The Philippines, being an archipelago with over 7,600 islands, is very familiar with many natural disasters. Two of the most common are typhoons and earthquakes.
Driven by his passion to help his countrymen address the issue with structural health and how it can help building administrators prepare for strong earthquakes and save more lives, Dr. Francis Aldrine Uy, a Filipino engineer, academic, and technopreneur decided it’s time to take the first step to a more resilient Philippines.
With his knowledge and expertise in his specialized field of Civil Systems, Francis has dedicated his life to combining scientific innovations and creative solutions to address the demand for structural health monitoring systems. Leading a team of equally passionate, creative, and diverse individuals, he believes in the power of collaboration, team work, and nonstop research for continuous development and progress in engineering solutions.
Pushing against limits and boundaries
Early on when the project was still in its initial phases, there were few interests gathered from investors and venture capitalists. So much support for the ideas that lead to discussions of partnership and funding down the line.
Not everything goes according to plan, however, so for a time, the ideas remained just that. But Francis is not the type to give in to stress and pressure. Armed with proof of concepts and documentation, he turned to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its technology commercialization program with the help of his alma mater where he also serves as the Dean for the School of Civil, Environmental and Geological Engineering (CEGE), the Mapua University. Mapua is a premier engineering and technological school in the Philippines. Acquiring funding support from the DOST with the help of the school, USHER (Universal Structural Health Evaluation and Recording System) Technologies Inc. was born.
Becoming building “doctors”
A structural health monitoring device responds to dangerous structural changes. It also helps improve reliability of the structure and in managing its overall life cycle. Over time, it has added features, one of which is to gauge the effect of ground movement on the structure and predict the seismic performance of infrastructures. This way, the building can be evacuated and retrofitted before any untoward incident happens.
When vibrations and other factors affect a building because of changes in ground movement, the structural health monitoring system can detect them and provide analytics to structural engineers and other decision makers on building safety and management. These vibrations are coined with the term “heartbeats” and its engineers are called the structural health doctors. They will then decide whether to reinforce some parts of the structure or, in dire circumstances, evacuate the occupants.
Surprisingly, despite the fact that the country is along the Pacific Ring of Fire and that earthquakes are next to normal, there aren’t any local suppliers for structural health instruments. Even if the local government requires each building owner and developer to have the instrument in their properties before they can have permits, there is no local manufacturer but all foreign made with limited capability and features.
It’s time that someone manufactures a local instrument for structural health. After all, nobody knows Philippine buildings, conditions and laws well but a local.
Once funding was secured, it was a matter of taking the product to the market and encouraging developers and building owners to support local. It was very hard to compete with international, tried, and tested brands.
But Francis always loves challenges.
The journey towards sustainability amidst the pandemic
In recent years, more and more government agencies and departments offered support and have agreed on partnerships with USHER. In September of 2019, the brand finally had a grand launch in one of the country’s most prestigious venues, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
The grand event was attended by business partners, investors, government agencies, and important decision makers in several industries and fields. Many project collaborations were planned, support that were pledged, and interested parties have set up meetings with the team. Indeed, it was a great way to cap the event.
A few months later, the world was put to a standstill because of a global pandemic. Covid19 spread like wildfire on a hot, dry, summer day in the desert at a very accelerated rate. Before we know it, all countries are on lockdown, all borders are closed, and lives are being taken by the millions.
Francis and the USHER team decided to help create solutions to rise up to the demands of the new normal.
The Go Clean Chamber was created. Since the Covid19 virus spreads through contact of individuals with contaminated surfaces like garments, footwear, and even human body parts, the Go Clean Chamber disinfects both in-bound and out-bound personnel trac in building structures. It is a low-cost mobile disinfection and anti-coronavirus chamber.
Another one on the pipeline is a UV ray scanner called Go Clean GIZMO for documents, money bills, and other paperworks. Working like an x-ray machine, the Go Clean GIZMO disinfects the documents by scanning them with UV rays, effectively killing any virus or bacteria that attach themselves in the papers.
There is also the HOCLOMAC system, a stand-alone, onsite generator of hypochlorous acid used for disinfecting. It can be integrated to any misting chambers and other misting systems in public and private spaces. It can produce 1.5 gallons of hydrochloric solution in less than 5 minutes.
Now, as the world slowly comes back from its forced hiatus in 2020 and people are adjusting to the new normal, with it comes new challenges to face and new goals to achieve.
Through his guidance and tutelage, the USHER team continuously researches on effective ways to provide technological solutions to the new situations we encounter everyday. Francis redefined progress and innovation and made it synonymous to helping people, brands, and the government adjust to the new normal.
From its humble beginnings as an academic project to its current position as one of the country’s leading brands, Francis and USHER has continued the journey to progress and conquering new heights in creative and innovative solutions.
“It’s always been about making it more convenient and easier for our people and professionals to work together and help the government create a more sustainable and a more resilient Philippines.”. Dr. Francis Aldrine Uy, CVO and Founder of USHER Technologies, Inc.
“Dr. Francis Uy is an engineer, academic, and creative civil systems solutions advocate from the Philippines who leads USHER Technologies Inc., an technology solutions company that brings focus to the importance of structural health monitoring and other DRRM techs as a means to save more lives in cases of unfortunate natural events.”