Panasonic Manufacturing UK’s facility in Cardiff has produced 80 prototype breathing devices to assist hospital patients suffering from COVID-19.
The CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device was designed by Dr Rhys Thomas at Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen and Maurice Clarke of Ammanford-based engineering firm CR Clarke & Co.
In a statement the company said staff worked around the clock in response to a Welsh Government request to procure parts and produce the units for regulatory approval and use in clinical trials.
The device has been given initial approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Clinical trials are ongoing and the Panasonic facility is on standby to produce a 1,000 more devices if required.
The CPAP unit provides a controlled flow of positive pressure, highly oxygenated air to coronavirus patients, helping to improve their blood oxygen levels. The breathing aid can reduce the number of patients requiring invasive mechanical ventilation in Intensive Care Unit treatment.
Staff at Panasonic assisted in the refinement of the design, procurement of parts and manufacturing. The team, from the Mobile Solutions Business, which normally produces rugged notebooks and tablets, and the Home Appliance Division, created the new production line for the CPAPs in two days. The prototypes were delivered three weeks after receiving the initial request for support.
“We reached out to the Welsh Government to see if we could use our skills and facilities to help in these difficult times and they responded with this request,” said Robert Blowers, Panasonic Home Appliance Division Director. “The team has worked public holidays and weekends to make it work and it was great to see how people from the different businesses across our very diverse site came together to answer the challenge. We are standing by to mass produce the devices but, of course, are hoping that they will never be required.”
Staff at the Panasonic facility answered another request by the Welsh Government to carry out Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing and reporting on a new Oximeter developed by the University of South Wales to measure levels of oxygen in the blood. The company’s engineers have also used 3D printers to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the NHS.