As COVID-19 cases surpass 10 million worldwide, the need for life-saving equipment is more urgent than ever. Healthcare systems lacking proper equipment and infrastructure are struggling to cope as the virus spreads at an unprecedented speed.
The government has estimated that an additional 30,000 ventilators will be needed in the fight against COVID-19. Michael Gove revealed that the NHS currently only have 8,175 available, but a total minimum of 61,0001 ventilators is said to be needed by front-line staff. Manufacturers across the globe are teaming together in what may be their biggest challenge to date.
Multinational aerospace corporation Airbus has played a leading role in the Ventilator Challenge UK consortium, an association of significant UK industrial, engineering and technology companies from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, producing medical ventilators for the UK.
Manufacturing giants such as Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Bentley, Rolls Royce, McLaren, Tesla, Dyson, Williams, Lamborghini and Mercedes have also extended their support and facilities to build more vital machines.
Dyson has already agreed to produce 10,000 ventilators for the NHS and 5,000 to provide aid overseas.
Having partnered with academics at University College London, Mercedes have developed the first continuous airway pressure (CPAP) device – the UCL-Ventura CPAP. The machine pushes oxygen and air into a mask, which in turn inflates the patient’s lungs. Healthcare professionals in the UK can now request devices for delivery to hospitals at no cost.
In addition to this, Ford has collaborated with American multinational conglomerate corporation 3M to create a new, innovative machine – the Powered Air-Purifying Respirator. This device consists of a clear mask connected to a tube that is placed over the patient’s mouth. This then draws air through to be filtered by a pump.
With the postponement of sporting events, many UK-based Formula One teams have ‘Project Pitlane’ in support of the mass production of ventilators. The project’s focus is combining skills and equipment across the board, utilising this industry’s fundamental skills of fast-paced design, prototype manufacture, test and expert assembly.2
Companies are expected to forgo any profits, but for many this operation is the only thing keeping their factory doors from closing.
The chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in the UK, Mike Hawes, has called these efforts, “essential and extraordinary work”. He noted that it is a “beacon of hope to our NHS and all of society and is a shining example of how the wider automotive and other manufacturing sectors can help in this time of crisis.”3
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