Bengaluru: Of the many heroic deeds of Indian firms innovating in a variety of ways during the lockdown — from developing a vaccine, to managing logistics to designing safe online education delivery to developing AI enabled testing platforms, India can add yet another success story – that of developing indigenous ‘seam sealing machines’ for making PPE kits.
The machines stitched out of a successful industry-academia partnership helped beat the six month long wait time to source ones from Japan or China.
Mr Chocko Valliappa, vice chairman of the Sona Group with interests in technology, IT services, design, engineering education and skill training, encouraged the teams within the group to pool their academic and industry resources to benefit the industry and lead to better outcomes for its engineering students.
The leadership team at Vee Technologies, a Bengaluru based technology services company, called upon its team of engineers in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic to look for areas where it could help play a role in containing the pandemic. It held discussions with the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) on possible areas where it could contribute.
Following discussions, it identified that a key problem area for India was a shortage of seam sealing machines for making Personal protection kits as no Indian manufacturer had ever made them. Importing these machines from Japan and China would mean a long wait time extending up to six months.
A core team of project engineers from Vee Technologies took up the challenge even though many in the team had not even heard the name of PPE kit until March 2020 let alone seeing a machine that would do the seam sealing. Just before the lockdown the Vee Technologies team had worked with the IT Department of Sona College of Technology to re-engineer an app for contact tracing of Covid19 positive individuals.
A search led them to connect with researchers from the fashion technology departments of Sona College of Technology who were experienced in dealing with different fabrics and materials. The team, homebound during the nationwide lockdown, researched, and then came up with design ideas which it shared over Zoom calls. Several iterations later, the design was finalised. In the middle of a total lockdown, sourcing parts also was challenging.
However, within no time, gleaming seam sealing machines that matched the imported version were ready. The speed with which this team sewed together a product few had seen earned them accolades for producing an engineering marvel because the only details they had were from the manuals and videos online. The team was ecstatic to see these machines in a production facility.
These indigenous machines were soon working side by side with Japanese machines matching their exacting standards in making PPE kits.
Even the AICTE took note of this stellar industry academia partnership. One of the notable reasons why the Department of Fashion Technology team won the AICTE-CII 2020 for its industry-academia linkage. Vee Technologies CEO Mr Chocko Valliappa calls this a showcase of the Indian engineering prowess and a ‘sangam’ of industry and academia to jointly design and manufacture a product in the true spirit of building an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Vee Technologies is a winner of World HRD Congress dream employers 2021 award.