Four more ventilator companies ramp UK production

Four more ventilator companies ramp UK production
Business news |
Four more ventilator makers are supplying the UK’s NHS to meet the Coronavirus outbreak.
By Nick Flaherty


Diamedica in Barnstable, Devon, contract manufacturer Plexus, defence contractor Babcock and health giant Smith + Nephew have all announced plans with the UK government to supply critical care ventilator systems to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcements come as the first portable non-invasive ventilator units are shipped from Smiths Medical (above, being tested), although initial volumes are of course low. This is part of the UK Ventilator Consortium programme that is also making an invasive system from Penlon.

The new announcements indicate that volume production from existing partners (including Dyson with it’s Covent design by TTP in Cambridge) will not be in time to meet the peak need for Covid-19 patients in the next two to three weeks. Distributor Anglia is tracking component demand for many of these production ramps, while 3D printing specialist Renishaw in Gloucestershire says the UK Ventilator consortium will be producing 1000 ventilators a week but by the end of April.  

Diamedica’s ventilator designs were shared with the Cabinet Office team leading the challenge, who have been able to match the plans with specialist manufacturers who are able to start ramping up production quickly, and at scale.

Diamedica is providing consulting services to the matched specialist manufacturers who are contracted to produce ventilators. “We are exceptionally proud to be a part of the effort to deliver ventilators for the NHS. Our product is already the leader within emerging markets and has now been selected to support the UK’s fight against COVID-19. I want to thank our team here at Diamedica for their dedication and efforts thus far, and all the manufacturing partners who are critical to this effort,” said Robert Neighbour, Managing Director.

Plexus will be manufacturing ventilators at its plant in Kelso, Scotland.  “We are proud to be a part of this opportunity to produce a substantial number of ventilators that will be deployed in hospitals across the United Kingdom.  I am humbled by the incredible work ethic of the Plexus teams in Kelso and Livingston, Scotland, and around the globe, who are doing their utmost to make the rapid production of these critical products possible.  I also would like to thank the courageous medical professionals of the NHS who we are honoured to serve,” said Ronnie Darroch, Executive Vice President and Regional President, EMEA for Plexus. 

“Plexus is uniquely qualified to support the design, development and production of critical medical equipment that assists healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19,” said Todd Kelsey, President and CEO. “ In addition to producing ventilators, Plexus also manufactures several other essential medical devices that further the fight against COVID-19 in its facilities around the world.  These devices include: infusion pumps, diagnostic equipment, patient monitors, bronchoscopes and laryngoscopes, CT scanners, MRI machines, ultrasounds and mobile x-ray units.”

Smith + Nephew is working with the University of Oxford and Kings College London on a basic non-invasive ventilator design called OxVent that is shipping this week to the NHS. “Smith+Nephew is proud to work with the OxVent team and bring our medical device design and manufacturing expertise to support the rapid delivery of this innovative new ventilator to the NHS,” said Mark Gladwell, President, Global Operations at Smith+Nephew.

Babcock says it has an order to make 10,000 units of the Zephyr Plus ventilator from an international critical care medical equipment supplier that wants to remain unnamed. However, like the Dyson CoVent, this is also dependent on medical approvals in the UK. The Diamedica, Plexus, Smiths and Penlon systems are all already approved. Medtronic in Ireland has also released all the design files and code for an approved portable ventilator design.

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