In 2020 Formaplex was involved in a lifesaving initiative with BAE Systems. It’s now earned a prestigious BAE Systems Chairman’s Award for the innovative use of materials to produce the AirCare ventilator at volume.
The Chairman’s Award recognises excellence in successful innovations that support BAE Systems’ commitment to being a responsible business. It acknowledges the efforts and achievements of its employees, partners and customers.
Delivery times cut by 90%
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early part of 2020, the UK Government called on industry to develop fast solutions that would help save lives. BAE Systems called in Formaplex to provide essential components for its pioneering new ventilator and speed was of the essence as the pandemic took hold.
Formaplex was closely involved in the project to develop the AirCare, with teams working around the clock to provide essential components, slashing delivery times by 90%. By setting up a specialist task force, Formaplex rapidly delivered a suite of five injection mould tools and the first 100 parts in just eight days, a process which can usually take eight to ten weeks.
Delivering essential components
It meant that the ventilator was ready for production in just a few weeks, with Formaplex providing designs (design for manufacture optimisation), 3D printed prototype components and production injection mould tools.
The BAE Systems Maritime Services Division in Broad Oak was the selected location for the creation of a new production facility, capable of high volume production of over 1,000 of the new AirCare ventilators per week.
Formaplex Task Force
Speed and accuracy were of the essence to ensure the project’s success and the project had very stretching requests and deadlines.
To meet the tight deadlines, a specialist Formaplex ‘task force’ of designers, project managers, CNC machinists and toolmakers was formed. They worked 24/7, including over the Easter Bank Holiday. In order to comply with the strict social distancing measures in place at the sites, they worked in shifts on site and from home where possible, using technology such as video conferencing for essential meetings.
Adrian Chapman, Formaplex Engineering Director said:
“We’re proud of our reputation for fast, high quality delivery and the dedication of our people who make it happen. Everyone really went above and beyond in unprecedented times to make the impossible possible and this prestigious Chairman’s Award is a testament to that.
“We’re honoured to have been involved in this project and to have played a small part in helping the national effort to save lives,” he said.
Fortunately, ventilators were not needed in the numbers originally estimated by the Government. It means that the AirCare ventilator did not need large scale production for the UK’s immediate response to COVID-19.