19 May 2020
From Zero to Zephyr Plus – Babcock Ventilator Team Update
Two months ago Babcock took up the urgent challenge from the UK Government to build ventilators for the NHS in the fight against COVID 19.
Despite no prior medical knowledge and no experience of building ventilators, a small team was formed and 60 days later that team has produced a clinical grade ventilator and devised a supply chain solution from scratch to roll it out.
Now, as the Babcock ventilator enters the final stages of testing, the team have opened up on their incredible journey.
Andy Mitchell and Chris Spicer, both former Babcock graduates, work in the Defence Systems Technology (DST) business. Andy, said: “Prior to this our knowledge of medical ventilators was zero. We just had no idea what we would be letting ourselves into. For me personally, to be part of the Babcock Ventilator Team has to be a career highlight.”
Despite challenges around moving deadlines and changes in clinical requirements and design specifications, the team persevered working through nights and weekends to meet the new demands. Chris, said: “The journey isn’t over, and we still haven’t reached the finish line but the Zephyr Plus is pretty incredible in terms of what we’ve achieved so far.
“We’ve had to operate as a virtual team to the outside world and take a completely new approach in establishing a supply chain process because of the huge global constraints facing the medical industry – and we’ve had to do all of this virtually in lockdown.”
Richard Drake, DST Managing Director, added: “To go from zero design to 10,000 machines in 100 days was the challenge. We’re at a point now where we’re just reflecting on what has been achieved so far. Every person and company we reached out to pulled out all the stops to support us and we’re deeply grateful.”
The team is working with a leading international medical partner on the project and a number of suppliers across the UK including Raytheon, RADA, Sovrin and MEC Medical. Assembly lines have been established and the first Zephyr Plus units are currently being tested and remain subject to MHRA regulatory approval by Government.
Richard added: “I love being at Babcock because I know that whatever we are challenged with, we can pretty much do it. Being on this team has proved that, whatever happens next.”