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VentilatorChallengeUK delivers over 13,000 ventilators to the NHS

7 July 2020

VentilatorChallengeUK has marked the end of the consortium after delivering 13,437 ventilators to the NHS.

On Sunday 5th July, the work of VentilatorChallengeUK, the Consortium of UK aerospace, motorsport, automotive and medical businesses (of which Renishaw was a founding member) concluded after more than doubling the stock available to the UK's National Health Service (NHS). 

Formed on 19th March in response to the anticipated escalation in COVID-19 cases, the Consortium has worked with great determination and energy to deliver critical Penlon ESO 2 and Smiths paraPAC™ plus ventilators to the NHS throughout the crisis. In that time, the consortium:

  • Scaled-up production of the Penlon ESO 2 Emergency Ventilator device, which is based on proven clinical equipment, and the Smiths paraPAC Plus™. Both met clinicians' requirements as understanding of the virus progressed.
  • Established, from scratch, seven new large-scale manufacturing facilities at Airbus AMRC Cymru in Broughton, Ford in Dagenham, GKN Aerospace in Luton and Cowes, McLaren in Woking, Rolls-Royce in Filton and STI in Hook, as well as restructuring existing sites Smiths Medical in Luton and Penlon in Abingdon.
  • Ventilator peak production exceeded 400 devices a day, with the shortest time taken to achieve 1,000 ventilators being three days.
  • Set up new parallel supply chains and acquired around 42 million parts and electronic components through a complex logistics network that saw DHL design and implement an end-to-end supply chain in only 1.5 weeks.
  • Despite global competition for parts and lockdown challenges during the pandemic the team sourced part from over 22 countries, with the furthest distance travelled by a single part being 5,226 miles.
  • Achieved full MHRA approval for the Penlon ESO 2 device in just three weeks, becoming the first newly adapted ventilator design to be given regulatory authorisation as part of the UK Government's fight against COVID-19 and then going on the secure the international quality seal of approval by way of CE marking.
  • Recruited and trained a 3,500 front-line assembly team in a new age of social distancing, balancing the twin imperatives of speedy delivery with absolute adherence to the regulatory standards needed to ensure patient safety.

VentilatorChallengeUK made its last shipment of finished ventilators on Sunday 5th July after which Consortium businesses will return to regular production.

Dick Elsy, Chairman of VentilatorChallengeUK and CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said:

“What VentilatorChallengeUK has achieved in the space of twelve weeks is nothing short of incredible, creating and producing an approved product and setting up production facilities on this scale would normally take years. I am immensely proud of the energy, determination and ingenuity shown by every business in responding to this national need.

Together, we have helped ensure the NHS has always had access to the number of ventilators it needs, and we're pleased to have also contributed to building a resilient stock should ventilators be required in the UK in the future.

This coalition of the very best of this country's people and capability across different sectors has truly showcased the strength of the manufacturing industry in the UK. While we have now delivered all the required ventilators to the NHS, the Consortium is looking to capture lessons learned and share them across the engineering community – and with Government – as key tools to help UK industry get back on its feet after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.”

The UK Government's Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said:

“The Ventilator Challenge has been a great success and I would like to thank every manufacturer and designer, and their incredible workforces, for the huge part they've played in the national effort to protect our NHS and save lives. In around three months, industry has stepped up to make 14,000 new machines to save lives on the NHS frontline and to help safeguard against any future outbreak.

The Ventilator Challenge has shown that UK manufacturing always rises to the challenge at a time of national need. Everyone involved is truly a hero of the coronavirus crisis.”

The Renishaw contribution:

Renishaw was a founding member of the Consortium and produced components for both the Penlon and Smiths ventilators. Over just six weeks, at its Stonehouse and Miskin machine shops, operations ran 24/7 to manufacture 115,000 metal parts, produced on 30 CNC machine tools, with around 350 employees involved with the project. During this period more than 5 km of metal bar stock was consumed – the length of 50 football pitches – weighing around 25 tonnes – the weight of five African elephants. 


William Lee, Renishaw's Chief Executive, said, “I am proud of the part that Renishaw has played in this incredible effort to support the NHS at a time of national crisis and also the way that the wider engineering community has collaborated to achieve something that many thought was simply not possible.”

He concluded, “What has been highlighted through this project is that manufacturing is a vital sector of the economy and should be supported in the future as being of strategic national importance.” 

Consortium members:

Accenture, Airbus, AMRC Cymru, Arrow, DHL, Ford, GKN Aerospace, Haas F1, HVM Catapult, Inspiration Healthcare, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG F1, Meggitt, Microsoft, Newton, Penlon, PTC, Racing Point, Renault Sport Racing, Renishaw, Rolls-Royce, Siemens UK & Siemens Healthineers, Smiths Medical, STFC Harwell, STI, Thales, Unilever, Williams Advanced Engineering, Williams F1.

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