Zverse a hit on Amazon see more
The country's largest producer of branded face shields has made its top-selling products available for purchase on Amazon.
Earlier this spring, digital manufacturing company ZVerse created a first-ever PPE product to be marketed and sold directly to consumers: The ZShield, an ultra-lightweight, neck-mounted face shield designed to provide a comfortable, wearable barrier that helps users shield their face, mouth and eyes from spray, splatter, and the direct transfer of respiratory droplets. ZVerse has since produced over four million face shields, and now, several of its products are available for purchase on Amazon, marking another milestone for the company. All products are made in the USA.
"At the height of the COVID-19 impact on the U.S., we recognized our unique ability to quickly produce and provide valuable PPE to our front-line healthcare heroes, while also creating jobs and stimulating the local economy," said John Carrington, founder and CEO of ZVerse. "We have since grown our PPE product pipeline to serve a number of industries. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to our partners and customers for helping us reach this milestone with Amazon."
Shoppers on Amazon now have access to four ZShield models, including the ZShield Health, the ZShield Flex, the ZShield Wrap and the ZShield Youth. ZShields can be purchased individually and in packs of two or five. Replacement shields for both the Flexand Wrap are also on sale in quantities of five or 10.
Based on industry and customer demand, ZVerse creates face shields that provide a threshold of hygiene for those seeking options for face coverings. ZShields allow for clear verbal and nonverbal communication and all-day comfort when masks or stationary sneeze guards are not practical, or when environments call for the use of both a shield and a face mask. The ZShield has completely disrupted the industry, bringing much-needed design innovation to the world of PPE and earning ZVerse a 2020 Innovation by Design Award from Fast Company. ZVerse is now producing hundreds of thousands of ZShields a day, which are all designed, sourced and made in the USA through an established domestic supply chain.
Greenville's Humimic Medical pivots to meet pandemic needs see more
When the coronavirus pandemic left businesses around the nation struggling with dwindling orders and growing bills, some took a chance on something new.
Among them was Greenville-based Humimic Medical.
The 10-year-old company produces synthetic gels that mimic human tissue used in medical applications. Almost overnight, it switched to producing personal protective equipment (PPE), illustrating that there are opportunities everywhere for people with innovative ideas.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing and the path was punctuated by a couple of Hail Mary passes, said Humimic founder and CEO Joel Edwards.
“None of our (products) had any ties with PPE or any Covid-related things … and everything was going pretty well,” he said. “We thought we were bulletproof.”
Then the phones stopped ringing, he said. There were no orders for three months.
Edwards spoke at the first of a series of webinars called “Leading Beyond the Crisis” that examines companies that responded to the pandemic. The webinars are hosted by InnoVision Awards, a grass roots non-profit dedicated to innovation and technology across the state.
Originally a defense industry company, Humimic began to focus on the medical side about four years ago, he said.
And in the face of the virus, it started looking at what else it could do, he said.
Since the company had a plastics supplier in Mount Pleasant and had just bought some new equipment, it turned to face shields when the virus exposed the desperate need for PPE, he said.
“We thought raw product (plastic, foam) was easy to come by, but when we started looking around, none were easy to secure,” he said. “And I’m running numbers in my head and thinking what did I get myself into.”
His contact in Mount Pleasant was his “only saving grace.” Then the elastic supply dried up.
“So we said, heck, Velcro is readily available,” he said. “And we started to get as much as we could get our hands on.”
The first shield the company made had straps that weren’t long enough to fit most men’s heads, he said. But once that problem was solved, it did an initial run of 500, he said.
Company officials thought they’d sell their shields for $4 to $4.50, he said. But with the Chinese selling theirs for $2 to $3, he wondered how the company could potentially make a profit and keep everyone employed.
“It was a hard thing for us to get people to understand. We were not looking to gouge the market and get rich,” Edwards said. “But our cost for the plastic was two to three times what Chinese were charging.”
In the end, he said, with no assembly line experience, the company had to produce 1,500 a day to make about $1 profit per shield.
“We knew price was going to be a hard thing,” he said. “The only way we were able to do it was to scoop up the plastic.”
As other suppliers ran out of stock, Humimic found markets at veterans’ centers, VA hospitals, dentist offices, nursing homes and mortuaries.
In the end, the company was able to produce some 80,000 shields sold around the country on Amazon and Walmart websites, Edwards said.
He said Humimic still has several thousand shields in stock, but it came out OK even though orders for PPE are slowing down.
If Covid flares up this winter, he said, the need might grow again.
Zverse honored in national competition see more
Columbia-based digital manufacturing company ZVerse has won a national design award for its ZShield Flex.
The ZShield, designed and manufactured by Columbia-based ZVerse, has won a national design award for innovation. (Photo/Provided)
The face shield, designed and produced by ZVerse, has been named an Innovation by Design Awards winner by business magazine Fast Company. The awards, in their ninth year, recognize creative, problem-solving innovations and have included winners such as Spotify, Google and Disney+.
The shields feature lightweight visors that clip around the wearer’s neck, making the shield comfortable for all-day wear. ZVerse’s computer assisted design platform creates custom, manufacturable 3D files that are returned to clients for production, enabling an invention to quicky go from idea to reality.
“We need innovative design more than ever, and the 2020 honorees have brought creativity, inventiveness, and humanity to address some of the world's most pressing problems, including the global pandemic, racial injustice, and economic inequality,” Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, said in a news release. “Together these entries offer a glimpse into a future that is more inclusive, more accessible, and more just.”
The ZShield Flex won in the Workplace category and also received an honorable mention in the Best Design of North America category alongside companies such as Microsoft, Google and Logitech. A complete list of winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are featured online and in the October-November issue of Fast Company, on newsstands Oct. 20.
In March, ZVerse founder and CEO John Carrington adapted the company’s business model to accelerate the mass production of face shields in response to a health care community struggling to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis. The company tested more than a dozen designs before settling on the ZShield, focused initially on the needs of health care workers before being adapted in partnership with industrial designer Scott Henderson for everyday use.
“At the onset of the pandemic, we recognized our unique role in the world as great enablers of digital manufacturing, and we pivoted to become one of the largest producers of face shields to serve our country’s urgent need for PPE,” Carrington said in the release. “After launching with ZShield Health, we brought on Scott Henderson to reimagine the traditional face shield design and create a product that would be comfortable for a variety of work environments as well as everyday life. Going to market with such a novel design and seeing it in use by so many people and industries has been a humbling experience. We’re honored to be recognized by Fast Company for our work; it’s truly been a labor of love.”
To date, ZVerse has produced more than four million shields, nearly tripling its workforce. Notable users include television and film production companies, Disney, Chick-fil-A, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Walgreens, according to the release.
“When ZVerse originally contacted me about collaborating, I immediately realized how historic this moment was and felt an urgent need to help with the project,” Henderson said. “Prior to COVID-19, face shields weren't considered an essential accessory outside of the healthcare and medical science industry. After a century of little innovation in regard to face shield design, I am so proud of our team for applying out-of-the-box critical thinking to create this new option for PPE.”
Nephron CEO and SCBIO Board Chair Lou Kennedy speaks out see more
The team at Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. in West Columbia has been honored to answer the call to serve during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
We have shipped hundreds of millions of doses of life-saving respiratory medications to patients nationwide. We have provided tens of thousands of gallons of Nephron-made, FDA-approved hand sanitizer to students, businesses, families and those in need. And we recently announced a $216 million expansion that includes factory production space where we will fill COVID-19 vaccines.
Every Nephron employee has a sense of pride. Of patriotism. But I would be remiss if I failed to mention that we also share a sense of concern.
China is one of the world’s largest suppliers of the precursor chemicals used to make active pharmaceutical ingredients and personal protective equipment. What we have come to recognize firsthand are the perils of dependence on foreign counties, such as China, for medicine and medical supplies.
As trade tensions between China and the United States grew last year, I was afraid China could intentionally disrupt the drug supply chain to the United States, exacerbating the drug shortage crisis, increasing the cost of drugs and potentially killing American patients.
The recurring question I had was: What can America do to break this dangerous dependence?
Now, as the world considers how to deal with China in the aftermath of this pandemic, the picture of a potential supply chain disruption is grimmer, serving as a vivid reminder that we are talking about matters of life and death.
I have been vocal about this issue for quite some time. In fact, I discussed America’s dependence on China for drug ingredients last year with federal officials, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. When U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham visited our plant a few weeks ago, we agreed: Something must be done to find American solutions to this American public health crisis.
So, it should be no surprise that I am excited about the executive order President Trump signed last week to shore up the domestic supply chain for life-saving medicines, reduce dependence on foreign sources of drugs and medical supplies and expand domestic production of both.
When the president signed this new executive order, he said: “As we’ve seen in this pandemic, the United States must produce essential equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals for ourselves. We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe that could one day deny us products in a time of need. We can’t do it. We can’t do it. We have to be smart.”
I could not agree more.
This is a no-brainer. The pandemic has taught us an important lesson. The best way to protect American patients, families and businesses is onshoring production of the things we need to keep them healthy and safe.
Over the past five months, the American people have endured hardships no one could have foreseen. We grieve with those who have lost loved ones to this unrelenting silent enemy. We support business owners small and large who want to slow the spread of this virus so we can reopen the world’s greatest economy. And we share the frustrations many people feel with politicians who are focused on winning the next election, rather than preparing for the next public health crisis.
We are grateful for these first steps President Trump is taking to make sure we never end up in this place again.
At Nephron, we have the technology, resources and people it takes to successfully partner with the federal government to make the public health preparedness infrastructure of this nation stronger than ever. South Carolina can and will be a leader in the effort to find American solutions for American public health.
This new executive order is the right way to do it.
PPE available through national exchange see more
The spring 2020 collaboration between SCMEP, the SC Hospital Association, the SC Department of Commerce and SCBIO which launched the online South Carolina Emergency Supply Collaborative portal to provide critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare providers, hospitals and businesses across the Palmetto State has taken a giant leap forward.
The SC Emergency Supply Collaborative has joined forces with the national team at PPE Exchange to provide a dramatically expanded and fully automated resource for accessing PPE and supplies for all South Carolina businesses.
PPE Exchange is an online marketplace of regional and national suppliers of PPE, similar in concept to an Amazon but dedicated to the provision of PPE and essential supplies. Via PPE Exchange, hospitals, health care providers and businesses seeking supplies are virtually connected to a marketplace of already-verified suppliers to securely search for items, schedule orders, compare prices and complete transactions.
Among the enhanced benefits of sourcing supplies via PPE Exchange is its support technology built on blockchain, allowing buyers: to track transactions from order placement to delivery; access to over 200 regional and national suppliers; easy ability to source from SC-based suppliers; price comparison capabilities; ability to order in small volumes; and a “request a quote” feature.
“The demand for PPE continues to be critical to our state and its diverse businesses and healthcare providers,” said Chuck Spangler, President of the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership and a spokesperson for the Emergency Supply Collaborative. “After creating and operating the South Carolina COVID-19 Emergency Supply portal with our partners these past several months, we identified PPE Exchange as an organization with the secure technology platform, expanded mix of vendors and products, and service-driven operations approach to provide the secure digital marketplace that Palmetto State organizations seeking PPE deserve.”
Much as with the prior Collaborative portal, PPE Exchange connects parties in need of essential supplies and equipment with those that can provide it quickly and efficiently. It allows industry providers of critical medical supplies (such as face shields, gowns, ventilators and masks) from South Carolina and across the U.S. to directly connect with the healthcare providers and members of industry in search of essential supplies in one easy step. South Carolina suppliers of goods are clearly marked to ensure that Palmetto State organizations can “Shop SC” as desired.
To begin accessing the marketplace on PPE Exchange, visit https://www.ppe.exchange/ and request access. Upon entering a contact email and basic information, an email will be automatically sent prompting a password reset and allowing login to the PPE Exchange website.
“Whether from a South Carolina or a South Dakota supplier, organizations and individuals can go online 24/7 via PPE Exchange to identify and select the critical need items they need from the expanded menu of providers and offerings,” said Sam Konduros, CEO of SCBIO. “We encourage every member of our state’s industry, if you have a need for PPE products, or want to add your products to the growing registry of vendors, to visit PPE Exchange now.”
Visit PPE Exchange at https://ppe.exchange/.
SCBIO webinar generates stance from SC Senator Lindsey Graham on repatriation see more
South Carolina's senior Sen. Lindsey Graham introduced legislation last week that he cited as important during a recent SCBIO webinar, saying it will make sure that essential medical personal protective equipment is made in America.
With support from other senators, Sen. Graham introduced the U.S. Made Act of 2020 to “decrease U.S. dependence on countries like China for personal protective equipment for our health care providers."
“With the spread of coronavirus, the inability of the United States to be self-sufficient with our supply of PPE has shown itself to be a national security issue,” he stated. “Just as the United States does not rely on China to supply military uniforms or equipment, we must not rely on them to supply PPE.”
Items declared national priorities include testing swabs, surgical and respirator masks, face shields, surgical and isolation gowns, sanitizing and disinfecting wipes, gauzes and bandages, and privacy curtains, beds and bedding.
The bill also outlines personal protective equipment acquisition requirements for the Strategic National Stockpile, and establishes an investment credit for qualifying personal protective equipment manufacturing projects.
“Coronavirus has been a painful wake-up call that we are too reliant on nations like China for critical medical supplies,” Sen. Graham noted. “Without changes, China remains set to dominate the PPE market for years to come. We have seen firsthand the problems not having a reliable source of PPE places on our health care system. The Chinese grip on this critical supply chain must come to an end, and this legislation accomplishes that goal.”