Coronavirus pandemic triggers shortages of ventilators worldwide. Governments have requested automakers for making ventilators to help relieve the burden on hospitals inflicted by the coronavirus epidemic.
What are the challenges automakers would face in making ventilators?
COVID-19 has generated substantial demand for ventilators across the globe. Especially with the number of accidents that occur across the world, the availability of existing ventilators is clearly not adequate to support the volume of expected accidents. It has been proposed that automakers step in to re-use their factories to manufacture additional ventilators.
Several automotive manufacturers such as Tesla, General Motors and Ford, are in a position to start making ventilators. But it is not that simple as ventilators have a different technique than the automobile manufacturing process. Their expertise may not be in the manufacturing of complex, sterilized parts, but they have the experience to handle comprehensive supply chains that could be utilized to support the current ventilator supplier scale up output. Automotive industries would require months to set up and produce ventilators.
On the other hand, ventilators tend to be built in sterile rooms where the degree of cleanliness is far greater than in the typical car paint booth. The medical instruments are very complex machines on which people lives rely. Therefore, every phase of the production cycle must be accurate.
Secondly, the training staff will take up to 9-10 months to build the ventilators on a large scale, and every proposed production plant will first be approved by various authorities that can take up to around 180 days.
Other barriers remain too as ventilators utilize extremely advanced single-use respiratory tubings and masks made of medical-grade materials and many of these parts are assembled overseas in Costa Rica, Japan, and South Korea and indeed in China. The transportation of ventilators can be another issue due to limited cargo routs are in operation