COVID-19 Drives Production and Unity Among Manufacturers

March 31, 2020

Healthcare facilities and professionals are experiencing a shortage in critical supplies and equipment required to treat patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus disease.

On March 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) issued a call to action to governments, businesses and individuals to do whatever can be done to minimize the transmission and impact of COVID-19 on society. This includes not imposing restrictions such as export controls and tariffs as well as allowing exemptions on lockdowns for critical suppliers. Medical device manufacturers are answering the call by increasing production and some are forming partnerships with firms outside of the medical sector to leverage machines and access to materials.

Philips Healthcare has plans to double the production of hospital ventilators in the next eight weeks by increasing manufacturing staff, adding manufacturing lines and increasing the number of shifts to 24/7 shifts, and engaging with third party contract manufacturers. Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips, stated, “In line with Philips’ mission to improve people’s lives, we want to help as many healthcare providers as possible to deal with the growing numbers of critical COVID-19 patients. There is an unprecedented global demand for medical equipment to help diagnose and treat patients with COVID-19.”  

Ventec Life Systems, a Seattle based ventilator manufacturer, was working with General Motors on a plan to re-tool machines to manufacture ventilator parts. This venture was met with push- back from government officials and FEMA due to exorbitant up-front costs, but GM is donating its resources at cost and is deploying 1,000 American workers to scale production immediately. GM CEO Mary Barra said, “GM is in the position to help build more ventilators because of the remarkable performance of GM and Ventec’s global supply base. Our joint teams have moved mountains to find real solutions to save lives and fight the pandemic.” The FDA-cleared ventilators are scheduled to ship in April. 

GE Healthcare has teamed up with Ford Motor Company to manufacture a simplified design of GE’s existing ventilator. The GE Healthcare president and CEO says they are encouraged how quickly companies from across industries have mobilized we are all facing from COVID-19. Jim Hackett, Ford’s president and CEO, states, “We’re so proud to be working closely with GE Healthcare on this important effort, and we have empowered our teams of engineers and designers to be scrappy and creative to quickly help scale up their production of this vital equipment.”

Companies including Medtronic, ResMed, and HillRom have also ramped up their ventilator production in response to the increased demand caused by COVID-19. In addition to ventilators, the most needed medical devices needed include patient vital sign monitoring devices, diagnostic imaging systems, and hospital beds.

AIV is committed to supporting clinical engineering worldwide by providing quality parts, service and accessories for medical devices. Learn more about AIV’s medical device support solutions at https://aiv-inc.com.

About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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