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Field Ready: local production of humanitarian supplies

Field Ready works with partners to manufacture essential items where they are needed, building community capacity and resilience

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

We've created a User Experience Map for our project idea of kits for clinics, which will give local medical staff and relief workers everything they need to make useful items themselves. This is attached. We've also written up our prototyping and results from recent weeks, which is how we have secured part of our Beneficiary Feedback (a third party doctor used a prototype kit during a trip to Nepal). This is also attached. Also we spoke to 4 humanitarian sector experts to get feedback.

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

Taking one of our manufacturing techniques, 3D printing, and making a reproducible “kit” which gives people everything they need to make useful items themselves, particularly items needed by clinics.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Field Ready is a humanitarian NGO, enabling manufacture of essential items where they are needed.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

The idea takes our main work, local manufacturing, and scales it up by giving others everything they need to make items themselves. It builds on our existing work and knowhow, specifically around 3D printing for small clinics, and we ran a first, early stage prototype Nepal trial in April 2017.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

Clinics and health posts in many areas can suffer from unreliable supply chains, or disruption due to natural disasters or conflict, and during humanitarian crises clinics may not have enough items of the types that are needed. This means sickness and injuries may be untreatable, or poorly treated.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We plan to develop the “kit” equipment&instructions, and continue with testing (in Nepal and elsewhere) through 2017. We will also evaluate different business models by which kits can be deployed and used in different countries and contexts. In 2018 we will develop more item designs which can be made, further quality check and refine the kits, and run larger scale trials with partners in Nepal and elsewhere. By 2019 we will have a standard kit, being rolled out in large numbers in many places.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

The Field Ready team are implementing this idea, and we welcome additional partners who can support field trials and market tests in new locations and contexts. Our team is a global mix of experienced designers, engineers and humanitarians, and we work with partners on the ground in each location.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Collaborate with others in the sector

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We measure the numbers of kits in use, number of countries/contexts where they are used, number of different organisations using kits; number of different items that can be made, with designs that are tested, appropriate and shared openly. We would also like to see: translations of instructions; videos showing others using kits successfully; recording system to automatically monitor each kit and track items made; evidence that business models for wider roll-out are viable, and partner interest.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

We talked to 4 expert humanitarians, who advised us to align with relief initiatives in cash programming, livelihoods and environment, and to focus on quality and testing. We completed a field trial, a visiting doctor took a prototype 3d printing kit to test. Full results attached – we are now improving the instructions, evaluating new item designs and exploring support business models.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

We need to continue to seek out the best business models for this idea, both in terms of local business models to support distribution, use and support of health clinic item manufacturing kits, and for scaling up this work to multiple countries and contexts. We are also researching and testing how to offer appropriate quality, reliability and safety of what can be made. This includes exploring engineering standards, aid agency/NGO procurement needs, and seeking funding and support for this.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

How does this fit with other Field Ready activities? The 3D printing kit for clinics is an extension of our aid through making, and is the first project where we are taking previous work and packaging it up for larger scale adoption. As an example: many aid agencies in Nepal are working to supply equipment to remote health posts, who lost a lot of their supplies in the earthquake. Procurement processes to do this can take over 4 months. Field Ready ran a project to develop 3D designs for basic medical items so they can be made in the field. Whilst redesigning the items for printing, we worked with local medical practitioners and got their input into the design process. Our new non-surgical kidney tray design is more stable and harder to knock over, whilst retaining a curve so it’s easy to scoop implements out. How does Field Ready decide where to work? We are open to good opportunities where appropriate partners are available, where there’s a need on the ground for items we are able to make; priorities now are Jordan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. We carry out an assessment using humanitarian best practices before deciding, to make sure there’s a need (and that we won’t be damaging local markets by creating items already available). How are materials handled? We generally bring in 3D printer filament along with the printers when starting a program. This ensures we are able to make things and that the filament is of a good enough quality. The advantage of 3D printing remains - that the local clinic can decide what items are most needed and make those in the quantities required. We also use filament and plastic recycling techniques, although these are not suitable for manufacturing some medical items because they are not sufficiently sterile. We are exploring methods to sterilise items in the field (such as autoclaving) and also improvements to recycling systems. We are exploring the potential to manufacture 3DP filament in country. Local raw materials supply could be a microfranchise business for a local entrepreneur to run, selling 3D printer filament and so on to clinics, hospitals, and other sites. Why hasn’t Field Ready made more items so far? Much of our work to date has been pioneering, demonstrating that it is possible to 3D print items in remote areas. We’ve created a range of item designs to meet user needs, as well as testing those from third parties. Our proof of concept work has generally not focussed on large numbers of items (although there are exceptions, such as the cookstove example in the comments), and our Bridge Builder challenge idea is part of new activities this year to scale up manufacturing and make it easier for more people to make things, by giving them the means of production. What about when there’s a need for a large volume of items? 3D printing is great for giving flexibility to communities - our kits offer a range of designs so they can make what they need. With support, from local specialists or remotely, custom designs can be made, for instance to fix high value assets which need an impossible to obtain spare part. Our focus in this program is on local small scale needs. When larger volumes are needed, several sites with 3D printers can each make a part, or patterns can be 3D printed for use in low-tech mass-manufacture processes such as hand-powered injection molders, sand or silicon casting. Why is (philanthropic) resourcing needed to bootstrap the idea? Whilst humanitarian sector funding is often available to make and deliver items, we are looking to scale this up by giving easy to use kits to non-specialists, so they can make items themselves in more places. Some R&D work is needed to ensure our kits are reliable and that the items we can make are safe and suitably robust, meeting necessary standards. Aid funding generally doesn’t pay for such work, and whilst we are still proving out the business models for roll-out we are not in a position to attract social investment capital. How will wider roll-outs of kits be resourced? Adoption of our clinic kits could be funded by development and aid grant funding for health care, or for livelihoods (supporting local entrepreneurs, bringing skills and opportunities for young unemployed people), in humanitarian/development contexts. Once a local business model is demonstrated, social investment in a franchising scheme might be viable. Our items are often cheaper overall than imported alternatives. There’s a potential support business model for local technicians who support kits with initial training, ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting, and possibly custom design work. We prototyped that in our recent trial in Nepal, where we are continuing to work with local entrepreneur Ram to find the most appropriate method of doing this locally. He is a registered distributer for UP! printers and filament and has already imported both into the country.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

We've been working on our idea since the first submission, and we've learned a lot and heard some good ideas from those we've engaged with. During the beneficiary feedback phase, we ran a field trial in Nepal and spoke to 4 humanitarian sector experts. In the expert phase, we were challenged on some aspects of how our idea will be resourced, both today and longer term, and around the specific focus of this idea and how we'll roll it out to more communities. These are great questions and very much aligned with feedback we have had from other sector experts, and we hope we have now addressed them here (including in the above "Improve" section response, where we answer the most commonly-asked questions based on our recent learning, tests and investigations). We've also created some further user experience maps to explore different ways our kits could be deployed, in terms of how they are used in country and the business models that would support large scale roll out and adoption of kits. As a team it feels like our idea is much clearer than it was, and our prototyping is helping us improve our understanding of needs and our implementation of kits to help small clinics get the supplies they need too. Building on our Nepal trial, we are planning to talk to more doctors with experience of work in low resource environments and particularly humanitarian situations, to learn from them what kinds of items are useful for their particular work, and their attitudes and knowhow around alternative item sources or types, and things like what standards of sterility they find are appropriate. We’re considering an online survey which might help us reach folks with different experiences, and individuals who could help us shape that and ask the right questions would be great contacts. We’re also always keen to meet others with experience of repeatable manufacturing in low resource environments so we can learn from their work - both 3D printing and other techniques, whether their projects succeeded or not.

Why? There are acute humanitarian problems and areas vulnerable to catastrophe globally. The number of forcibly displaced people is as high as it has ever been. Aid workers who provide relief use old methods, such as antiquated supply chains, and have yet to take full advantage of the innovations available and those yet to come. People in need often have to wait months or even years for essential supplies to be available, when supplies could be made locally cheaply and quickly.

Who? Field Ready is a diverse team of dedicated professionals with a passion to help others. We have deep skills in design, engineering, humanitarian aid, leadership and management.

What? We make useful relief items and supplies such as those used in medicine, water and sanitation, shelter and search/rescue. We train others in how to make useful items. We innovate, and motivate aid agencies to work in more efficient and effective ways, to create a transformation in the way aid is provided worldwide.

Where? Countries and areas experiencing disasters, recovery, situations of protracted human displacement and areas needing disaster risk reduction. Haiti, Myanmar, Nepal, Kenya, Syria and the US are examples of where we work.

When? Right now.

Today’s humanitarian supply chains are cumbersome, expensive and often fail to deliver results. Recent innovations have only provided incremental improvements. Field Ready’s approach is different because it focuses on making supplies where they are needed. In the process, we train local people to solve their own problems and work with groups to ultimately transform the way aid is delivered. We have proven the concept using local manufacturing of supplies in the US, Haiti, Nepal, Kenya, and Syria. We have a wide range of partnerships, and are now extending our work in other humanitarian situations, field testing new manufacturing methods and sharing our designs and learning. Field Ready achieves scalable impact by pioneering new techniques and demonstrating that local production of humanitarian items is possible, and delivers appropriate supplies more quickly and more cheaply than the alternatives. We amplify our work through sharing information online, and driving innovation in large aid agencies and international NGOs, to transform how they deliver aid around the world.

Our method

Field Ready meets humanitarian need in some of the most difficult places on earth. Our first objective is to make – fabricate and manufacture – useful items, such as medical and water-related devices, where they are needed. We do this by working with local communities and relief workers to identify real needs on the ground, then solving problems through design and local manufacturing. We create, share and reuse designs for essential humanitarian supplies, which can be made anywhere, often using local or recycled materials, and we actually make things and help others make them, too. We've shown that it's possible to use 3D printers in remote and challenging settings, enabling local people to identify their needs and make the items they require themselves. It's not just digital manufacturing though - we also use low tech ways to make things, with understandable instructions for reliable results.

We train local people and aid workers to design and make their own solutions. Finally, we develop and share these innovations, for anyone to participate. We do this by sharing designs, instructions and training materials online, and connecting people so they can collaborate. All this makes humanitarian aid more efficient and effective, providing supplies to people in the most challenging circumstances, and empowering them with new skills to recover and rebuild.

Field Ready demonstrates that new technologies can work in the most remote and difficult areas; if it possible to use digital manufacturing to make useful items there, it can be done anywhere. But it is far more than just technology – an ecosystem is needed, which respects the complex social, cultural, economic and technical aspects of a humanitarian crisis. This is why we work so much in partnership with others, especially aid agencies and international NGOs who help us work appropriately in these settings.

Results to date

We've developed our process and knowhow by working in different humanitarian settings since our early work 3D printing in Haiti in 2014. We've extended to new manufacturing techniques such as injection molding, and new kinds of relief item, such as search and rescue equipment. We've grown our team and both our in country work and our R&D activities in the last year.

We have made medical supplies (such as umbilical cord clamps designed together with nurses in a Haitian clinic), and replacement parts for equipment, which is important in developing countries where items, such as medical equipment, are often second-hand donations. When they break, it is hard or impossible to get new components, as the equipment is often obsolete. For example, Field Ready made new corners for hospital baby warmers in Nepal, so they can be repaired and put back into use. Our new corner is stronger than the old ones which kept breaking, and is much better than the sharp edges or duct tape repair otherwise used. We have also worked to repair water pipe networks connecting displaced families living in camps in Nepal, and have made and sold 430 robust cookstove control knobs which were needed so that quake-affected areas could get unbroken and safe cooking equipment.

We have:

  • Demonstrated the Field Ready approach in multiple countries and contexts, with a range of partners
  • Made thousands of useful items in the field using a variety of manufacturing techniques
  • Trained hundreds of people and helped many more
  • Developed many unique designs, often better, faster and cheaper when made locally than the alternatives

Field Ready were recognised as a “top five” innovation at the World Humanitarian Summit 2016, were a Classy Award finalist, were selected to take part in the Singularity University accelerator, and one of our co-founders was honored as a White House “Champion of Change” for her work as a maker.

Working with local partners and communities

Field Ready deploys teams of designers, engineers and humanitarians, along with equipment such as 3D printers, into crisis situations. We partner with local communities and relief organizations to identify pressing problems, and create solutions to these together. We design items, if needed, (or download and reuse existing digital designs), then manufacture necessary items on site and on demand. Because our approach is based on the context in which we work, it is highly adaptable. The key is listening and learning. We employ a range of methods (such as participation and human-centered design) to ensure this happens.

We are passing on skills and knowledge to disaster-affected people and the aid workers who serve them. Training local people and relief workers to use manufacturing is a key part of our process. Importantly, our approach can be effective at enabling local people to solve their own problems through making, with online support and reusable designs. We have devised a set of curricula geared for the contexts in which we work, which we package for open sharing and reuse. When appropriate, we leave the manufacturing equipment and materials in the field for continued use. All this ensures a level of sustainability and is simply the right thing to do.

Local partners and local branches of international aid agencies are essential to enable us to work in a safe, effective and appropriate way in different humanitarian settings. We work with organisations including World Vision, Save The Children, and Oxfam.

Working with specialist partners and global communities

We are also working at a systemic level through our participation in the mechanisms of the humanitarian community. This is vital for our approach to gain widespread adoption. Part of this is ensuring our work is appropriate for different humanitarian needs and follows the way the sector works (for instance, following good coordination and ethical practices). We share our stories with aid agencies and help support and train those who could benefit from local production through humanitarian sector publications and events, to encourage them to adopt our ideas.

We also partner with universities on R&D, and with companies (especially those who produce manufacturing equipment and design sharing tools). We've learned that we cannot solve all the design challenges we encounter in the field ourselves, even with brilliant teams of engineers and designers on the ground. So we have formed a cross-sector community, “Humanitarian Makers,” made up of hundreds of technologists, designers and aid workers, and which is an increasingly useful forum to find solutions, share information, and find volunteers. Humanitarian Makers around the world provide remote design support to field teams who encounter problems they cannot solve quickly enough themselves. Through these connections, we are amplifying and further developing our existing work. For example, we are now field testing our first software app which accurately measures the sizes of pipe required in plumbing, and automatically generates the 3D model of the connector, ready to print, which was created by a university student team for us.

Field Ready innovation is faster

Today's practice: “Wait for items to arrive”. Our innovation is faster. In Nuwakot District Hospital, Nepal, a specialist part for a damaged power distribution panel needed to be replaced to restore power to a ward. It would have taken at least 6 weeks to arrive from Italy. Using computer aided design and plastic 3D printing, Field Ready designed and made a replacement in 7.5 hours – restoring power to the ward and positively impacting the care to its present and future patients. The part was still in use during a follow-up visit two months later. Re-using designs, local manufacturing and employing trained-up local people can reduce wait times further. During a visit to the remote Selang camp in Nepal, a Pinard Horn fetoscope design (developed in an earlier collaboration with Patan Hospital) was re-used and printed by a trained local staff member in 2 hours. Sourcing normally would have taken days. Our evidence demonstrates that, with the human and technological capacity in place, dramatic reductions in wait times can be replicated virtually wherever needs are identified.

Field Ready innovation is cheaper

Today's practice: “Spend a lot of funds”. Our innovation is cheaper. In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we made prosthetic hands at a fraction of the cost of traditionally-made items. Small disposable umbilical cord clamps, essential to reduce infant infection, if and when they are available on the market, typically cost $1 (about 80% of which is supply chain costs) and as much as $3. Our 3D printed version costs just $0.60 to make (including labour, materials and electricity). We are currently refining hand-powered injection moulding techniques for larger volume local production, helping us to reach economies of scale that make the overall costs relatively inexpensive as well.

Field Ready innovation is better

Today’s practice: “Do without”. Our innovation is better. In Syria, those involved in search and rescue use their hands to remove rubble from bombed housing to reach the people buried underneath. They lack basic rescue equipment. Working from Istanbul, we are designing air bags that can be made locally to lift large pieces of rubble safely. In Kathmandu, at a major private hospital, technicians have struggled to fix donated baby beds because of a lack of spare parts – resulting in unhygienic (even dangerous) solutions using wood and sheet metal. We 3D printed the replacement 16 parts to repair 5 beds, and they can now be used safely once more. A more subtle example is that communications between the valleys in Sindhupalchowk District can be a challenge. The capabilities exist, but are not resilient since ground stations fail. With a view to preparedness for future quakes, we helped make better and more accurate parts for antennas for low-orbit satellite connections; without them, people would again have to do without communications in the next response.

How you can help

We welcome makers, designers, engineers and humanitarians in our Humanitarian Makers community, where there are opportunities to help with rapid response and ongoing design and test challenges. It’s a great way to meet and work with people from all kinds of backgrounds, where ever you are in the world. We’re also always glad to meet potential partners in local areas with humanitarian responses we are assessing for potential projects, as this helps us choose places and ways to respond that most address local needs.  Success in the OpenIDEO Bridge Builder challenge would help us make new connections with volunteers and partners, and would also support us in opening conversations with new potential funders, and raising our profile (which helps us recruit partners, and secure resourcing).

How Field Ready is making aid better, faster and cheaper for people everywhere

The potential for scale is built into our approach in part because Field Ready is not focused on a particular technology, product type or geographic location. We are working toward a future where logistical needs are met where need arises; where communities in the most challenging circumstances after disaster, or in camps, can take control of their situation, manufacturing essential life-saving and life-sustaining supplies. Through access to advanced manufacturing equipment, useful information and skills, local people can be empowered to recover and rebuild, and to develop new economic opportunities. Ultimately, our route to scale is transforming aid agency procurement and logistics divisions, which we enable by demonstrating new technologies, and support through capacity building and innovation services, and by continuously demonstrating our credibility and effectiveness through actual on the ground relief work.

Explain your idea

Field Ready is transforming humanitarian supply chains, through local manufacturing, which creates appropriate supplies quickly and cheaply. Humanitarian logistics are costly, time consuming and inefficient. These logistics account for 60-80% of most aid budgets, and yet often supplies are not delivered when and where they are needed. Most innovations to date have focused on incremental improvements to the supply chain. Our approach is transformational because it bypasses most links in that chain by moving manufacturing directly where items are needed. Peace: Our work in humanitarian crises helps reduce the suffering of those affected by conflict. By giving local communities the skills, information and equipment they need to solve their own problems and make things they need, we increase their agency and resilience. Planet: By shortcutting traditional supply chains, making locally often with recycled materials, we help build a more sustainable and resilient future. Prosperity: Local skills and equipment help communities rebuild and recover after a disaster. The specific idea we are exploring through the Bridge Builder challenge is how small clinics (in remote and developing areas, refugee camps and communities affected by disasters) can make otherwise unavailable basic medical items themselves on site, using 3D printing.

Who Benefits?

If Field Ready innovation is successful and adopted by humanitarian aid agencies, we expect the following impacts: 1) Survivors of humanitarian disasters will get critical lifesaving supplies when, where, and how they are most needed, 2) humanitarian supply chains will ensure the most efficient and cost effective distribution of humanitarian supplies, to people in need including those in refugee camps and displaced people's camps, 3) disaster rehabilitation will be expedited and more cost efficient, and 4) communities devastated by disasters or displaced will be empowered (with knowledge, skills, and equipment) for economic growth and resilience.

How is your idea unique?

Unlike other aid organizations that emphasize technology, Field Ready is not focussed on a single manufacturing technique, product type or location, or “a solution looking for a problem.” Our approach is more multifaceted and far-reaching; we are changing how our sector works, and we focus on the problems we can solve practically. In addition to 3D printing, we use a range of manufacturing methods including injection molding, hand tools, and working with local inventors and manufacturers. Ultimately, we are developing an ecosystem, incorporating both people and technologies, with the power to transform aid supply delivery worldwide. We have an incredible team of highly skilled and experienced people including engineers, designers and humanitarians - all skills that are needed to make humanitarian items in the field safely and effectively. We have shown that our methods work in a variety of settings and are building credibility in the sector through ongoing in country relief work.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Field Ready is a 501(c)3, a charity incorporated in the USA. Our team consists of experienced humanitarians, designers and engineers. We are active and mobile around the world, including in Nepal, Syria, and are preparing programs in Jordan, South Sudan and Myanmar. Our operations hub is in Chicago, and we have an engineering hub in Cambridge, UK.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
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Attachments (8)

Field Ready User Experience Map - the MakerVan idea.pdf

A user experience map exploring an alternative model for kit deployment and adoption, based on expert feedback.

Additional information about our idea - Beneficiary Feedback phase.pdf

A little more information about our idea, the background, and the implementing team.

Prototyping the FR medical kit.pdf

The method and results of prototyping our medical items kit during recent weeks.

Medical items kit Experience Map.pdf

The User Experience Map for our idea for a kit to enable a clinic or health post to manufacture useful items themselves on site.

The Field Ready process.png

How to solve humanitarian problems - through learning and iterating!

Field Ready Methods.png

The means and methods of our work, inspired by the fields of relief, development, human-centred design, engineering, the maker movement, and manufacturing

Key elements of Field Ready approach.png

Key elements of the Field Ready approach, and how we are unique

How Field Ready adds value.png

How Field Ready makes humanitarian relief better, faster, and cheaper, in several dimensions


Join the conversation:

Photo of Georg Hoehne

Hey Everyone

I Think this approach to development is very unique and should be adopted widely. Especially taking into account that so much resources are wasted on logistical issues instead of where they are needed the most, which is on the ground!

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