Coronavirus: UK aerospace firms contribute to ventilator manufacturing effort

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A consortium of industrial, technology and engineering businesses including several leading aerospace companies are partnering to rapidly produce medical ventilators for the UK, to meet need for critical care in the country during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium, which also includes companies from the automotive and medical sectors, is being led by the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult manufacturing research centre.

The UK Government has ordered more than 10,000 ventilators from the Consortium to supplement the 5,000 devices its National Health Service had in stock before the coronavirus pandemic. It is planning to procure a total of 30,000 devices to meet demand during an anticipated spike in demand as the spread of the virus peaks.

Aerospace and defense companies participating in the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium include Airbus, BAE Systems, Meggitt, Rolls-Royce, Thales and Ultra Electronics.

Other companies in the group include some which already manufacture medical devices such as Smiths Group, Siemens, Renishaw, Penlon and Inspiration Healthcare, as well as several UK-based F1 teams, such as McLaren and Williams. Ford, Unilever and technology firms including PTC, Microsoft and Dell are also contributing to the project

Dick Elsy, CEO of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult said, “This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world. Every day, their highly-skilled staff collaborate to create solutions that help millions of people, and this project is no different.

“They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries. I am confident this consortium has the skills and tools to make a difference and save lives.”

The consortium has already investigated and evaluated how to produce a range of ventilator designs to meet a high-level specification defined by UK-based clinicians and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. The device it has agreed on combines existing clinical equipment and can be assembled from materials and parts currently in production.

Manufacturing of the agreed-upon design is set to begin this week, said the Consortium. Regulators, who have been involved throughout the design process, are ready to perform a prompt regulatory sign off after the final audit.

Those interested in helping with the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium (@VentilatorUK ) have been asked to register their offer for support via the UK Government’s web page.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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