COVID-19 Testimonial Series | JAG Process Solutions
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Development of vaccine, drugs and robotic disinfection equipment to fight COVID-19
The following article is part of BioAlps’ testimonial series and was written by Mr Gilles Salomon, Jura Branch Director at JAG Process Solutions. Our series aims to provide a platform for the different life sciences actors from western Switzerland, who are active in finding and developing solutions to fight against the new coronavirus, to share their experience.
Presentation of JAG’s COVID-19 related activities
During the first three quarters of 2020, the JAG Group has collaborated extensively and effectively with several partners to develop and integrate leading-edge solutions in the fight against COVID-19.
Today, two industrial facilities are actively involved in the development of the vaccine and drugs against the virus, and new robotic disinfection equipments are being deployed in several public facilities in Switzerland.
Together with a customer in Bern and in close collaboration with its global partners (health authorities, governments, regulatory bodies and NGOs), JAG is involved in the production of vaccines thanks to the automation of specific bioprocesses.
Once the vaccine is developed, the ramp-up will be reliable and efficient, ensuring access to treatment for the maximum number of people worldwide.
With another long-time client of the JAG Group, a founding member and co-leader of the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance, the work focuses on adapting the production system for the serums used in the composition of drugs against COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
Indeed, hyperimmunoglobulins (HI) are highly concentrated antibodies in human plasma, which fight pathogens and other foreign substances. In the case of hyperimmune antibodies against this virus, the plasma used for manufacturing comes exclusively from fully recovered COVID-19 patients.
Throughout Switzerland, JAG has been integrating autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for several years. In 2020, we offer a world novelty with an AMR equipped with a collaborative robot arm, allowing selective UV-C disinfection.
This intelligent and flexible system is developed by the Danish company Enabled Robotics. It allows to disinfect precisely targeted areas in public places, such as door handles, computer keyboards, photocopiers, sanitary taps, …
The efficiency obtained is thus 5 times higher than that obtained when disinfecting rooms with non-selective UV light (i.e. fixedly installed on the mobile robot), and does not require its occupants to leave the room during the illumination phase, which can last several hours.
Exogenous impact of COVID-19 on the company
The way of working with the JAG Group’s clients and partners, in the context of current and future projects, has had to evolve as it has everywhere else in the world. Travelling, receptions and physical meetings have given way to videoconferences. Overall, the efficiency of work and relations with partners have suffered little from the advanced health constraints. Only the cancellation or postponement of commercial visits, technical visits to plants and delays in the delivery of components have sometimes temporarily compromised the progress of certain projects, without however calling them into question.
However, the COVID-19-related pandemic highlighted the great vulnerability of certain industrial productions, all sectors of activity taken together. Thus, some plants suddenly found themselves obliged to divide their teams, to compartmentalise them, or even to deprive themselves of key skills, … Their production was then drastically reduced, sometimes even stopped completely, with the dramatic consequences that one can imagine.
For the future, these plants have therefore decided to set up new organisations, generally making greater use of process automation and industrial and collaborative robotics. The goal is to ensure reliable, safe and efficient operation, regardless of the health constraints in force.
This phenomenon is amplified by the announced relocation of production activities at the national level, which will impose a better control of resources and costs as well as a search for maximum flexibility in the activities and organisation of plants. As a result, the Automation and Robotics entities of the JAG Group are expected to progress in the short and medium terms.
Endogenous impact of COVID-19 on the company
Like all businesses, the JAG Group has implemented a number of health and technical measures to ensure the safety of all its employees.
This transition to working remotely with the various partners, as well as at the level of the internal teams, has been carried out efficiently and comfortably. The technical organization and infrastructure in place within the JAG Group, well before the pandemic, enabled employees to quickly adapt to these new working methods.
In addition, some of the habits adopted this year will even continue after the COVID-19 period: for example, in the interests of project efficiency and the preservation of natural resources, there will probably be fewer physical meetings, in favor of digital meetings and the use of collaborative tools.
Cantonal and/or Federal support measures | JAG’s feedback
RHT (Hourly Work Reduction) support measures were put in place during the peak of the sanitary crisis. However, due to its activities enabling home office and introducing some new internal developments, recourse to these measures within the JAG Group has remained limited.