Australian engineering firms and manufacturing companies are working together as part of the nation’s COVID-19 response.
A $31.3 million agreement between the Australian Government and Victorian company Grey Innovation has resulted in an industry consortium to produce 2000 life-saving ventilators for treating COVID-19 patients.
Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, said local manufacture of the machines will help save lives.
“We are moving to fast-track the local production of ventilators so that hospitals and healthcare workers can continue their extraordinary efforts in caring for those of us who need it most,” he said.
Meanwhile, with the V8 Supercars season currently on hold, motorsport engineers have also turned their attention to coronavirus relief efforts.
Led by engineer Mirko De Rosa, the Erebus Motorsport team has developed two prototypes: a face mask adapted from a snorkel and a perspex patient cover to limit coronavirus exposure in hospitals.
Brisbane-based Triple Eight Race Engineering has also developed a low-cost ventilator prototype in collaboration with medical professionals and local intensive care unit experts.
“This is very early days, and we have to make sure all regulatory requirements are met, but we stand ready to help in whatever way we can,” said Team Principal Roland Dane.
“I’m so proud of the innovation and agility of my team and what we can do when we put our minds to it.”
In the UK, engineers are mobilising in response to a government call to fend off a potential ventilator shortage.
This has led to the creation of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium, which has connected 15 companies and groups, seven F1 teams and five “key enablers” including Accenture, Microsoft and PTC, with the goal of rapidly building ventilators.
Seven priority projects are already underway, and the government has approved the production of 10,000 ventilators that are based on a new Consortium-agreed design.
Michael Shoebridge, Defence, Strategy and National Security Director at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has suggested this type of cooperation could be expanded internationally as part of a ventilator grand challenge.
“In contrast to vaccine development, we have yet to see global cooperation between medical researchers and industrial designers and manufacturers,” Shoebridge wrote in an opinion piece in March.
“There is internal cooperation between governments and companies on ventilator production, but little obvious international cooperation. That needs to change urgently so that we create what we need fast: open source designs for easily producible ventilators, using parts and supplies that are likely to be available in our own nations.”