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A case of the littlest bird singing the prettiest song

Brett Brune
By Brett Brune Editor in Chief, Smart Manufacturing

Imagine hearing the news that manufacturers are producing a proven and safe vaccine for COVID-19 and shipping it your way. It will be music to the world’s ears.

We don’t yet know which manufacturers will be involved. But thanks to guest columnist Amar Hanspal, we can see the possibility that smaller companies will at least be in the mix—because technological advancements are entering factories and permanently changing the way products are made.

“Intelligent automation, driven by software, is making manufacturing simpler, more transparent and more affordable than ever, and in doing so democratizing the process of making things for companies and individuals alike,” writes the CEO of Bright Machines and one of the 30 smart manufacturing leaders we profiled in April.

In his column, Hanspal focuses in on Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW), a 50-person firm that develops advanced diagnostics devices for the world’s most infectious diseases. For patients living in remote parts of Africa, DRW’s toaster-sized SAMBA (Simple AMplification Based Assay) testing device has cut the time it takes to get HIV test results from two or three months to less than two hours.

This, of course, allows life-saving treatment for a person with HIV to begin much faster. So it is easy to imagine the Zimbabwean in the photo—who is shown providing a blood sample for rapid diagnosis via DRW’s SAMBA device—appreciating the fact that the prettiest songs on earth are sung by the littlest birds.

To get to this enviable place, DRW implemented an adaptive robotic system from Bright Machines called a microfactory. It handles the delicate assembly of the SAMBA’s nucleic acid test.

Now armed with intelligent automation, DRW recently rolled out a rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 across England—a test healthcare providers can complete at the point of care in less than 90 minutes.

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