A Project of Think Renewables Group
A Specialized eCommerce Platform to Sell Products that Help Counter the Spread of Covid-19
To view a quick summary about this initiative. see: slides only or slides with narration script.
There is a substantial shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and the general public.
At the same time, there is considerable new and existing unused capacity to manufacture PPE. For example, there are news reports of thousands of companies in Canada that have or are in the process of re-tooling to manufacture PPE. In addition, there are many 3D printers that are idle that could instead be printing free 3D designs for PPE such as head bands for face-shields. Currently, there does not appear to be an online platform that is specially designed to connect PPE producers and buyers on a substantial scale.
Gear4Covid.com is a specialized eCommerce platform that will offer a wide range of products to help counter the spread of Covid-19. The more advanced features of this platform are under development but basic version of it can be viewed at Gear4Covid.com. It is a project of Think Renewables Group, which is a company based in Toronto.
Orders from the general public for PPE products would go directly to individuals and private sector organizations that make these products. When feasible and practical, orders from hospitals and medical clinics would be directed to public institutions, such as universities, libraries and schools, that have 3D printers and are offering to make PPE products for free or at cost.
Each individual or organization that wants to sell through Gear4Covid would need to submit an application to us. If the individual or organization is approved, this person or organization can register as a supplier on this eCommerce platform. After a supplier does register on this platform, he/she/they can receive orders and fill out the fulfillment details of the order including tracking number.
Each supplier that receives an order to make a product would ship it directly to the person or organization that submitted the order. Therefore, it is expect that limited support for transactions will be needed to be completed by the Gear4Covid team.
To increase the product selection on Gear4Covid.com, a medical supplies wholesaler would be contracted to provide products for the website that it has in stock or can quickly supply to customers.
Enabling the Gifting of PPE:
To enable and facilitate the gifting of PPE to medical, assisted living, and/or nursing home facilities, a special section on the website would be provided to enable customers to order and pay for PPE for a selected facility. If welcomed by these facilities, a “gift registry” would also created to enable customers to learn what supplies are desired by these facilities. Once a customer decided on what they wanted to donate to the facility, they could then use this registry to quickly order and pay for these items they wanted to donate.
Distributed Operation and Management Model:
Gear4Covid would be designed to be operated and managed in a distributed manner so that social distancing can be maintained. For example, customer service agents and technical support staff can work from their respective homes. Regular meeting with be conducted by video conferencing.
Since suppliers using Gear4Covid platform manage their own inventory and implement their own shipping, this platform can expand to operate in multiple countries with relative ease. Therefore, we are interested to explore how quickly this can be done after this model is proven in Canada.
Range of Suppliers:
There appears to be a substantial surge of industrial capacity coming online to produce personal protection equipment (PPE) by a wide range of companies. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these companies were not selling products to the medical community so we expect that they would find value in selling their PPE related products through a specialized online marketplace such as Gear4Covid.
There are a wide range of 3D printable designs are available for free. For example, shown at this link are links to several 3D product designs that can be downloaded for free and produced by a range of 3D printers, see: Free 3D product designs for 3D Printers.
3D printed products that are ordered in substantial volumes may be shifted to production by one or more injection molding companies. For example, some injection molding companies can create molds within a few days and start producing products at a much lower cost and higher volume than could be completed using 3D printers. There are added benefits of producing products by an injection molding process. For example, the surface of an injected molded product in not nearly as porous a typical 3D printed projects so the former is more resistant to bacteria growth.
If needed, products produced by 3D printers can be sealed and/or finished by various methods. For some examples, see: Ultimate Guide to Finishing 3D Printed Parts by Fictiv. One example sealing coating for 3D printed products is called Epoxy Penetrating Sealing and Coating Resin System (BJB Enterprises Part #: TC-1614 A/B), which is an unfilled, low viscosity epoxy resin system designed to seal porous to semi-porous substrates. In addition, some materials used in 3D printing can be annealed through heating, which can help seal the pin-holes in the surface of a typical 3D printed product.
For some information comparing Gear4Covid to other online retailers, see: Gear4Covid Q & A.
Evolving Product Line After the Covid-19 pandemic has declined:
After the Covid-19 pandemic has declined substantially, the range of products on this eCommerce platform will evolve to what is in demand by its customers. Many of the suppliers will remain the same since its suppliers will change their product offerings once their existing products are no longer in demand. Therefore, this eCommerce platform can grow quickly now due to the pandemic and continue to a very substantial profitable business after the pandemic is over. To help enable this transition, we plan to brand Gear4Covid with an associated name that can be used after this pandemic is over. For example, we may indicate that Gear4Covid is powered by Your Distributed Marketplace.
Note: The below team and advisors are all part of existing team of people that includes faculty and graduate students from both Ryerson and York Universities on an initiative to increase investment in solutions that mitigate or adapt to climate change (Climate Solutions). This initiative is called “Accelerating Climate Solutions (ACS) Program” and is being implemented by the Climate Solutions Advancement Network (ClimateSAN), which is a project of Think Renewables Group, Inc. Due to the urgent need for action to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, they are all supporting this project.
a) Paul Stevers, Founder and Director, Gear4Covid Initiative, and President, Think Renewables Group
b) Quinn Daigle, Technology Manager, Gear4Covid Initiative and Masters of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, York University
c) Matthew Malinsky, Finance Manager, Gear4Covid Initiative and Master of Environmental Applied Science and Management Student at Ryerson University
d) Vivek Malhotra, Director of Operations, Gear4Covid Initiative
e) Spencer Stevenson, eCommerce & Marketing Advisor, Gear4Covid Initiative
a) Prof. Philip Walsh, Sr. Commercialization Advisor, and Associate Professor, School of Business Managment, Ryerson University.
b) Prof. Paul G. O’Brien, Sr. Technology Advisor and Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, York University, Toronto, ON.
c) Katie Fettes, Logistics and Communications Advisor, Gear4Covid Initiative, Think Renewables Group, Inc.
3) eCommerce System Developers:
a) Timothy Bramble, Partner, Managing Director, Meevo Digital
b) Mike Voiculescu, Partner, Technical Director, Meevo Digital