COVID-19 industry leadership honours: The recap
10 awards recognized everything from excellence in PPE production to tech that detects the corona virus.
Manufacturers and their workforces are among the heroes that have battled the spread of COVID-19, and we at Canadian Manufacturing, PLANT and EP&T magazines recognized them with a virtual gala event Sept. 17, 2020 at 11 am ET.
The event honoured manufacturers from across Canada that went above and beyond to help out during a time of great need, by producing personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizer, ventilators and other crucial products and services to aid in the country’s pandemic response.
Businesses from across the country drastically altered their operations, bought new equipment and established new production shifts to accommodate the making of needed products. Others invented entirely new products, novel innovations to help detect the virus, stop its spread or kill it entirely. Healthcare product manufacturers meanwhile moved up production schedules and product launches, and found ways for their existing products to help combat COVID-19.
These manufacturers, their ingenuity, their tireless work ethic and their compassion, brought over 175 spectators together to celebrate their accomplishments.
10 awards were handed out, recognizing everything from excellence in PPE production to innovations that can detect the COVID-19 virus.
The event also featured a special welcome message from Navdeep Bains, federal minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, who has been at the forefront of the federal government’s COVID response and has worked hand-in-hand with manufacturers to ensure Canada is prepared to take on this virus.
Myers talked about how Canadian manufacturers confronted the COVID crisis, and the challenges that lie ahead for the manufacturing community as it faces post-pandemic recovery.
Read details on the finalists and winners below, and watch the full event here.
“Personal Protective Equipment – Small Manufacturer”
For the company with less than 50 employees that made the most significant or novel impact on Canada’s PPE supply
Niagara Falls, Ont.-based International Sew Right is a female-led firm that manufacturers and custom designs safety and work clothing.
When COVID hit, the company made masks for the healthcare industry from cotton, polycotton and fire-retardant fabrics.
With the initial launch of this initiative, 23,000 masks were donated in three weeks, reaching 32,000 by week six.
Other medical supplies produced by International Sew Right include hand sanitizers, gowns, lab coats and gloves.
Mirabel, Que.-based I3 Biomedical created a mask that can deactivate the COVID-19 virus, a result proven by a University of Toronto lab test.
For the past 10 years, the team of I3 BioMedical has focused all its resources to create the TrioMed Active Technology, a compound to transform general medical products into those which actively fight microbes at the molecular level by deactivating and/or killing them.
Masks infused with the TrioMed technology have been produced for both health care workers and the general public.
Lindsay, Ont.-based Whitney Plastics is a 60-year-old company that provides spray foam insulation and plastic packaging.
The firm pivoted to produce medical-grade plastic face shields when the pandemic first hit, at a rate of 10,000 per week.
Whitney Plastics has donated to hospitals and retirement homes.
Winner: I3 Biomedical
“Assisting the Sick”
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact through a product that helps those sick with the virus
Guelph, Ont.-based appliance manufacturer Danby jumped into action when COVID-19 struck and partnered with a number of other companies to produce 10,000 ventilators. Danby’s partners include ABS Friction, JMP Solutions, Crystal Fountain and Baylis Medical.
The ventilators are being sold to the federal government.
When the company’s propulsion testing was sidelined by COVID-19, Edmonton-based aerospace manufacturer Space Engine Systems custom designed and produced a ventilator that was brought to market in 21 days, completely developed and funded with internal resources.
The ventilator is for sale in Africa and will be licensed in a variety of global markets.
Following the success of its first model, Space Engine Systems is also developing another ventilator that can be operated remotely by clinicians, potentially reducing pathogen exposure.
Windsor, Ont.-based industrial automation firm Valiant Machine & Tool partnered with a handful of other companies to automate a manual, hand-powered ventilation tool, called a Bag Valve Mask device.
Valiant’s system is portable, provides alarms for low or high pressure, and can be remote controlled.
It is currently pending review by Health Canada
Winner: Space Engine Systems
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact through a product that helps detect or trace COVID-19
Toronto’s iLobby is a provider of enterprise visitor management solutions.
iLobby’s “Fever Check” technology uses a thermal camera to scan temperatures of visitors to potentially detect sickness.
iLobby can also integrate COVID-19 questionnaires into visitor sign-in protocols, and allow visitors to sign-in remotely with their smartphones, reducing unnecessary touch points.
The new COVID-specific features and hardware started rolling out to clients quickly from the onset of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Laipac Technology, a Toronto-based manufacturer of telehealth, GPS technology and smart watches, has developed a smartphone-based test device for COVID-19.
The firm’s “Look Spot” reader can clamp around any smartphone and use its camera to send images from a testing cassette to a cloud-based system for diagnosis. Results are available within 5 minutes and with 95% accuracy.
The solution will be commercially available this month.
A provider of industrial video camera systems from New Lowell, Ont., Provix released a temperature detection camera to the North American market in March 2020.
The firm worked with partners to convert an existing facial recognition camera to include a temperature sensor that would detect skin surface temperature. The video system also sends out an email alert whenever someone has a high temperature.
Provix has deployed its cameras across Canada and the US, in workplaces, medical facilities, retirement homes, mines, power plants, factories, places of worship and retail establishments.
“Personal Protective Equipment – Medium-sized Manufacturer”
For the company with between 50 and 200 employees that made the most significant or novel impact on Canada’s PPE supply
A Toronto manufacturer of textile products, International Custom Products (ICP), is manufacturing level 1 – 3 surgical isolation gowns, an item in short supply during the pandemic, along with face masks and face shields. All PPE is reusable.
ICP is now on track to have delivered 350,000+ face masks, face shields and isolation gowns to Greater Toronto Area hospitals and the Ontario government. The company has also been able to create or retain over 300 local jobs via its partner network.
An auto parts manufacturer in Shanty Bay, Ont., Molded Precision Components pivoted to make face shields with COVID-19 hit Canada back in March.
The firm has had purchase orders from the federal, Ontario and Alberta governments and is producing 450,000 units a day.
This initiative has prompted serious expansion at Molded Precision Components, and the firm has hired over 130 new team members to keep up with demand.
Vintex, a textile manufacturer in Mount Forest, Ont., has been producing fabric for isolation gowns during the pandemic.
Since April, Vintex has supplied materials to over a dozen Canadian companies. Their fabrics have been used to make over 600,000 reusable isolation gowns to help keep front line workers safe.
Winner: Molded Precision Components
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact through providing services to manufacturers, other businesses or the public
A Tiverton, Ont.-based company, Bruce Power provides nuclear power to one in three homes, hospitals, schools and businesses in Ontario and medical isotopes across the globe.
When COVID-19 struck, the firm went into an extra gear with a barrage of philanthropic efforts.
Bruce Power provided 1.7-million piece of PPE to more than 100 organizations, representing the largest private-sector donation of PPE in Canada.
The firm also partnered with other organizations on a ventilator development program, collected food bank donations, established isolation beds in recovery centres, and donated hand sanitizer, among other efforts.
REMAP, a Toronto-based technology accelerator, established a $60,000 COVID-19 Emergency Fund that helped accelerate projects that met the needs of the federal government’s pandemic response plan.
REMAP has enabled the production of PPE, sanitizer, ventilators and software to help fight the pandemic, by aiding companies like Myant, Microbonds, Starfish Medical, Celestica and others.
Six S Partners, a Waterloo, Ont.-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) consulting firm, helped two Ontario manufacturers, Innovative Automation and Eclipse Automation, to establish PPE and ventilator production.
Spartan Bioscience, the maker of a portable COVID-19 test device, is also a Six S client.
In the above cases, Six S implemented ERP systems on very fast timelines.
Winner: Bruce Power
“Sanitization – Hygiene”
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact on Canada’s supply of hand or surface sanitizer
Hunter Amenities, a multinational cosmetic and beauty products manufacturer, pivoted to hand sanitizer when COVID hit, and it did so quickly, with a product that is not scented or alcohol-based.
Within just a few weeks, the firm obtained Health Canada and FDA approval and was listed by several large retailers, including Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Staples, Grand and Toy, and others.
The company used in-depth analysis and lean studies to shift production processes and increase efficiencies, allowing for a large scale operation to keep up with demand.
A new division of Delta, B.C.-based biodiesel producer Consolidated Biofuels, Meadow Hygiene was established to produce hard surface sanitizers and commercial disinfectant.
The company switched the startup of a new plant to manufacture its COVID relief products and reconfigured operations at great expense. It is now selling across B.C. and Canada.
Troubled Monk, a brewery in Red Deer, Alta., made its first batch of hand sanitizer on March 20.
In addition to getting its pandemic fighting solution up and running quickly, the company had to implement a night shift to keep up with demand and add staff as well.
Troubled Monk is selling its sanitizer online, in its tap room and has provided its product to grocery store chains, hardware store chains, municipalities, clothing stores, and oil and gas companies. This is in addition to donations to non-profits and other groups in need.
Winner: Hunter Amenities
“Machines Italia – COVID Hero”
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact on the pandemic using Italian-made machinery, presented by Machines Italia.
Machines Italia is a project within the Italian Trade Commission responsible for connecting North American manufacturers with Italian-made machinery. It has a number of offices across North America, including in Toronto and Montreal.
Machines Italia works to support Canadian Manufacturers and craft long lasting partnerships between Italian and Canadian companies.
Winner: Forty Creek Distillery Ltd. (Campari Canada)
After quickly obtaining the required COVID-19 site license from Health Canada, Grimsby, Ont.’s Forty Creek Distillery produced and donated high-alcohol hand sanitizer to St Catharine’s General Hospital, Red Cross Niagara and other community and health organizations.
The firm also donated high-strength alcohol to other local distillers to support their own creation of high-alcohol hand sanitizer, plus made a cash donation to the Bartenders Benevolent Fund to help support hospitality workers, one of the industries most impacted by the pandemic.
“Sanitization – Innovation”
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact through an innovative and cutting edge product that facilitates sanitization, disinfection or cleaning.
Guelph, Ont.’s EnvisionSQ manufactures outdoor and indoor pollution filters that eliminate harmful compounds.
Since the pandemic hit, that technology has been put to work killing viruses, in the form of a semi-permanent disinfectant that can stick to virtually any surface.
When EnvisionSQ’s disinfectant is sprayed on a surface, it kills bacteria and viruses on contact, then, when it dries, it creates a clear, self-sanitizing coating that keeps on killing for weeks on end. It also receives an extra boost of disinfection every time it’s exposed to light.
Independent lab tests proved it can kill the COVID-19 virus, as well as a range of other germs.
The company has completed a pilot production run, secured suppliers and are now waiting on Health Canada approval.
A Cambridge, Ont. healthcare product manufacturer, Prescientx fast-tracked development and manufacturing of a variety of different COVID fighting technologies.
These include a grocery disinfector, an N95 mask disinfector, disinfection robots, an indoor air disinfector, a disinfection cabinet for hospital supplies, an airport baggage disinfection systems and other innovations.
The company has expanded its target market from health care to a myriad of different industries across the economy.
Estevan, Sask.-based SaniQuest Solutions was started as a division of heavy machinery firm Conquest Equipment in April 2020 in response to the pandemic.
The team designed from the ground up, sourced parts and prototyped its first hand wash station in just two weeks.
The units are fully self-contained and do not require any water or electrical connections and can provide 70+ hand washes per refill.
The company now has several different hand wash station models, sanitizer dispenser stands, and is producing a high volume of units on a highly automated production line.
“Personal Protective Equipment – Large Manufacturer”
For the company with more than 200 employees that made the most significant or novel impact on Canada’s PPE supply.
The Canadian Shield was founded in March 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Kitchener, Ont.-based educational technology company InkSmith decided to pivot its operations and begin producing medical face shields.
Within the first few weeks of launching, The Canadian Shield was able to donate 20,000 face shields to frontline healthcare workers across Ontario, and has donated 750,000 face shields to teachers across the province.
The company has signed a contract with the federal government to produce 10 million units to be distributed to healthcare facilities across the country.
The Canadian Shield has also launched face shields for children, as well as face masks.
Canadian clothing heavyweight Canada Goose has been manufacturing and donating hospital gowns and scrubs.
The company won contracts for 1.5 million units of PPE federally, 400,000 units in Quebec, 260,000 units in Ontario and 100,000 in Manitoba.
It is now producing up to 100,000 units of PPE per week, with plans to deliver over 2 million, at cost.
Canada Goose has also donated 20,000 units.
GM Canada converted a section of its Oshawa Operations into a space capable of making masks on a large scale.
The automaker received its Medical Device Establishment License on April 22, and in just over three weeks, sourced materials, built a clean room, installed the required equipment, and in partnership with Unifor, recalled and trained the employees to produce the masks.
On May 26, the federal government contracted GM Canada to provide 10 million face masks over the next year at cost. Approximately 60 workers on two shifts of production are currently producing around a million masks a month, and to-date, three million masks have been shipped.
Winner: The Canadian Shield
“Ultimate COVID hero”
For the company that made the most significant or novel impact overall, through the scope of its efforts, the ingenuity displayed during its process, the challenges it had to overcome, and the lasting difference it made in spite of those challenges. This award has been chosen from category winners.
Winner: The Canadian Shield
All of the winners will have profiles on their solutions published both online and in print in Canadian Manufacturing, PLANT and EP&T.
The Canadian Shield, as our Ultimate COVID Hero, will also have a feature-length story written about their solution, to be published in all three magazines.