Automakers trying to solve India’s ventilator problem

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To support India’s fight against the novel coronavirus or Covid-19, automobile manufacturers have joined hands with government.

 

The Central Government reached out to four automakers last week to find ways how the companies can use their expertise in producing ventilators on a mass scale. India’s top car manufacturers Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Tata Motors and M&M have now come in support of the Indian Government.

In the last few days, we have seen the number of Covid-19 affected persons increasing and now it has crossed 1000. It is estimated that India has only about 40,000 ventilators currently, having about 8,500 in public hospitals. The number is very minuscule seeing a population of 1.3 billion. Experts are saying if the situation escalates than India would need around 1,20,000 – 2,00,000 ventilators. As per reports, India imports around 80-85 percent of all medical devices for intensive care, including ventilators. Italy, which is believed to be second in terms of health infrastructure, is suffering the most because of Covid-19. Therefore, the Central Government doesn’t want to take any chance and focusing on increasing the production of ventilators locally.

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In USA, the Trump administration invoked the Defense Production Act and ordered General Motors to start manufacturing ventilators without wasting any more time. The number of Covid-19 patients has already crossed 1 Lakh in USA.

Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has already started manufacturing Ventilators and will deliver 30,000 ventilators in the next 1-2 months.

Another PSU Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing multi-patient Ventilators, wherein a single ventilator can support several patients. It aims to produce 5,000 ventilators in the first month. “The DRDO has identified local alternatives to the supply of critical components. Already Secretary (Pharmaceuticals) has identified nine companies  to produce ventilaord. Each ventilator unit will cost around Rs four lakh”, said Government in a statement. Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra group have also announced their plans to help the country.

Pawan Goenka, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra Group tweeted that the company has adopted two effective strategies for the production of ventilators. “At one end, we along with two large PSUs are working with an existing manufacturer of high spec ventilators to help them to simplify design and scale-up capacity. Our engineering team is right now with them working on it,” his tweet read.

“At another end, we are working on an automated version of the Bag Valve Mask ventilator (commonly known as Ambu bag). We hope to have a Prototype ready in 3 days for approval. Once approved, this design will be made available to all for manufacturing.”

Anand Mahindra also applauded the company’s engineers for their rigorous hard work.

Maruti Suzuki has collaborated with AgVA Healthcare, an existing approved manufacturer of ventilators to provide 10,000 ventilators. Maruti Suzuki would use its suppliers to produce the required volume of components and use its experience and knowledge to upgrade systems for the production and quality control of the higher volumes. Bharat Seats Ltd and Krishna Maruti Ltd will also help in the production of masks and protective clothing for state and central government employees.

Several types of ventilators are used in medical practice. The companies haven’t clarified what type of ventilators they will be producing and its efficacy will have to be seen. Unlike a car assembly line, the ventilator manufacturing process is fairly labor-intensive. For this, companies have to train their staff because nothing can be taken for granted, as this is a life-saving equipment. Additionally, some parts are imported from other countries in the making of ventilators and because of Lockdown, the availability of parts will be a major issue.

The good news is India is still not in the community transmission stage. While the Government is doing whatever it can do to suppress the transmission, but we must follow the direction and guidelines of Government and stay at our home.

Dolly Mahayan

Dolly Mahayan

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