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COVID-19 – can the manufacturing giants play a part in saving lives?

Several leading manufacturers, in the automotive and other industries, have answered the government’s plea and indicated their willingness to offer their production facilities over for the manufacture of ventilators – but what are the challenges?

This is by no means a simple endeavour, and there will be many obstacles for the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to overcome very quickly in order to meet very demanding timescales. Cooperation, collaboration and pragmatism between those involved will be absolutely crucial for the success of this critical, live saving venture.

OEMs are likely simply to offer their facilities on a contract manufacturing basis on behalf of ventilator manufacturers for much needed production capacity. This model will be the quickest and least complex to apply, although not without many challenges.

Contract manufacturing often takes some time to implement, particularly in relation to unfamiliar product lines. OEMs will need to carry out a period of research and development to prove the concept that their facilities, and the skills of the work force, are viable in the manufacture of a very different type of product. Tooling will need to be developed or sourced, installed and tested. Processes must be designed and prototypes produced and thoroughly tested and validated before production can even begin.

There is little doubt that the knowledge of the OEMs’ highly skilled engineering staff will be transferable to the manufacture of these crucial medical devices, but there will be some considerable effort in getting to grips with unfamiliar technology. The OEMs will need to rely heavily on the co-operation of ventilator manufacturers to share key knowledge and information about their technology, manufacturing processes and supply chain for the venture to be a success.


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The OEMs will need to rely heavily on the co-operation of ventilator manufacturers to share key knowledge and information about their technology, manufacturing processes and supply chain for the venture to be a success.

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While the OEMs will look to source essential components from an authorised manufacturer within the supply chain, in doing so they and their suppliers will need to take care not to infringe any patents which protect systems, or to breach the terms of any patent licences.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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