Sudbury technology manufacturing company FORTAI is using its skills to convert a mining supply chain and logistics product, the SmartCube, into a tool that sanitizes personal protective equipment or other devices used by front-line and essential workers across a range of industries.

The company will bring its Sanitization SmartCube into production within 30 days by leveraging its proven SmartCube technology; a powerful set of partners; and expertise from the INOVINTA group of companies, which includes BESTECH and SHYFTinc.

“This technology will ensure confidence in PPE for front-line and essential workers and meet the needs of a temporary new normal,” Trang Tran-Valade, FORTAI’s president, said. “The mining industry is familiar with creating safe workplaces in challenging environments. Our goal is to deploy Sanitization SmartCubes in hospitals, mines or other workplaces with PPE requirements. Our solution will enable workers to easily sanitize everything from PPE to tools.

“The great thing is that SmartCubes are scalable — we can right-size them for different workplaces and sites. Through increased vigilance, social distancing and safe sanitization of materials, we can help our country, community and families.”

FORTAI developed its initial SmartCube with mines in mind. It was envisioned as a mobile inventory management solution designed to allow for safe containment and transportation of materials, including explosives.

Due to COVID-19, the company is redirecting its resources to create sanitization chambers for PPE, clothing or other tools. By using the SmartCube technology, users can track and log PPE as it is sanitized.

“The idea for the Sanitization SmartCube was sparked in a video conference call involving the heads of our group of companies — BESTECH, SHYFTinc and FORTAI,” Marc Boudreau, CEO of INOVINTA, said. “What drove the decision to pivot our business was a discussion of how people we know and love are being affected by this virus.”

Given the urgency of this project, FORTAI and the INOVINTA group is extending the call to other researchers, companies and medical professionals who are willing to work on the project. FORTAI is already working with Laurentian University and the Perdue Central Analytical Facility.

“Laurentian University is pleased to explore opportunities to collaborate with FORTAI on the development of the Sanitization SmartCube,” Tammy Eger, interim VP of research at LU, said. “There are a number of researchers at Laurentian University interested in applying their knowledge to COVID-19 projects and technologies.”

For the group, the decision to refocus resources is personal, Boudreau said.

“We have employees whose family members are working in the ICU and facing this challenge head-on,” he noted. “All of our core businesses are still actively working, but we could not just go on like it’s business as usual when together, we have a unique and innovative team of experts, technologies and partnerships that can make a real difference. We need to do our part.”

Article by Sudbury Star Staff