Antivirus diversification – A successful case

5 June 2020

The ability of operating on several fronts and the innovative technological equipment have allowed the Florence-based company Everex to sustain the impact of Covid-19 emergency and to develop an expertise that will turn out to be precious in the future.
Everex Srl, founded in 1989, employs 65 people in its headquarters in Sesto Fiorentino, within the industrial district of Osmannoro. Just as most Italian enterprises, in the first months of 2020 it had to deal with all the problems caused by ARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Its management department turned out to be forward-looking. “As early as the 4th of March”, said CEO Lorenzo Balli, “and so even before the first Ministry decrees were published, we had decided to introduce a behavioural and safety code. Our goal was to minimise the possibilities of infection.
We immediately worked to stop face-to-face meetings and encourage smart working, while for all the activities that could not be done remotely we introduced split shifts, in order to minimise the simultaneous presence of people in the same area and to reduce employment density by half, while maintaining the same work spaces”. Another equally important measure has involved the immediate provision of all laboratories with masks and hand sanitizers, arranging the sanitization of environments every day.

A strategic choice
The Tuscan enterprise operates in several fields and it was thus forced by institutions to temporarily give up to some of them, while treasuring the skills acquired in its more than thirty-year-long experience. “Everex had to close one of its main work branches, the one of vending machines, for pharmacies and tobacco shops, which was not considered as an essential activity according to the Ministry decree dated March 25th, 2020. We thus made every effort to redeploy a big part of this division’s workforce to the production of medical devices”, the other leading branch of the Florentine company. The sanitary emergency entailed a significant increase in demand for this sector. In a short time, the company registered a 30% increase in demand compared to the standards of the same period in normal conditions. “In such a difficult time for the country”, stated Lorenzo Balli, “we wanted to make ourselves available – thanks to our project and 3D printing departments – for the realization of collectors and valves for breathing helmets used by Covid-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit. All this was made possible thanks to the cooperation with Mares, an international brand for diving equipment, and with TS Nuovamacut, specialised in CAD solutions and industrial 3D printers. The order was rapidly carried out, within 24 hours after starting-up the project, with full commitment by both the owners and the involved workforce”.

Experience sharpens our wits
First-hand experiences of executives and employees, having to take the appropriate anti-virus measures, inspired Everex to give life and shape to further innovation. “A few days after having started to wear masks, we realised how they could bring more than one problem and cause unpleasant skin irritations. This was an inspirational element, an intuition born just one day after the introduction of masks. We immediately got down to work to solve the problem and we developed a line of bands to tie the protective masks around the head and not around the ears, managing to avoid discomfort and skin reddening”. Again, the access to efficient technology for additive manufacturing in our department represented an authentic keystone. “Even in such a circumstance”, pointed out Balli, “our 3D printer was extremely helpful, allowing the opportunity to analyse the effectiveness of the product already on the same day. After having made the first required adjustments, we created ten prints for exclusive internal use. Afterwards, we let friends and acquaintances, working in hospitals as doctors or nurses, try them. They approved them and appreciated their performance. In the middle of April we had already delivered another free supply of 500 pieces. Our bands can be sterilized using normal sanitising products, so they are infinitely reusable”.

Production and reconversion
The pandemic – or “the unexpected apocalypse”, as defined by Stefano Ferrari, responsible for the research department of Siderweb, a siderurgical community from Brescia – allowed Everex to provide continuity to projects started-up in the past but made topical again by the situation. So, the company managed to fully enhance its expertise for diagnostic solutions. “Another area to which we have particularly committed in the last weeks”, told Balli in the middle of last April, “has been the reconversion of a project called SKYLAB 752. We developed it a few years ago and we have full ownership. It is used for serological screening tests, especially for the detection of IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies developed by the human immunity system in the presence of diseases like Covid-19. With just one SKYLAB, thanks to the high throughput, it is possible to test up to 1000 patients per day for the screening of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody. Soon, we are going to set up four installations at the laboratories of USL centres in Tuscany and one installation at the Spallanzani Institute in Rome”. In light of its resilience and responsiveness, Lorenzo Balli’s enterprise, which has constantly been growing in the recent years, can now look at the future with a certain amount of faith, despite difficulties. “At the beginning of this crisis – it is pointless to hide – we also had negative feelings. Today, however, we can and have to change our minds. While always being cautious about the situation’s evolution, we believe that we can look at our future with careful optimism. While always being cautious about the situation’s evolution, we believe that we can look at our future with careful optimism. We stopped all the vending machines activities, except for research and development which went on working to promptly provide our customers with innovative and cutting-edge solutions compared to those of our competitors. We strongly believe that companies could take advantage of such crises to invest and innovate. Getting ready for the inevitable restart is crucial and it will bring benefits to all those who will take a proactive approach to the customers and the market”.