Available studies and reports, as well as real-time experiences, attest to profound, extensive, long-lasting effects on the supply chain caused by the pandemic. It is thus paramount to rethink the supply chain for medication and health care supplies to build a more resilient and adaptable management process. Data obtained from the NHS portal monthly reports from January 2017 to August 2020 – indicates that at the hospital level the impact was felt the most on the scheduling of medical appointments and prescriptions. Two forecasting methods were selected for this study: Simple Linear Regression and Holt-Winters with the trend and additive seasonality. There was a change in the behavior of hospital patients in the first year of COVID-19 pandemics. This change was shown in two main indicators, the number of hospital consultations and medication expenses. This changed behavior resulted in a decrease in demand for scheduled hospital services, 1.9M less than would be expected under normal conditions, and a foreseeable increase of €432M in the consumption of medicines in the last quarter of 2020, €103M more than in the same period. from the previous year.
Nowadays, environmental concerns are deeply rooted in our society. This growing concern is reflected in the strategies implemented by organizations, which are increasingly focused on eco-friendly strategies, not only for its strategic aspect but also for its social responsibility. Therefore, a bus manufacturing company and an automotive company, both located in the north of Portugal, followed this trend by acting in an extremely important area, electric mobility. Since the market is becoming increasingly competitive in these areas it is necessary to ensure the ability of the organization to adapt to its volatility and the efficiency of its processes, in which logistics flows play an important role. It is within the scope of internal logistical flows and processes that this work, developed at the automotive company, in the chassis production line for electric buses, is inserted. The main objective of this project is the continuous improvement of logistics processes, using Lean tools. Firstly, it was necessary to perform a diagnosis and to map the current state of the logistics processes of the electric chassis line, to identify the existing problems and prioritize them in terms of urgency. Based on the Lean philosophy and its inherent tools, such as Standard Work, 5S, Kaizen philosophy and Visual Management, several improvements were presented and implemented, to mitigate the problems that were identified. With the implementation of these improvements in the picking operations, more specifically the picking of the material for the picking boxes, a 44.6% reduction of the time spent on the operation was obtained. Regarding the supply of material to the production line, the duration of this logistic process was reduced by 18.4%.
This work presents an innovative ultra-sensitive biosensor having the Spike protein on carbon-based screen-printed electrodes (SPEs), for monitoring in point-of-care antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, a very important tool for epidemiological monitoring of COVID-19 infection and establishing vaccination schemes. In an innovative and simple approach, a highly conductive support is combined with the direct adsorption of Spike protein to enable an extensive antibody capture. The high conductivity was ensured by using carboxylated carbon nanotubes on the carbon electrode, by means of a simple and quick approach, which also increased the surface area. These were then modified with EDC/NHS chemistry to produce an amine layer and undergo Spike protein adsorption, to generate a stable layer capable of capturing the antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in serum with great sensitivity. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy was used to evaluate the analytical performance of this biosensor in serum. It displayed a linear response between 1.0 pg/mL and 10 ng/mL, with a detection limit of ∼0.7 pg/mL. The analysis of human positive sera containing antibody in a wide range of concentrations yielded accurate data, correlating well with the reference method. It also offered the unique ability of discriminating antibody concentrations in sera below 2.3 μg/mL, the lowest value detected by the commercial method. In addition, a proof-of-concept study was performed by labelling anti-IgG antibodies with quantum dots to explore a new electrochemical readout based on the signal generated upon binding to the anti-S protein antibodies recognised on the surface of the biosensor. Overall, the alternative serologic assay presented is a promising tool for assessing protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 and a potential guide for revaccination.
The electrochemical performance of MnO2 electrode material is limited by its poor electrical conductivity and cationic-protonic diffusion. In this work, we introduce the preparation of a novel h-BN/β-MnO2 nanocomposite as superior electrode materials for extremely promising supercapacitors. The phase, surface morphologies and the internal atomic structures of the nanocomposite were analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscope (TEM). The electrochemical performance including cyclic voltammetry (CV), galvanostatic charge/discharge (GCD) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was conducted under three-electrode system. The h-BN doped β-MnO2 nanobelts composite electrode displayed a specific capacitance of 578.4F g⁻¹ at a current density of 0.5 mA cm⁻² (∼0.36 A g⁻¹) and retained nearly 97.1 % capacitance even after 5000 cycles.
This study explores the configurations of people management practices in micro-firms and their relation with entrepreneurial orientation and firm performance in a four-year window. Based on the ability-, motivation- and opportunity-focused practices framework, we identify configurations of HRM practices used in micro-firms and, in conjugation with entrepreneurial orientation, how they affect employee growth and net income. We analyzed data collected from 114 micro-firm owners combined with firm objective performance measures using Multiple Correspondence Analysis and Cluster Analysis. Results show a taxonomy of three configurations of HRM practices associated with different entrepreneurial orientation strategic postures in micro-firms: “Financial centric HRM practices”, “Operations centric HRM practices”, and “People centric HRM practices”. We assume that configurational methods can help uncover the complexity of the interplay between HRM practices and strategic postures on micro-firm performance. This study contributes to the literature in micro-firms by revealing effective people-related managerial practices on performance.
Introduction It is estimated that around 50% of cancer patients require Radiotherapy (RT) at some point during their treatment, hence Therapeutic Radiographers/Radiation Therapists (TR/RTTs) have a key role to play in patient management. It is essential for TR/RTTs to keep abreast with new technologies and continuously develop the digital skills necessary for safe RT practice. The RT profession and education is not regulated at European Union level, which leads to heterogeneity in the skills developed and practised among countries. This study aimed to explore the white and grey literature to collate data on the relevant digital skills required for TR/RTTs practice. Methods An exhaustive systematic search was conducted to identify literature discussing digital skills of TR/RTTs; relevant grey literature was also identified. A thematic analysis was performed to identify and organise these skills into themes and sub-themes. Results 195 digital skills were identified, organised in 35 sub-themes and grouped into six main themes: (i) Transversal Digital Skills, (ii) RT Planning Image, (iii) RT Treatment Planning, (iv) RT Treatment Administration, (v) Quality, Safety and Risk Management, and (vi) Management, Education and Research. Conclusion This list can be used as a reference to close current gaps in knowledge or skills of TR/RTTs while anticipating future needs regarding the rapid development of new technologies (such as Artificial Intelligence or Big Data). Implications for practice It is imperative to align education with current and future RT practice to ensure that all RT patients receive the best care. Filling the gaps in TR/RTTs skill sets will improve current practice and provide TR/RTTs with the support needed to develop more advanced skills.
Color comparison is a key aspect in many areas of application, including industrial applications, and different metrics have been proposed. In many applications, this comparison is required to be closely related to human perception of color differences, thus adding complexity to the process. To tackle this, different approaches were proposed through the years, culminating in the CIEDE2000 formulation. In our previous work, we showed that simple color properties could be used to reduce the computational time of a color similarity decision process that employed this metric, which is recognized as having high computational complexity. In this paper, we show mathematically and experimentally that these findings can be adapted and extended to the recently proposed CIEDE2000 PF metric, which has been recommended by the CIE for industrial applications. Moreover, we propose new efficient models that not only achieve lower error rates, but also outperform the results obtained for the CIEDE2000 metric.
Various new exact solutions to ( 3 + 1 ) \left(3+1) -dimensional Wazwaz–KdV equations are obtained in this work via two techniques: the modified Kudryashov procedure and modified simple equation method. The 3D plots, contour plots, and 2D plots of some obtained solutions are provided to describe the dynamic characteristics of the obtained solutions. Our employed techniques are very helpful in constructing new exact solutions to several nonlinear models encountered in ocean scientific phenomena arising in stratified flows, shallow water, plasma physics, and internal waves.
This study investigates the perspectives of teachers in Greece and Portugal on the effectiveness of a newly developed programme (FRIEND-SHIP intervention) aiming at fostering students’ social participation. Sixteen elementary school teachers, ten from Greece and six from Portugal, who implemented the programme in their classes were interviewed before and after implementation. The thematic analysis performed indicates that the intervention was perceived as successful in improving the students’ social skills and the overall classroom climate. Specific benefits were noted for students with disabilities and for those from racial or ethnic minority backgrounds. Overall, the FRIEND-SHIP programme was viewed as an easy to implement intervention with a relevant structure and content and was valued as very promising in fostering all students’ social participation.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disorder worldwide. Clinically, it is characterized by a progressive degeneration of dopaminergic neurons (DAn), resulting in severe motor complications. Preclinical and clinical studies have indicated that neuroinflammation can play a role in PD pathophysiology, being associated with its onset and progression. Nevertheless, several key points concerning the neuroinflammatory process in PD remain to be answered. Bearing this in mind, in the present review, we cover the impact of neuroinflammation on PD by exploring the role of inflammatory cells (i.e., microglia and astrocytes) and the interconnections between the brain and the peripheral system. Furthermore, we discuss both the innate and adaptive immune responses regarding PD pathology and explore the gut–brain axis communication and its influence on the progression of the disease.
This study aimed to determine the effect of three widely used radiopharmaceuticals with intestinal excretion on selected relevant bacteria that are part of the human gut microbiota, using an ex vivo approach. Fecal samples obtained from healthy volunteers were analyzed. Each sample was divided into four smaller aliquots. One served as the non-irradiated control. The other three were homogenized with three radiopharmaceutical solutions ([131I]NaI, [99mTc]NaTcO4, and [223Ra]RaCl2). Relative quantification of each taxa was determined by the 2−ΔΔC method, using the ribosomal gene 16S as an internal control (primers 534/385). Twelve fecal samples were analysed: three controls and nine irradiated. Our experiment showed fold changes in all analyzed taxa with all radiopharmaceuticals, but results were more significant with I-131, ranging from 1.87–83.58; whereas no relevant differences were found with Tc-99m and Ra-223, ranging from 0.98–1.58 and 0.83–1.97, respectively. This study corroborates limited existing research on how ionizing radiation changes the gut microbiota composition, providing novel data regarding the ex vivo effect of radiopharmaceuticals. Our findings justify the need for future larger scale projects.
Despite the widely recognized value of wetlands in providing vital ecosystem services, these are presently being degraded and ultimately destroyed, leading to a decrease in the biodiversity associated with these areas. Some species inextricably linked to wetlands, however, have been increasing and (re)colonizing areas across their range; a notable example being the Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia. In this study we aimed to identify the most important habitats for juvenile spoonbills fledging from a traditional colony in Portugal, located in Ria Formosa, during the period of their life with the lowest survival rates: the first months after leaving the colony. We deployed 16 GPS/GSM tags on juveniles captured in different years (2016 to 2020) and tracked them during post-fledging dispersal and first winter (average 166.4 ± 29.2 SE days). Using Corine Land Cover data, we were able to identify which habitats were most important. Several habitats were used in variable proportions by individuals originating from the same colony, but there was a general trend towards using fewer habitats along the first months of life. Intertidal wetlands were the most used habitat, but anthropogenic habitats such as Wastewater Treatment Plants, saltpans and rice fields were identified as alternative habitats for young spoonbills, and may had contributed to the recent expansion of this species in Portugal.
Location-based games (LBGs) are becoming increasingly more popular, especially those that focus on social interaction in public space. They have been successful to various extents at bringing players together to interact in public space; yet there is lack of knowledge and consensus on how to design these games from a technical perspective. This paper proposes a software architecture that stems from a cross-game analysis of representative games of this genre, in which 6 core architectural components are identified: Augmentation, Navigation, Interaction, State Progression, Participation, and Administration. These components support the game experience of players by enabling orientation and navigation of the players’ own physical environment, their interaction with the game and other people, the traditional game-like experience, management of the entire game ecosystem, and the ability to allow players to fuel game play. An LBG prototype, Secrets of the South, is presented as proof of concept for this software architecture and its key components. This prototype shows that the identified components are pivotal to the gameplay of LBGs for natural interactions in public space and shows how practitioners can be guided in their preparation whilst maintaining their freedom to technically implement this architecture according to the given structure.
The manufacture of automotive components requires innovative technologies and equipment. Due to the competitiveness in the sector, the implementation of automatic and robotic equipment has been vital in its development to produce the largest number of products in the shortest amount of time. Automation leads to a significant reduction in defects and enables mass production and standardization of the final product. This work was based on the need of an automotive components’ company to increase the rate of spiral cable cutting, used as protection for Bowden (control) cables. Currently, this component, used in automotive systems, is processed with simple cutting machines and cleaning machines. Based on the design science research (DSR) methodology, this work aims to develop a machine capable of performing the cutting and cleaning of two spiral cables simultaneously and automatically. The development of this machine was based on existing machines, and the biggest challenge was the implementation of a double-cutting system. The designed machine met the initial requirements, such as enabling the simultaneous cut of two spirals, being fully automatic, doubling the output over the current solution, and fully complying with the current legislation.
The demographic growth that we have witnessed in recent years, which is expected to increase in the years to come, raises emerging challenges worldwide regarding urban mobility, both in transport and pedestrian movement. The sustainable development of cities is also intrinsically linked to urban planning and mobility strategies. The tasks of navigation and orientation in cities are something that we resort to today with great frequency, especially in unknown cities and places. Current navigation solutions refer to the precision aspect as a big challenge, especially between buildings in city centers. In this paper, we focus on the segment of visually impaired people and how they can obtain information about where they are when, for some reason, they have lost their orientation. Of course, the challenges are different and much more challenging in this situation and with this population segment. GPS, a technique widely used for navigation in outdoor environments, does not have the precision we need or the most beneficial type of content because the information that a visually impaired person needs when lost is not the name of the street or the coordinates but a reference point. Therefore, this paper includes the proposal of a conceptual architecture for outdoor positioning of visually impaired people using the Landmark Positioning approach.
The recent increasing interest in the application of radiology contrasting agents to create transparency in biological tissues implies that the diffusion properties of those agents need evaluation. The comparison of those properties with the ones obtained for other optical clearing agents allows to perform an optimized agent selection to create optimized transparency in clinical applications. In this study, the evaluation and comparison of the diffusion properties of gadobutrol and glycerol in skeletal muscle was made, showing that although gadobutrol has a higher molar mass than glycerol, its low viscosity allows for a faster diffusion in the muscle. The characterization of the tissue dehydration and refractive index matching mechanisms of optical clearing was made in skeletal muscle, namely by the estimation of the diffusion coefficients for water, glycerol and gadobutrol. The estimated tortuosity values of glycerol (2.2) and of gadobutrol (1.7) showed a longer path-length for glycerol in the muscle.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels, which over time leads to body complications that can affect the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves. To control this disease, the use of applications for tracking and monitoring vital signs have been used frequently. These support systems improve their quality of life and prevent exacerbations, however they cannot help with nutritional control, so several patients with this disease still use the counting carbohydrates method, but this process is not available to everyone and is a time-consuming and not very rigorous method. This study evaluates three approaches including Support Vector Machine, Convolution Neural Network, and a pre-trained Convolution Neural Network called MobileNetV2, to choose the algorithm with the best performance in meals recognition and makes the control nutritional task more quickly, accurately, and efficiently. The results showed that the pre-trained Convolution Neural Network is the best choice for recognizing meals from an image, with an accuracy of 99%.KeywordsDiabetesFood recognitionSupport vector machineConvolutional neural networksMobileNetV2
Lifestyle, poor diet, stress, among other factors, strongly contribute to aggravate people’s health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of these problems could be avoided if some of the essential recommendations for the practice of a healthy lifestyle were followed. The paper proposes a solution designed for diabetic people to find restaurants nearby that are more suitable for their health needs. A diabetic-friendly feature that will use a set of criteria, built through a Multi-Agent System (MAS) that using the user preferences initially recorded, will provide the user with three category recommendations that potentially benefit the user lifestyle and health. The solution proposes the use of Case-Based Reasoning algorithm to enable the solution to evolve and improve in each interaction with the user. Sentiment Analysis was also used for identifying the restaurant reviews score, since this is one of the defined criteria for the solution.KeywordsRecommender systemDiabetic-friendlyMulti-agent systemSentiment analysisMulti-criteria decision makingCase-based reasoningk-Nearest Neighbors
This work aims to systematize the knowledge on emerging Intelligent Information Retrieval (IIR) practices in scenarios whose context is similar to the field of tax law. It is a part of a project that covers the emerging techniques of IIR and its applicability to the tax law domain. Furthermore, it presents an overview of different approaches for representing legal data and exposes the challenging task of providing quality insights to support decision-making in a dedicated legal environment. It also offers an overview of the related background and prior research referring to the techniques for information retrieval in legal documents, establishing the current state-of-the-art, and identifying its main drawbacks. A summary of the most appropriate technologies and research approaches of the technologies that apply artificial intelligence technology to help legal tasks is also depicted.
Institution pages aggregate content on ResearchGate related to an institution. The members listed on this page have self-identified as being affiliated with this institution. Publications listed on this page were identified by our algorithms as relating to this institution. This page was not created or approved by the institution. If you represent an institution and have questions about these pages or wish to report inaccurate content, you can contact us here.