The world is in an upheaval right now. While most of the developed and developing countries did not take the Corona scare seriously at the start, the resulting pandemonium has put their priorities straight.
Most of the countries, including Pakistan, are facing lock down situations for more than a month now while citizens, both old and young, continue to get infected at a steadily increasing rate.
To the horror of many, the situation is growing worse instead of getting under control. For now, there is no cure to the viral pandemic and only prevention is in our hands.
Taking this under consideration, BlueEast has picked up the gauntlet and the engineering departments are working to produce disinfectant walk-through gates and Low-Cost Ventilators that we will be distributing as part of our charity drive in these difficult times.
What’s the Need?
All over the world, hospitals and healthcare departments are facing a shortage of ventilators, which in turn is causing a huge crisis. This situation has led to the international community asking for everyone to join hands to fight against COVID-19 effectively.
Pakistan has a total of 3844 ventilators and out of these, almost 1000 are defective. This statistic is enough to make everyone worry as the coming weeks may see an influx of patients suffering from respiratory failures and requiring ventilators.
Low-Cost Ventilators – What’s being done?
Instead of reinventing the wheel, the BlueEast is working on the production of smart ventilators. Medical, Engineering and Logistics Personnel from all over the world are invited in an open bid to ensure safety as well as efficiency.
The ventilator is supposed to be the most cost-effective solution for the healthcare industry and while a lot is being said about the ventilators manufacturing and optimization, most of the manufacturers and thinkers are not taking the job seriously.
BlueEast is aware that this production concerns the life of individuals. With that said, the company is focusing on the durability and the reliability of the design. Once the design is complete, BlueEast plans to take the design to DRAP (Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan) that operates on strict guidelines.
Many designs presented to DRAP beforehand have been rejected because they lacked the proper documentation for certification. BlueEast is ensuring the quality and the success of the design and Orient plans to produce the ventilators commercially after approval.
BlueEast’s Progress so Far
BlueEast officials have been closely studying the major open-source and closed-source ventilator design initiatives for the last several weeks. The company originally embarked on three tracks:
- Designing our ventilator
- Following MIT E-Vent design for possible collaboration and mass-production at our parent company’ factory
- Licensing the ventilator design for mass-production at our parent company’s factory
As the company made progress and researched more on the ventilators and their minimum requirements for successful mechanical ventilation by the ICUs and respiratory therapists – it became clear that ventilator design is serious business and the simple designs being worked-on were going to do more harm than benefit.
It would take more time and energy to design a ventilator that fulfills the requirements of an emergency ventilator, but in the process, there was a lot to learn for BlueEast regarding the intricacies of a ventilator designing.
BlueEast’s prototype consists of a stepper motor that pushes sheet metal clamps up and down to squeeze the Ambu-bag. The design is simple and there is no need for position encoders.
The motor must have high durability to sustain the duty cycles. The breath rate and the force with which the Ambu-bag would expand and contract has been adjustable through a micro-controller.
This design needed access to sheet-metal fabrication facilities and raw material. Since this design was made in the first week of lock-down, the company was highly skeptical about the degree of success in making the physical prototype in the highly constrained situation.
As a design back-up, BlueEast also started on a 3D printer friendly design. Ironically, 3D printers are hard to come by because of restrictions on imports by the government but the second design consisted of minimum parts that could easily be 3D printed.
The said design only required guide-rods and custom design for the Ambu-bag to fit into a compact design. Again, the stepper motor mounted at the base was needed for Ambu-bag compression.
The design was simple as there was no need for position encoders. All it needed was reliable functionality of the motor, which was achieved by the aid of clever firmware and electronics. Again, the breath rate and the force with which the Ambu-bag would squeezed was adjustable through a micro-controller.
Meanwhile, the company has downloaded all the design specifications given by Medtronic PLC as well. The data is huge and is being organized for a proper production transition and sourcing activity. The plan is to start mass-manufacturing of the ventilators at the Orient plant.
It bears mentioning that BlueEast does not consider the manufacturing of ventilators a commercial endeavor. The company would be working on donating their services as well as the ventilators during this difficult time.
Abdul Rehman Talat (CEO BlueEast and Director Orient Electronics) commented that, “We are not experts when it comes to ventilators but we are chipping in our financial and engineering resources to help the nation in this time of need.”
“We would discontinue our pro-bono work and mass-production of the ventilators when we, as a nation, get out of this situation and WHO degrades COVID-19 from its current pandemic status.” Mr. Talat continued.