https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/02174844/The-AE-Aerospace-team-were-one-of-the-first-companies-to-complete-parts-for-the-consortium-scaled.jpg
    Medical

    Your country needs you!

    • By Editor
    • June 1, 2020
    • 6 minute read

    In a national response evoking Lord Kitchener’s “Your Country Needs You!” 1914 recruitment campaign, precision engineering companies and subcontractors up and down the country have stepped up to manufacture vital components for ventilators and PPE equipment. Ventilators are complex machines and need many, very precise component parts. Then there are plastic moulded parts for these and other medical devices, let alone the millions       of PPE items needed for the NHS. Will Stirling reviews some of the companies doing their duty in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

    Diversified metrology and engineering company Renishaw was a founder member of the Ventilator Challenge UK, the consortium formed to increase manufacture of the existing Penlon and Smiths Medical ventilators. From 11 May Renishaw will be dispatching the final batch of 4,500 parts, of a total of 115,000 different components it has made since the consortium was formed.

    The components vary but include many turned parts for the Smiths Medical machines, manufactured on Citizen sliding head lathes. Renishaw’s ‘lights out’ RAMTIC Mazak manufacturing platform, modified to make these parts, have also worked day and night.

    “This challenge has highlighted the strengths of UK manufacturing,” said Renishaw Communications Director, Chris Pockett, who is also on the Ventilator Challenge (VC) board. “From the start, we have had a single focus, total collaboration where no egos have dominated. The challenge of increasing production on these complex, low volume machines to mass production in short time, by this group of different engineering firms, is remarkable and its unprecedented.”

    Engineering company Produmax in Shipley is making 10 different parts, mainly valves and connectors, for flow meters in both the Penlon and Smiths Medical ventilators via both the VC consortium and the F1 consortium led by Mercedes. “The firm changed shifts and worked 24/7 for a period of time, both apprentices and staff turned around quotes in hours rather than days, and have produced parts the same day,” said Finance Director Mandy Ridyard. “We are very proud of our engineering ‘superheroes’ and to be supporting this national effort. It is the right thing to do.”

    Micron Workholding (MicroLoc) in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, had been planning to dispose of a Matsuura H+300 horizontal machine that was deemed surplus to requirement. But it’s lucky it did not – the MTD Network got in touch and MicroLoc is now making parts for the Ventilator Challenge consortium. The company was approached in March about capacity, as the VC procurement manager knew MicroLoc had a Matsuura that was capable of large batch production.

    “We took on two parts, 20,000 milled components on the Matsuura and 10,000 turned/milled components on our Nakamura lathe,” said MicroLoc Sales Director Matthew Jenness. “Normally, we would be producing MicroLoc products full-time but decided to make the ventilator parts, as we had good stock of MicroLoc. It was very successful, and we were running 24/7 for a few weeks to complete these in time.”

    Newport CNC also secured two projects through the MTD Network, a network that refers jobs to member companies. Details for one job that was sent to many subcontractors from the Ventilator Challenge group were received on a Sunday afternoon for delivery by Tuesday morning. Newport CNC selected 20 sets for the first batch and since delivered 550 sets within the following two weeks. These parts include a cable clamp, a bellows adjustment handle and a switch bracket. Production was recently interrupted when the consortia had to make a design change.

    For another part, a manifold block, from a different source, Newport CNC is making 1,000 parts a week totalling about 5,000 parts to date. “We were aiming for 1,000 a week but we have improved on that and we hope the other job we secured through MTD Network will return if they can make the alterations that were needed,” said Steve Knowles, Managing Director at Newport CNC. Staff at the firm happily agreed to take shifts on the machines to observe the social distancing restrictions.

    SMEs show rapid response

    AE Aerospace was one of the first companies to deliver finished components as part of the Ventilator Challenge consortium and its story shows how SMEs had to adapt to the demand of much shorter lead times. The Birmingham company has been manufacturing complex parts destined for thousands of Smiths Medical Pneupac® and ParaPAC® ventilators, and quickly had to get to grips with new materials and novel production methods. Managing Director Peter Bruch hailed a big team effort involved in completing six weeks’ worth of production in just a fortnight. AE Aerospace’s normal lead times can be 12-weeks, from sight of drawing to finishing production.

    “From the moment we received the drawings, the team rallied to overhaul our production line, rapidly learn new manufacturing techniques and share ideas on how we could accelerate creation of these components,” Peter said. “The entire team was involved throughout the project, as we got to grips with mill-turning complex parts made from nylon – a material that we don’t often work with.”

    Early in the ventilator ramp-up, and another case of rapid response, engineering manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Phil Kirkland pulled a team together to review ventilator designs on Thursday March 26, before manufacturing test parts on the Friday ready for delivery the following Sunday evening and assembly at Ford on Monday, March 30. “It was an incredible team effort in the middle of a global lockdown,” said Kirkland.

    He added “With just four days to turn things around, a 10-strong team including essential maintenance, first aid and fire marshal cover worked with a combination of 2D drawings and 3D models with support provided remotely by engineering and management staff.” Component parts were manufactured from aluminium and brass and supplied by Sheffield-based Ian Cocker Precision Engineering.

    Titan races to help NHS save lives

    St Neots-based Titan usually makes parts and develops technology for Formula 1, motorsport and automotive manufacturers with McLaren, Aston Martin and Caterham as clients. Now, the 95-employee business has completely re-purposed the organisation to become an instant key supplier for ventilator products.

    The 25 CNC milling machines and lathes at Titan are now churning out ventilator parts six days a week, night and day. Although Titan would like to get back to its normal performance-orientated automotive business quickly, it acknowledges the current work is vitally important to the NHS’s urgent need.

    George Lendrum, Managing Director, said: “This transformation is testament to the staff at Titan who have worked like trojans to re-purpose the factory for the projects that are so central to the push to equip the NHS with more ventilators. The response from everyone has been simply phenomenal: we reversed furlough for several employees, ignored Easter and have worked throughout the period.”

    More engineering and moulding companies that have supplied parts for equipment for the Coronavirus crisis include Hone-All Precision, G&O Springs, Worcester Bosch (casings), Citizen Machine Tools, Amies, AMS Technical Plastics, Adreco Plastics, Boddingtons, Anomalous, Avanade, Baker Hughes, Converge, Customark and many more. This list does not include the hundreds of companies, textiles firms, universities and even schools making PPE equipment and scrubs.

    See https://www.ventilatorchallengeuk.com/ for a list of some suppliers to the Ventilator Challenge.

     

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/02174844/The-AE-Aerospace-team-were-one-of-the-first-companies-to-complete-parts-for-the-consortium-scaled.jpg

    Your country needs you!

    In a national response evoking Lord Kitchener’s “Your Country Needs You!” 1914 recruitment campaign, precision engineering companies and subcontractors up and down the country have stepped up to manufacture vital components for ventilators and PPE equipment. Ventilators are complex machines and need many, very precise component parts. Then there are plastic moulded parts for these and other medical devices, let alone the millions       of PPE items needed for the NHS. Will Stirling reviews some of the companies doing their duty in response to the Coronavirus crisis.

    Diversified metrology and engineering company Renishaw was a founder member of the Ventilator Challenge UK, the consortium formed to increase manufacture of the existing Penlon and Smiths Medical ventilators. From 11 May Renishaw will be dispatching the final batch of 4,500 parts, of a total of 115,000 different components it has made since the consortium was formed.

    The components vary but include many turned parts for the Smiths Medical machines, manufactured on Citizen sliding head lathes. Renishaw’s ‘lights out’ RAMTIC Mazak manufacturing platform, modified to make these parts, have also worked day and night.

    “This challenge has highlighted the strengths of UK manufacturing,” said Renishaw Communications Director, Chris Pockett, who is also on the Ventilator Challenge (VC) board. “From the start, we have had a single focus, total collaboration where no egos have dominated. The challenge of increasing production on these complex, low volume machines to mass production in short time, by this group of different engineering firms, is remarkable and its unprecedented.”

    Engineering company Produmax in Shipley is making 10 different parts, mainly valves and connectors, for flow meters in both the Penlon and Smiths Medical ventilators via both the VC consortium and the F1 consortium led by Mercedes. “The firm changed shifts and worked 24/7 for a period of time, both apprentices and staff turned around quotes in hours rather than days, and have produced parts the same day,” said Finance Director Mandy Ridyard. “We are very proud of our engineering ‘superheroes’ and to be supporting this national effort. It is the right thing to do.”

    Micron Workholding (MicroLoc) in Kimbolton, Cambridgeshire, had been planning to dispose of a Matsuura H+300 horizontal machine that was deemed surplus to requirement. But it’s lucky it did not – the MTD Network got in touch and MicroLoc is now making parts for the Ventilator Challenge consortium. The company was approached in March about capacity, as the VC procurement manager knew MicroLoc had a Matsuura that was capable of large batch production.

    “We took on two parts, 20,000 milled components on the Matsuura and 10,000 turned/milled components on our Nakamura lathe,” said MicroLoc Sales Director Matthew Jenness. “Normally, we would be producing MicroLoc products full-time but decided to make the ventilator parts, as we had good stock of MicroLoc. It was very successful, and we were running 24/7 for a few weeks to complete these in time.”

    Newport CNC also secured two projects through the MTD Network, a network that refers jobs to member companies. Details for one job that was sent to many subcontractors from the Ventilator Challenge group were received on a Sunday afternoon for delivery by Tuesday morning. Newport CNC selected 20 sets for the first batch and since delivered 550 sets within the following two weeks. These parts include a cable clamp, a bellows adjustment handle and a switch bracket. Production was recently interrupted when the consortia had to make a design change.

    For another part, a manifold block, from a different source, Newport CNC is making 1,000 parts a week totalling about 5,000 parts to date. “We were aiming for 1,000 a week but we have improved on that and we hope the other job we secured through MTD Network will return if they can make the alterations that were needed,” said Steve Knowles, Managing Director at Newport CNC. Staff at the firm happily agreed to take shifts on the machines to observe the social distancing restrictions.

    SMEs show rapid response

    AE Aerospace was one of the first companies to deliver finished components as part of the Ventilator Challenge consortium and its story shows how SMEs had to adapt to the demand of much shorter lead times. The Birmingham company has been manufacturing complex parts destined for thousands of Smiths Medical Pneupac® and ParaPAC® ventilators, and quickly had to get to grips with new materials and novel production methods. Managing Director Peter Bruch hailed a big team effort involved in completing six weeks’ worth of production in just a fortnight. AE Aerospace’s normal lead times can be 12-weeks, from sight of drawing to finishing production.

    “From the moment we received the drawings, the team rallied to overhaul our production line, rapidly learn new manufacturing techniques and share ideas on how we could accelerate creation of these components,” Peter said. “The entire team was involved throughout the project, as we got to grips with mill-turning complex parts made from nylon – a material that we don’t often work with.”

    Early in the ventilator ramp-up, and another case of rapid response, engineering manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Phil Kirkland pulled a team together to review ventilator designs on Thursday March 26, before manufacturing test parts on the Friday ready for delivery the following Sunday evening and assembly at Ford on Monday, March 30. “It was an incredible team effort in the middle of a global lockdown,” said Kirkland.

    He added “With just four days to turn things around, a 10-strong team including essential maintenance, first aid and fire marshal cover worked with a combination of 2D drawings and 3D models with support provided remotely by engineering and management staff.” Component parts were manufactured from aluminium and brass and supplied by Sheffield-based Ian Cocker Precision Engineering.

    Titan races to help NHS save lives

    St Neots-based Titan usually makes parts and develops technology for Formula 1, motorsport and automotive manufacturers with McLaren, Aston Martin and Caterham as clients. Now, the 95-employee business has completely re-purposed the organisation to become an instant key supplier for ventilator products.

    The 25 CNC milling machines and lathes at Titan are now churning out ventilator parts six days a week, night and day. Although Titan would like to get back to its normal performance-orientated automotive business quickly, it acknowledges the current work is vitally important to the NHS’s urgent need.

    George Lendrum, Managing Director, said: “This transformation is testament to the staff at Titan who have worked like trojans to re-purpose the factory for the projects that are so central to the push to equip the NHS with more ventilators. The response from everyone has been simply phenomenal: we reversed furlough for several employees, ignored Easter and have worked throughout the period.”

    More engineering and moulding companies that have supplied parts for equipment for the Coronavirus crisis include Hone-All Precision, G&O Springs, Worcester Bosch (casings), Citizen Machine Tools, Amies, AMS Technical Plastics, Adreco Plastics, Boddingtons, Anomalous, Avanade, Baker Hughes, Converge, Customark and many more. This list does not include the hundreds of companies, textiles firms, universities and even schools making PPE equipment and scrubs.

    See https://www.ventilatorchallengeuk.com/ for a list of some suppliers to the Ventilator Challenge.