Ventilator technology takes centre stage

March 28, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
The ventilator team at UK vacuum cleaner maker Gtech
Ventilator makers around the world are boosting production while governments stimulate new designs and even insist on production

Ventilator technology has been at the heart of the response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Calls for increased production, new designs and even 'force majeure' to take over manufacturing plants have highlighted the importance of medical equipment to save the lives of patients. At the same time price is becoming an issue with systems in high demand.

Last night the US president, Donald Trump, signed an order to force car maker General Motors to manufacture ventilators. These are set to be based on a ventilator from Ventec Life System called VOCSN that is already in production.

The order, under the 1950 Defense Production Act, apparently came about after negotiations on price broke down. The deal, called ‘Project V’ is reported to be worth $1bn for 80,000 ventilators. While there is a cost for re-tooling, this puts the cost per ventilator at under $12,500, which is around the list price. At the same time, prices for a ventilator on the grey market have shot up from $20,000 to $97,000 according to reports, driving governments to look at other suppliers.    

Ventec said General Motors will build the ventilators at its plant in Kokomo, Indiana with 8,000 due to ship in April, and 10,000 a month after that. Ventec is also ramping up production at their manufacturing facility in Bothell, Washington, which makes 250 units a month. GM is donating its resources, including 1000 manufacturing staff, at cost, and the two companies said they had identified developed sourcing plans for the more than 700 individual parts that are needed to build up to 200,000 VOCSN ventilators.

 “This unique partnership combines Ventec’s respiratory care expertise with GM’s manufacturing might to produce sophisticated and high-quality critical care ventilators,” said Chris Kiple, CEO of Ventec Life Systems. “This pandemic is unprecedented and so is this response."

Next: UK ventilator projects and production 

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