Coventry businesses answer Government’s plea to manufacture ventilators

Businesses across Coventry are stepping up to offer their services and expertise to help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Manufacturers in Coventry and Warwickshire are ready to answer the call to support the Government’s drive to make new ventilators to help in the fight against Coronavirus.

The Government is looking for businesses who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components as well as businesses specialising in design, rapid prototyping, contract or product assembly, certification, regulation, testing, logistics and medical training.

Following the appeal, Brown & Hawthorne Engineering and Sarginsons Industries in Coventry were among the first of nearly 30 companies to contact the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub.

Vicki Walls is the managing director of Brown & Hawthorne Engineering in Spitfire Close which was set-up in 1955, who led a management buyout alongside Troy Poole three years ago after they both joined the company as 17-year-olds.

The business manufacture parts for the motor industry with its CNC, 3D, 5 Axis and grinding machines for its customers including Mercedes, Ricardo and AP Racing.

She said: “We have the facilities and our skills are transferrable to make ventilators for the NHS and I think in these difficult times, everyone should come together.

“We have produced medical parts in the past for Molins who make the machines that put the powder into capsules so we are familiar with the industry.

“All the processes in the motor and medical industries are the same, it is just a different shaped product which is being manufactured, so it is not a problem to switch. The only difference will be the stringent health and safety measures which we’re happy to accommodate.

“We have 12 staff and we’re following the Government’s guidelines by keeping apart and staggering breaks so we’re being as safety conscious as possible.”

Gavin Shipley, Sarginsons Technology Centre Manager of Sarginsons Industries based in Torrington Avenue, said: “If the ventilators require an aluminium cast and machined housings, bases or support brackets, we would like to support with rapidly supplied sand-cast components.

“We have supplied safety-critical components to the oil and gas industry and also have experience with the medical sector. We could move very quickly on this.

“In terms of the pattern tooling for the parts, we believe we could get those very quickly from another supplier in Warwickshire, which would help to speed up the process.

“We are very keen to support this effort and have given the CWLEP Growth Hub information on our expertise and capacity to help if we can.”

Craig Humphrey, managing director of the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the response to the appeal from businesses in Coventry and Warwickshire had been staggering.

He said: “The response to the Government’s appeal to manufacture ventilators has been fantastic and we thank all the manufacturers in Coventry and Warwickshire for their offers of help.

“We are coordinating this with manufacturers’ organisation Make UK to pass on this vital information to the Government.

“We also put out a plea on behalf of the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire in Walsgrave to provide goggles and protective screens on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and we received over 1,500 responses in 24 hours which is amazing.

“The level of support despite these difficult times is fantastic and if we continue to pull together, we will be helping to provide the NHS with the medical equipment needed to benefit people who have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus.”

Charlotte Horobin, regional director for the Midlands and East of England of Make UK, said: “Manufacturers are playing a key role in supporting the national effort, supplying vital medical equipment and also adapting their operations where possible and I’ve personally been inundated with companies contacting me asking how they can possibly help.

“Through our close links to Government, we’ve been working to ensure manufactures expertise is used in fighting the very current challenge of Coronavirus. 

“It’s also been extremely heartening to hear most businesses are looking to lend the services of their business.”

ANT Industries Ltd in Atherstone and Assembled Electronic Solutions in Stratford-upon-Avon were also among the companies who got in touch with the CWLEP Growth Hub as well as industrial cleaners Warwick-based Leadec who are offering to clean schools and colleges for free.