July 3, 2020 - Marketing a new product in the middle of a public health crisis is no easy task. Ionic Mechatronics, a company that specializes in the creation of high-quality equipment, took on this challenge to create a product that would help their clients stay in business. They created Therm-Assure in partnership with Synaptic Technologies (Synaptic Technologies is a member of the Ionic Technology group).
Ionic Mechatronics has been in operation since 1999 and won company of the year (51+ employees) at the Northern Ontario Business Awards in 2015. Their headquarters is located in Sudbury, Ontario but they also have various locations across Ontario and Chile.
Ionic Mechatronics is known for their innovation and how they changed the landscape for players in the heavy machinery industry. Specifically, the company builds control systems, special purpose machines and complete automation systems for metals, mining, and mineral processing. They also support various other industries including oil and gas, pulp and paper, and the automotive industry.
When an unprecedented event such as a pandemic hits, a company’s first response is to figure out how to keep their doors open. Since Ontario announced the state of emergency in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been able to work from home. For others, however, it was crucial that they still attend work. As most of Ionic Mechatronics, clients have the ability to work from home or are considered essential businesses, they got their team together in order to see what they could do to help their clients stay open and in business. “If the customers keep their doors open, we can keep our doors open”, said the president of the company, Andre Dumais in an interview with the CBC.
Back in 2014, when the Ebola outbreak occurred, Ionic Mechatronics did a for the World Health Organization. This research was instrumental in helping them develop, Therm-Assure. Therm-Assure was created for industrial cellphones and designed to handle intense working environments and extreme conditions that certain industries face every day. The application scans an employee’s body temperature as soon as they arrive at work. It is a quick and efficient way to see if an employee’s body temperature is running high and if it is, the employee is sent home. Therm-Assure, analyzes data to look for irregularities in employee thermal scans by using an algorithm to identify which employee scan, differs from the norm. It has been a very useful tool during the COVID-19 pandemic as it allows individuals to continue to work, while also preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Since the lockdown, the company has been able to sell about half-dozen units and has interest from Northern Ontario mining companies, large retailers and the U.S. Air Force. In May alone, the app completed over 100,000 scans, which is incredible considering the product only launched a few weeks ago.
Ionic Mechatronics, has made it clear from the start that they did not create this product to profit from it. They stated that once they sell all their inventory and recover their development costs, the price of the product will be reduced. Priced at just enough to cover production and supply costs. Dumais said to CBC that it was not about making money, “I make money building equipment and machines, this is just a technology we were able to mobilize very, very quickly to help our customers keep their doors open.”
With so many uncertainties and stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies including Ionic Mechatronics are utilizing what is available to them for the greater good and to make employees feel more comfortable at work. Workers can breathe a little easier now, knowing that their employers have measures in place, to help keep them healthy and safe.
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Christina Fera is a Communication Officer at NPI.
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