roberto Zani

In the Digital Talk “Made in Italy Manufacturing: Ideas and projects for the sector upswing” the witness by the representatives of important trade associations that mainly represent the SME world, such as Alberto Dal Poz – President Federmeccanica, Roberto Zani – President CNA Production and Paolo Rolandi – National President of Confartigianato Mechanical Federation, was heartfelt in communicating how much indispensable is an incisive intervention in the bureaucratic and financial ambit by political decision makers.
It is instead desirable that on their turn companies build business networks permitting to create a stronger and sounder manufacturing chain, with more trump cards in Italian and international ambit.
The speech by Luca Manuelli, President CFI – Smart Factory Cluster, underlined instead how the digital transformation plays a crucial role in the recovery of “a new normality”, where education and new competences are key elements of a development towards a resilient interconnected and integrated factory, able to satisfy the more and more important smart working requirements.
Chaired by Alessandro Garnero – editorial director, Manufacturing Division of Tecniche Nuove Group, the Digital Talk “Made in Italy manufacturing: Ideas and projects for the sector upswing”, was the first date of a new cycle of Mecspe virtual meetings dedicated to the manufacturing 4.0 world.

A mobile robot for construction sites

Husky A200 (Credits Fraunhofer Italia Innovation Engineering Center)
Husky A200 (Credits Fraunhofer Italia Innovation Engineering Center)

Husky A200 is a mobile robotic platform designed to be used for autonomous logistic tasks on construction sites.
Pursued by the Fraunhofer Italia Innovation Engineering Center, this project is one of the chances to advance the cause of digitalization in construction and bridge the gap between robotics and the building industry.
Researchers at this center based in Bolzano, Italy, are developing a software interface that will enable mobile robots to find their way around in construction sites.
They are tapping the technology called building information modeling (BIM) to develop software systems and interfaces that receive time-sensitive data such as information about obstacles that the robot cannot detect with its sensors. This way, the robot can be alerted to things like an open cable pit or elevator shaft on a given day at the construction site so that it can navigate around these pitfalls.
Designed for harsh environments, this mobile robotic platform is equipped with an electronic control unit and acceleration, laser and inclination sensors to help it navigate rough terrain.
The information the robot platform receives by means of BIM data can help improve its navigation capabilities and augment its sensory perception. This team aims to make the most of available digital building data on the construction site. The main benefit in this use case is that this data enables the mobile robot to transport heavy loads such as construction materials and tools in a constantly changing environment to lighten the workload of humans on the construction site.


FCA and city of Turin to trial automatic switch to electric mode for hybrid cars

On June 3, FCA informed that a collaboration agreement was signed between the Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Mobility of the City of Turin and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to test a system that allow its hybrid plug-in cars to automatically switch to electric-only mode when entering congested city centres.
The project is named “Turin Geofencing Lab” and involves the city authorities and public transport agency GTT (the Operator of public transport companies in Turin), 5T (a city-owned company that manages the ZTL access authorizations) and Centro Ricerche Fiat (the brand’s development center for drive trains, vehicle systems, materials and innovative processes to improve the competitiveness of vehicle models).
The system is based on a prototype system with fully integrated on-board sensors allowing a hybrid vehicle to recognise when it is entering a restricted traffic zone (Zona a Traffico Limitato, ZTL) in the inner city of Turin.
The on-board electronics will then automatically turn off the internal combustion engine and switch to electric mode.
This would allow hybrid cars to enjoy dispensations for electric vehicles in the city centre (the ZTL area), including dedicated parking spaces.
The system has been initially tested on the new Jeep Renegade 4xe hybrid plug-in model. The tests could be extended to the group’s other hybrid models from next year.
The COVID-19 crisis has not significantly delayed FCA’s plans to launch its first full-electric and hybrid models. An electric version of the Fiat 500 small car and plug-in hybrid versions of Jeep’s Renegade and Compass models are due to hit the market this summer.
Roberto Di Stefano, FCA’s Head of EMEA e-Mobility, said: “The Turin Geofencing Lab project represents a great collaboration between the city of Turin, which has to set strict environmental protection rules, and a company like FCA, which must find innovative, affordable solutions for drivers to help improve air quality in our cities. Once this unique pilot project with the city of Turin is completed, we will offer the same technology to other local governments in Italy and abroad.”

Delivery robots providing a vital service during the quarantine

Starship Robot Delivery Service Launch Event, Monkston Park, Milton Keynes, April 2018

Robots provided a much-needed connection to the outside world in Milton Keynes, the small city about 50 miles northwest of London, locked down to fight coronavirus.
Two years before the pandemic, a start-up called Starship Technologies deployed a fleet of rolling delivery robots in Milton Keynes, one of the fastest-growing cities in Britain, with a population of 270,000 and a vast network of bicycle paths, is perfectly suited to rolling robots.
The squat six-wheeled robots shuttled groceries and dinner orders to homes and offices. As the coronavirus spread, Starship shifted the fleet even further into grocery deliveries. Locals could buy from the corner store with no human contact.

The Service

Starship Technologies is revolutionizing deliveries with autonomous robots. They are designed to deliver food, groceries, and packages locally in minutes. The delivery robots have travelled tens of thousands of miles and met millions of people across 100 cities around the world. They drive autonomously but are monitored by humans who can take control at any time. Starship was founded by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis. Former AirBnB executive Lex Bayer is CEO.
The robots already in operation in Fairfax, VA (George Mason University); Flagstaff, AZ (Northern Arizona University); Pittsburgh, PA (University of Pittsburgh); Monkston (Milton Keynes, UK); London; Hamburg (Germany), and Tallinn (Estonia).

What are some of the robot’s tech specs?

The robot weighs around 20 kg empty and the delivery compartment can hold up to 10 kg. It can travel up to 6 km/h and it uses a sensor suite for navigation and situational awareness.
The GPS and CV based navigation uses proprietary maps and allows for 1 inch navigation precision.
The robots can drive autonomously in pre-mapped areas. The mapping process is highly efficient and involves the robots under human control for the first runs. After the routes have been mapped, the robots can at any given time turn to remote human operators for assistance when making decisions in unexpected situations or when dealing with social interaction.

The fight to the virus has an electric motor

On a global scale, the idea of boosting the fight to Covid-19 through the collaboration between Medtronic (global manufacturer of medical equipment and solutions), SpaceX and Tesla for the implementation of lung ventilators for intensive care has aroused justified echo.
With this initiative, Medtronic intended to involve, first of all, the aerospace industry SpaceX manufacturer and the international electric mobility Tesla brand.
Elon Musk’s company has then confirmed the possibility of effectively contributing in the achievement of the precious and ambitious target that Medtronic itself has set. In other words, increasing its output of  bmechanical ventilation systemsy 40%, to provide solutions against the emergency timely, after allocating an additional budget of 10 million dollars for research through its foundation.

Initially sceptical about the actual dangerousness of the virus, Musk not only changed his mind but he also undertook strong actions, first for finding over 1,200 made in China lung ventilators – on whose operation arguments did not miss – and then with an even more impressive move.
That is to say deciding to open again that Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York State, which like the vast majority of North American manufacturing facilities had been compelled to lockdown since the last week of March.

Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York State
Tesla Gigafactory in Buffalo, New York State

Therefore, where they developed solar panels and the components for the innovative fast recharge Supercharger V3 network, support technologies to Covid-19 patients and health operators started being shaped. The tycoon’s commitment was not limited to that because press sources have reminded that works are proceeding to reconvert a part of Californian Fremont factory’s lines, still for the implementation of hospital technologies.
Medtronic in Italy is playing a protagonist role in the world, in the ambit of the strategies for the fight to Covid-19. Besides developing the supplies of devices and technologies, it is the focus of a variety of projects that in our Country have for instance concerned the specialized induced activities of Mirandola district and have been fulfilled in strict collaboration with innovation incubators and accelerators such as Maverx Foundation.
(By Roberto Carminati)

Weg, in-house safety and guaranteed supplies to industries

WEG has strengthened the policy of internal safety against COVID-19 emergency, guaranteeing the continuity of supplies to essential market segments. With branches in 36 Countries and factories in 12 nations, WEG’s productive activities are increasingly demanded by food, energy and infrastructure industries.
In this crisis time, WEG products play an essential role in terms of energy supply, especially for the creation of temporary hospital structures. WEG’s strategy precisely aims at eliminating any hitch in the supply chain for all sectors deemed of primary importance, ascribing utmost priority to the supply of equipment for hospitals, health structures, pharmacies and supermarkets.
Moreover, the enhancement of WEG procedures guarantees the safety and the protection of the labour force on a world scale, which counts over 31,800 workers.
WEG’s productive activity has prosecuted with a reduced number of workers, in compliance with the directives that impose the social distancing; besides, where possible, employees have started operating in “smart working” modality.

SUV Volvo, the hybrid plug-in is coming

Volvo XC40 Plug-In Hybrid

Volvo’s race to zero emissions is going on. Despite the period of stop to alive presentations and to road tests owing to the Coronavirus emergency, the last novelty by the renowned Swedish automotive company is shining with confidence: the SUV in hybrid plug-in version with overall power of 262 HP and autonomy up to 45 km in electric.
Next September lands on the Italian market XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-in Hybrid, the hybrid recharge version of the compact SUV that, since its release in September 2017, has become Volvo’s best- seller in Italy, with over 21,500 units sold until now.
The Recharge T5 Plug-in Hybrid version, like all XC40, springs from Volvo CMA (Compact Modular Architecture) compact platform, conceived to host the technical elements connected with electrification.

The characteristics of XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-in Hybrid
– 180 HP 3-cylinder 1.5 litre petrol engine
– 82 HP electric motor
– Maximum cumulative power: 262 HP
– Maximum torque: 425 Nm (265+160 Nm)
– Maximum speed: 180 km/h (self-limited)
– Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 7”3
– Tank capacity: 48 litres
– Consumption (WLTP): 2.0-2.4 l/100 Km
– CO2 emissions (WLTP): 45-55 g/Km
– Battery capacity: 10.7 (8.5) KW nominal (usable)
– Maximum autonomy in electric: 45 Km
The plug-in hybrid version guarantees the ecologic performances of the hybrid recharge technology by Volvo and it is the first car of the brand with serial hybrid: both propulsive elements intervene in fact on the front axle.
A XC40 Recharge T5 Plug-in Hybrid is entrusted with the important task of impressing the decisive boost to the diffusion of the plug-in hybrid Volvo technology in Italy. The target is to make plug-in hybrid variants represent 16% of total sales of XC40 for 2020, an important driving element to allow plug-in hybrid models to totalize 15% of Volvo global sales in Italy.
On a global scale, the target of Volvo Cars for 2020 is that plug-in hybrid cars achieve 20% of total sales.