Corona-Virus — Britain Calls On The Engineering Industry To Rapidly Produce Ventilators

Description:  The novel Corona-virus has taken the world by storm and brought it to its knees. All nations around the globe are pulling all stops to make sure that they flatten the curve of the spread. With the virus attacking the upper respiratory tract, ventilators are one of the materials needed to help the patients breathe. And every industry in manufacturing and creating all over the globe is getting busy to make more.

Let’s face it, things are bad, and if the tabloids are right, it is about to get worse. COVID-19 has spread like wildfire across the globe. The whole industry life cycle has been affected. Online sites dealing with treasure trails to physical companies, everyone has felt the blow. In just five months, we are seeing infections in the millions with emerging cases of infection each passing day. Admittedly, a considerable number of the infected have recovered, but a percentage still succumbed to the virus. The older citizens and people with pre-existing conditions are the most vulnerable, but is everyone else safe?

Well, no! Because COVID-19 does not choose, who to infect. The old and the young are all at risk.

With that said, the British government is calling upon anyone and everyone in the engineering industry and others to join forces into making these very needed ventilators. But what exactly are these devices? Let’s find out.

What Is A Ventilator And How Does It Help In Taking Care of A Corona-Virus Patient?

Ventilators, sometimes referred to as respirators, are medical devices that aid the patient to breathe. This device delivers oxygen directly to the lungs, and this is why it is imperative in the care of a corona-virus patient. 

You see, the virus attacks the respiratory duct from the mouth to your lungs. Once it gets to the lungs, it inflames the organ and hence makes it hard for you to breathe. It can lead to pneumonia, where the air sacs are walloped. As the inflammation worsens, the patient needs help to breathe as it gets harder to do it physically on their own. And that is where ventilators come in.

They come in to assist you in moving the very much-needed oxygen to other parts of the body, such as your kidneys and brain, among others. Keep in mind that corona-virus is not the only time ventilators are used. They are also used in the following ways:

  • During and after surgery
  • Any other conditions where a patient cannot physically breathe on their own

As seen, they are very vital; hence the British government is desperately asking any person with industry knowledge to jump in and help.

Different Kinds Of Ventilators

There are ideally two kinds of ventilators, the invasive ones, and the non-invasive ones.

The invasive ventilators are connected to an endotracheal tube, which goes through the mouth into the windpipe. And this is the kind both the medical and pharmaceutical industry use in severe cases as an advanced corona-virus infection case. These devices push a volume of gas equivalent to the size we usually breathe into the lungs. Then the oxygen in that air is absorbed by the lungs, and carbon dioxide expelled by the lungs, consequently taken out by the ventilator.

The non-invasive ventilator, on the other hand, is a simple system that delivers oxygen through a face mask. As simple as it is, patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 still use them. 

Why Are Ventilators In Short Supply In The UK?

A patient who has tested positive for the novel COVID-19 will need to be on the ventilator for a considerable amount of time. And since the number of new infections is being registered in hundreds per day in Britain, the available ventilators are insufficient. These devices, especially the invasive ones, cannot be shared; otherwise, the virus will spread further from patient to patient.

On normal conditions, these ventilators cater to several medical uses, but since the pandemic, there is an immeasurable strain.

Which UK-based Industries Can Help In The Making of Ventilators Or Help Fight The Pandemic?

Currently, the UK’s National Health Service only has 8,000 ventilators, and this is not enough. The virus is on a continuous spread, and so more will be needed. The industries below are the ones that have been identified with the capacity to make ventilators. And a few more have come forward in fighting the virus further.

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Industries In the Making of Ventilators

Manufacturing and Engineering Industry

Any company that has an excellent track record of more than a year in industry in the manufacturing of plastics, rubber, and textiles, among others, can help in this fight against COVID-19. The ventilator has separate components that are assembled in the making of a functional unit. 

For instance, a company making plastics can take up the part of shaping the piping and the face masks. Rubber manufacturers could take up the small pieces used on the elastic part of the face mask. The plastics makers can also make the frame and the general housing of the device. 

The industry making gas cylinders can come in the provision of the valves, flow sensors, and oxygen measurement units, to mention a few. 

Dyson, a bagless vacuum cleaner company, is one of the front-runners who currently have an order of 10,000 units of ventilators. JCB, a company with a construction industry scheme, is among the ones to yet be contacted by the British government.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry that deals in the manufacturing of machinery and vehicles can also get on board. Since they have an engineering background, redirecting their work stations to make ventilators is possible. They might not per se have all the resources to make a complete ventilator. Still, several components can be utilized in the making of these devices.

Companies such as Rolls-Royce, Formula One, and many more are in the fight as well, willing to ramp up the production of the existing ventilator models.

Electrical Industry

The electrical industry comes in to help with the safety checks of these very new designs. Ideally, the development of new plans takes close to three years. Still, due to the urgency of the matter, the industry’s big players such as General Motors and Phillips have joined the fight. Their work is to make sure that the products are safe to be used and are in the utmost conditions to do as they should.

Technology and Robotics Industry

Tech can come in to help with the programming of the software used in the reading of vitals in the ventilators. All the systems must work in unison to provide accurate readings, and here is how they can help.

The robotics sector is making the rise of industry in unfathomable ways. With that said, they too can come on board in the making of the very much-needed ventilators. They can also come in the making of the monitors with an automated control panel to adjust the required settings for different patients. Conventional ventilators need an already trained medical personnel to make the manual adjustment, but having one automated can significantly help. Doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners in Britain are already spread way too thin, and so this might be a game-changer.

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry can also come in the designing of these same ventilators. These aerospace companies are part of a consortium with several other sectors to ump up the production of the very much-needed ventilators. 

Higher Education Institutions

These include universities, engineering institutions, and research centers mostly used as learning institutions. These grounds can also come in the design and even the making of models that can become viable as ventilators. Young minds have been invited to put their training into practice. The British government also opened up a line such that if anyone manages to make a ventilator, they should contact them.

Supporting Sectors

Service And Hospitality Industries

Other sectors, such as the service industry and the hospitality industry, have joined in the fight against COVID-19. The hotel chain, Best Western, has offered the British government their properties to use as temporary hospitals if the already segregated space runs out. People on quarantine need to be placed approximately a meter away from each other. And so this extra space will come in handy if the need arises.

Alcohol Industry

The alcohol industry comes in the making of hand sanitizers and alcohol-based cleaning products that can be used to clean surfaces to kill the virus.

As seen above, all sectors that fit into an industry definition has joined hands into fighting COVID-19. The consortium is working day and night to get the production of these ventilators underway as soon as possible.

What Is The Progress?

A New Ventilator Model

Amidst the pandemic, a glimpse of hope in the matter of making of ventilators has been seen. The company Dyson has come up with a prototype new CoVent ventilator, which is to commence production soon. The project will be given the go-ahead once all the safety and regulatory tests have been completed.

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Dyson, the company that revolutionized the vacuum cleaner market back in the 90s, keeps giving. It is even after producing a bagless cyclonic device, followed by several other ventilating appliances such as air purifiers, hand dryers, and fans. Dyson has a target of making 10,000 ventilators, which will significantly help during these trying times. They will dig into their expertise in areas such as motors, power systems, air movements, supply chains, and manufacturing in the industry, to optimize its new model.

Increased Production Support

Rolls-Royce, Siemens UK, BAE, and Airbus, are currently awaiting the green light from the government into helping Penlon and Smiths Group ramp up production of already existing ventilators.

Further Outreach 

The British government is also stretching its reach to private hospitals and international producers to gather more ventilators. Another notable name is Babcock. It is a British expert working in the engineering Industry who has teamed up with a leading medical equipment company and experts from London’s Royal Brompton Hospital.

A Possible Prototype Of An Antibody For Corona-virus Testing

The British government recently purchased 3.5 million antibody testing kits used in the testing of the virus infection. At the moment, the packages are still under scrutiny to see if they work. After they have been approved, the distribution will commence.

Even as they fight the pandemic, possible antibody prototypes are being assessed and ready for optimization. It will be a notable boost forward and would exceedingly help with the testing process.

Are Other Places Experiencing The Same Shortage?

The UK is not the only place suffering, but the whole world is going through the same. The good news is that industries all over are joining the bandwagon to first this pandemic. 

As seen in the USA, industry giants are pledging to offer all the support they can. For instance, Ford is using its parts that are usually used in the manufacturing of cars. These are like fans and batteries that can be used in the production of modified respirators and ventilators. 

Tesla has partnered with Medtronic to make ventilators at its Giga factory, which usually makes solar PV cells. 

Mercedes-AMG High-Performance Powertrains, which makes formula one engine aims to build 10,000 continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines that provide oxygen before ventilators are needed. In conjunction with other companies, they adopt a process known as reverse engineering. This effort was beneficial in Italy as reported that half the number of patients given the CPAP avoided the need for invasive ventilation.

Famous fashion brands in the showbiz industry are also joining in the fight pledging to make face masks that can be used in the prevention of the virus. Gucci is making millions of up-to-standard face masks, and Prada has donated money to build two ICU units in Milan. Zara, H&M, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, among others, are lending a helping hand too.

Take away

The Corona-virus pandemic seemed to have hit us all hard, but as seen, we stand tall to fight. In these very trying times, we are seeing industries that we never imagined collaborating working together. The world has become a better place. We have put our differences aside and are working together for a better tomorrow. Now that you have seen what the world is doing, what is your contribution? You might not be in a position to produce money or ventilators, but you can stay home, stay safe, and stay clean to flatten the curve. This world is ours; let’s protect it. Corona may have won the war, but it will not win the battle. Stay safe!

Do you have any questions about Coronavirus, or would you like to leave a message of encouragement? Leave a comment below and let us know.

About the writer

Thomas Quarry is a data scientist, treasure hunter and a concerned citizen who wants to commend the excellent work of all the frontline fighters of this pandemic. Especially the industries that have come forward to help in the fight against Corona-virus without prejudice.

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