Babcock International given special accolade for extraordinary engineering services during COVID-19

Babcock International Group (Babcock) has been recognised for ‘delivering the extraordinary’ by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) today for its work on the ventilator programme during the pandemic.

Babcock is one of a handful of companies to be given the Special President’s Award for Pandemic Service, specifically for its work on the ventilator challenge set by the UK Government back in March.

Despite no prior medical knowledge and no experience of building ventilators, Babcock formed a small team to take on the challenge. Within five days a demonstrator was in place, along with agreed assembly line partners and a housing design for the ventilator – known as the Zephyr Plus. The concept made use of non-medical components, including off-the-shelf oxygen sensors and pressure regulators. 

As well as producing a clinical grade ventilator, the team were recognised for their engineering and business ingenuity in establishing a new supply chain solution involving 39 suppliers and Ministry of Defence (MoD) logistics to roll it out. HRH, the Princess Royal and the country’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance, have praised the winners.

Upon hearing they had received the award, Babcock’s Managing Director of Technology, Dr Jon Hall, who led the team along with Dr Richard Drake, said: “We knew this was a once in a lifetime challenge we could and should rise to, despite the immense sacrifices the whole team went through.

“This project has brought out the best of Babcock. It’s shown how we respond with our technology prowess, engineering ingenuity and perhaps most importantly, how collaboration with our partners is the building block to success. I am incredibly proud of everyone in the Babcock Ventilator Team and we have shown what we are capable of achieving with our technology and our people.”

Dr Luc Bardin, Cabinet Office Crown Representative for Babcock and Lead Non-Executive Director for the Royal Brompton and prestigious NHS Foundation Trust, says: “The Babcock team operated in crisis mode. There have been no nights or weekends for them – they made everything needed possible; MoD logistics was mobilised in support and airports were kept open beyond their hours of operations. This was an ultimate test of resilience, notably demonstrated by the energy, collaboration and adaptability of the team as they responded to ever-evolving medical requirements.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest public health crisis of our time and has presented society with multiple challenges. Engineering expertise and innovation has been central to the global fight to save lives and protect livelihoods.”

Thankfully the UK Government has decided it no longer needs the ventilators, but Babcock would like to thank all its colleagues and suppliers from across the UK who have supported the project. The supplier team includes: 

  • Amtek-Precision:  tooling design
  • Armstrong Medical: medical consumables
  • Future Advanced Manufacture: key component manufacture
  • Kinneir Dufort: housing design and regulatory support
  • Kohler Mira Ltd: housing design, assembly and testing line
  • MEC Medical: medical consumables
  • PDD: housing design
  • Plexus: design support and electronic assembly
  • Raytheon UK: assembly and testing line
  • Sovrin: key component manufacture