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June 2020

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jun 2020

User-Generated Content (UGC) is getting more prominence for charity marketing and communications in the COVID-19 pandemic turbulence. Charities are struggling with funds and resources and have substantially reduced marketing and advertising spends. UGC helps charities in creating content to promote their brand, do fundraising, and advertise their accomplishments. Content created by those who were directly supported by charities is more authentic and relatable. When users share their stories they connect better with potential supporters. Following are the ways UGC benefits charities - (1) Marketing budgets are shrinking and UGC can provide a practical, cost-effective solution amid cuts, through users becoming charities' ambassadors online through videos, blogs, podcasts and social media posts. Hiring marketing agency is costly and current social distancing norms are restricting professionals to do location filming. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) has estimated that UK charities lost around £4 billion in the first three months of the COVID-19 crisis. According to COVID-19 Marketing Report by Influencer MarketingHub, more than 2/3 (69%) of brands expect they will reduce their advertising spend in 2020 due to COVID-19. 3/4 say they are posting less on their social media accounts as budgets shrink. (2) Charity's frontline staff, beneficiaries and volunteers are able to enhance their digital skills during lockdown. Charities are certainly keen to empower their workforce to support users in creating content. The 2020 Charity Digital Skills Report found that half of charities would welcome guidance on helping their staff adjust to change and stay motivated and productive amid the pandemic. (3) UGC is more authentic and relatable. Last year's Stackla survey found that the public believes UGC is 2.4 times more authentic compared to brand created content. However, too often the power of UGC is not being realised by marketers. The survey showed that marketers are 2.1 times more likely to believe that brand created content is more authentic compared to UGC. Read on...

Charity Digital: How and why User-Generated Content is changing charity marketing
Author: Joe Lepper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2020

COVID-19 impacted the retail sector and brought about unforeseen challenges. Recent study by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at University of Warwick (UK) and Blue Yonder examined how retailers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their survival. The study is based on the survey responses from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas and identified the human vulnerabilities across the supply chain and the need for future investment in flexibility, visibility and automation to improve future resilience. Some of the challenges that retailers faced are - unprecedented demand for some products while no demand for others; many stores were forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing; shift to online shopping wherever possible but it had its own operational challenges. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS - (1) The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply. (2) Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff. (3) Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments. Prof. Jan Godsell of University of Warwick says, '...only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response. With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand...' Wayne Snyder of Blue Yonder says, 'A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.' Read on...

University of Warwick News: New study provides insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19
Author: Alice Scott



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