COLLABORATION

UCL, Formula 1 to race against rising demands for ventilators

SOURCE: Srdjan Suki/POOL/AFP
Impacted by race cancellations, F1 teams are shifting gears to help with ventilator manufacturing.

The global pandemic has resulted in a severe shortage of medical supplies worldwide as the number of infected cases continues to rise. Despite the adverse effects, COVID-19 has also spurred fascinating collaborative efforts between various industries and institutions of higher education. 

Faced with the cancellation and postponement of races, Formula 1 teams are now working on a plan to support Innovate UK, the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult team, University College London and UCL hospitals to produce more ventilators which are needed in ICU units across the country. 

These teams, which have the engineering capability and expertise are providing their assistance to speed up manufacturing processes to make up for the severe shortage of medical supplies in the UK. 

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Ventilators are one of the supplies that are becoming in demand by hospitals and healthcare providers as they are needed to support patients with chronic respiratory symptoms, one of the effects of COVID-19. 

According to a statement from F1 reported on BBC News, a collective of UK-based Formula 1 teams, engine manufacturers and their respective technology arms are evaluating support for the manufacture of respiratory devices as a response to UK’s call for assistance. 

These teams, who each have expert design, technology, and production capabilities, will work with the UK government and organisations to establish the feasibility of producing or supporting the production of ventilators. 

“Working with Innovate UK, the High-Value Manufacturing Catapult team and University College London and UCL hospitals, the teams are evaluating a number of routes to support in conjunction with existing manufacturers and organisations from the aerospace and automotive sectors,” a media statement from Formula 1 read. 

“It is hoped this work, which is being rapidly progressed, will produce a tangible outcome in the next few days.”

Among the UK-based teams that will be providing their expertise from applied-technologies divisions and high-speed manufacturing capabilities are McLaren, Red Bull, Willams and Mercedes, Racing Point, Haas, and Renault.

Formula 1
There has been an ongoing worldwide shortage of ventilators and medical supplies. Source: Jack Guez/AFP.

Options to help accelerate the manufacturing of these ventilators are being examined in conjunction with University College London, where many F1 team members studied engineering and its associated teaching hospital.

According to government figures, the NHS currently has 5,000 adult ventilators, and 900 examples for children. 

All teams have the advanced manufacturing capability to potentially be utilised to mass-produce complex devices such as this. 

With the estimated need by the UK government amounting to 20,000 ventilators to deal with the ongoing health crisis, the idea is to increase the supply of the existing design of ventilators rather than try to come up with a new approach. 

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The collaborative effort hopes to come to a consensus on what approach to take as soon as possible so that the teams will be able to feed into capacity as quickly as possible. 

This will boost the capability of health services to deal with increasing numbers of patients with breathing difficulties. 

Besides that, leading brands from the automotive and aerospace industry have also been approached to help the cause. 

This includes industrial giants like Rolls Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, and Airbus.