Government orders 10k ventilators from Dyson

(bbc.co.uk)

38 points | by mgreenleaf 178 days ago

12 comments

  • bacon_waffle 178 days ago

    "Meanwhile, the consortium of medical, military and civil engineering companies - which includes Airbus, Meggit, GKN and others - is working to ramp up the production of an existing design."

    This is such a relief!

    • lnsru 178 days ago

      “Dyson has had hundreds of engineers working round the clock to design the ventilators from scratch.”

      It blows my mind. Everybody now, instead of cooperating, tries to design a perfect ventilator.

      • PJDK 178 days ago

        Dyson are working with Technology Partnership, a medical device manufacturer. Presumably they're working on a new design that takes advantage of the existing tooling and parts that Dyson have.

        There's another consortium working to ramp up production of existing designs - seems sensible to try both approaches.

        • lnsru 178 days ago

          This sounds convincing. Though Dyson’s products do not have much in common with medical equipment. Hair dryer or vacuum cleaner has other power level than ventilator for the lungs.

          • PJDK 178 days ago

            That seems like a compelling case for a different design - doing something so that the existing motors can be used. Hopefully when all this blows over we'll have some interesting books and articles to read!

            • erinaceousjones 178 days ago

              Well, both require lots of high grade flexible plastic tubing and benefit from things like HEPA filters. The only difference is the motor -- but Dyson also manufacture low-power fans en masse, so they've got many different breeds of motors in stock.

          • ekianjo 178 days ago

            > instead of cooperating

            Sometimes cooperation takes a whole more time than doing things by yourself if you know exactly what needs to be done. Adding more groups/interactions typically slow down delivery.

            • mygo 177 days ago

              Agreed. As I understand it, Dyson’s ventilators are ready for scaled production. Maybe they can begin to collaborate with others down the road, but time was essential, and they were clearly able to get these out without a lot of unnecessary phone tag.

            • altacc 178 days ago

              I know what you're saying, but in this instance there's a fairly good technology & manufacturing fit between ventilators and Dyson's other products. More so than some car manufacturers.

              Dyson's core business and knowledge involves small devices which move and filter air, often on battery power (yes, I'm simplifying!). So designing something that reuses their existing technology with minimal retooling of the factory might well be easier and quicker than adapting their factory to an existing design.

              • wccrawford 178 days ago

                From what I understand, Dyson is not trying to "design a perfect ventilator." He's trying to design a cheaper, easier-to-produce ventilator that will be good enough for many situations, vastly improving the availability of ventilators for all who need it.

                Everyone else seems to be just working on producing the existing, hard-to-produce ventilator.

                • martyvis 178 days ago

                  One thing I particularly fell in love about the Dyson vacuum (DC29) we bought about 5 years ago was how easily serviced it was. We burned out a motor and everything about the machine was designed for simple manufacture and serviceability. There weren't random cables and screws going every which way. Following a servicemans YouTube, everything clicked apart and back together again. The plastic tooling was very precise. I imagine using those principles for medical apparatus will help in manufacturing consistency, ability to clean and service. They might even find themselves a whole new business path after this. (I'm expecting Elon's similar foray will have equal opportunity for innovation - though I have never been in the position to pull apart a Tesla!)

                • jonrimmer 178 days ago

                  There is a separate, co-operative effort by a consortium of manufacturers to improve and mass produce an existing ventilator design.

                  But with a project of this importance, while it makes sense to pool resources, you can't realistically have every company and every engineer co-operating on the same project. So it also makes sense to have several, independent efforts running in parallel.

                  • Slartie 178 days ago

                    This does make sense. Every company that normally doesn't produce ventilators but wants to make lots of them fast must repurpose as much of its existing tech (production lines, parts etc.) as possible. This requires intimate knowledge of private tech, which only internal teams have.

                    • michaelt 178 days ago

                      It depends on what the hospitals' requirements really are.

                      Can they make do with go2vent-style gas operated products [1], which have no electronics?

                      If so, that's a very different situation to if hospitals need products with oil-free compressors and motors and PCBs and screens and power supplies and air filtering and pressure sensors and...

                      [1] https://www.vortran.com/go2vent

                    • huffmsa 178 days ago

                      It has to fit their manufacturing process.

                      Which was likely the bulk of the man hours. Taking a spec sheet, and figuring out how to make it work with existing tooling and processes so they don't have to wait to retool the factory.

                      • godzillabrennus 178 days ago

                        Not everyone has the same raw materials, machinery, and/or budgets to work with.

                        It doesn’t make sense to collaborate when you are Dyson and can rely on in house everything to get going.

                        • jonplackett 178 days ago

                          You have to consider, some of these might not get made in time or be unreliable. Having a few different baskets of eggs might be good.

                        • DanBC 178 days ago

                          The government turned down an offer from the EU because Europe which is a bit worrying.

                          There are plenty of medical equipment manufacturers in the UK who've made these exact products before, or very similar products, and who know the rules and regulations well. They've offered to help, but not heard anything back from the government.

                          https://twitter.com/BBCNewsnight/status/1242949236762738692

                          These are the kinds of things that we will have to hold the government to account for at some point.

                          • gridlockd 178 days ago

                            > There are plenty of medical equipment manufacturers in the UK who've made these exact products before, or very similar products, and who know the rules and regulations well. They've offered to help, but not heard anything back from the government.

                            You're extrapolating a lot here. That's one guy showing up on TV, presumably running a small medical equipment company, who got into contact with someone at the DTI, who told him to fill out a form on a website. He did, but there was no followup. The end.

                            Note that he also says he can't actually ramp up production that quickly, that he relies on subcontractors that aren't available, and so on. I don't see what the government can actually do for him, besides ordering something that he can't produce at bigger capacity anyway.

                            A company like Dyson could presumably produce the whole thing in-house. A zoo of interdependent companies may be more efficient at small scales, but at large scales, logistics becomes the bottleneck.

                            • altacc 178 days ago

                              Dyson and others efforts are additional to the two ventilator manufacturers in the UK, who have already received orders for about as much as they can produce.

                              From the article: "...the government thinks it can procure a further 8,000 from existing domestic and international suppliers"

                              • DanBC 178 days ago

                                Yes, but those 8000 orders are piecemeal from any supplier that has any kind of stock, a few hundred here, a few dozen there. There's not a coordinated drive to support those manfs to increase their production.

                                As you say, the Dyson effort was a separate programme. Existing medical equipment manufacturers -companies that make medical equipment but not necessarily these ventilators at the moment- tried to apply to that separate scheme and they were ignored. The money went to Dyson or car makers. It's probably better to spend the money on companies that already make medical products and help them increase their capacity than it is to spend it on car makers and Dyson who'll need to re-tool their factories and re-train their staff.

                              • dmos62 178 days ago

                                Mind bending. Hope it's a one-off case.

                                • arethuza 178 days ago

                                  It was reported this morning that the Dyson order is in addition to sourcing them from existing suppliers.

                                • bobowzki 178 days ago

                                  I'm an intensivist and I really hope that ventilator won't be mounted on the bed like they show in the picture. That's a very bad idea, you need that space to access the patient.

                                  • ksangeelee 178 days ago

                                    One of the requirements reads:

                                    "Ideally small and light enough to mount on patient bed and orientation independent functioning."

                                    While floor mounted operation is the mandatory requirement, it seems that it's not always a bad idea to have it mounted on the bed.

                                    • bobowzki 178 days ago

                                      It's normally mounted at the short ends. Not the sides.

                                  • midgetjones 178 days ago

                                    Didn't Dyson move all his manufacturing to Singapore at the same time as loudly espousing Brexit?

                                    Waiting for the v2 of the ventilator that has a ball attached, and costs an extra £100.

                                    • arethuza 178 days ago

                                      Whatever his views on Brexit (and I am Remainer), I think credit should be given to Dyson and his team - they are going to be manufactured in the UK and he is paying with his own money for 4000 of these ventilators to be donated to other countries:

                                      https://www.ft.com/content/4cc667f2-6ee2-11ea-89df-41bea0557...

                                      • viklove 176 days ago

                                        Wow, I'm sure the millions of dollars he's gonna make from the 10k ventilators has no impact on his motivation.

                                      • ksangeelee 178 days ago

                                        He moved his head office to Singapore around the time he was pushing the UK to leave the EU. Manufacturing had already been moved offshore years before that - Malaysia as I recall, though probably elsewhere too.

                                      • amlozano 178 days ago

                                        How hard are these things to build? It certainly looks like a complicated medical device, but is there a simpler DIY version that gets the job done?

                                        • ksangeelee 178 days ago

                                          Here is the very high level specification that the government has provided. It refers to various further specifications and regulations that the device must comply with in order to be accepted by medics.

                                          https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...

                                          You can see that the hardest part isn't so much the mechanics, but the parameters within which the device must operate, including safeguards on multiple conditions.

                                          From a software point of view alone, I'm sure most of us here can appreciate the difficulty in producing this from scratch. e.g. "It must have 100% duty cycle for up to 14 days".

                                          I suspect a huge challenge will be sourcing components, such as pressure sensors, that meet the required specifications. These seem likely to be specialised parts.

                                          • redka 178 days ago

                                            I read this the other day[1]. See challenges listed in the middle. It does seem like it's not very easy at all.

                                            [1] https://hackaday.com/2020/03/25/ventilators-101-what-they-do...

                                            • me551ah 178 days ago

                                              Indian companies are working on some simpler versions which would cost about 100$.

                                              https://twitter.com/anandmahindra/status/1243074972660027392

                                              • nutjob2 178 days ago

                                                I think the hard part is that it has to run continuously, reliably and within tight tolerances or someone dies.

                                              • dirtyid 178 days ago

                                                So are ventilators actually complicated and frequently modernized equipment or medical TI83s. I was reading one the largest expenditures of PPEs in China after they resolved the supply issue was adjusting ventilator settings. Seems like a wired or wireless interface would go a long way.

                                                • 6nf 178 days ago

                                                  The ventilator settings they're referring to are basically 2 variables: The number of breaths per minute, and the volume of air pumped for each breath.

                                                  As the patient wakes up or goes to sleep etc you may need to adjust the ventilator again so that they're comfortable.

                                                  It's just a labour intensive job.

                                                  • khjklehti 178 days ago

                                                    Could you have something like the pain medication button, where the pacient has an up/down button to tweak the settings?

                                                    • mantap 178 days ago

                                                      No, not least because the patient is usually paralyzed so that they aren't fighting the ventilator.

                                                  • gridlockd 178 days ago

                                                    Presumably you would want to be with the patient during adjustment.

                                                  • dmos62 178 days ago

                                                    Are there estimates for how many ventilators coutries are targeting?

                                                    • MatthewWilkes 178 days ago

                                                      Well, at least the Dyson PR department is working hard. Shame their tech is shoddy at best.

                                                      • jonplackett 178 days ago

                                                        CoVent™

                                                        Excellent naming.

                                                        • anonsubmit2671 178 days ago

                                                          They will cost 50k£ each, support Bluetooth, look like a whale, not be repairable, lack necessary features, and last just until the 2 year warranty expires.

                                                          I hope AvE tears one down and rips them a new sphincter.

                                                          • jayflux 178 days ago

                                                            I think the 2 year warranty is the last of the govts worries right now.

                                                            • jonplackett 178 days ago

                                                              I'd take 1 year at this point.

                                                            • KaiserPro 178 days ago

                                                              withouth a meaningful time line, this is all noise.

                                                              its a totally new design, which means its going to have to be re-certified.

                                                              The UK has had 2 months head start, 1 month if you take italy as a warning, 2 if you treat the "YOLO LETS JUST LET IT BURN THROUGH THE POPULACE."as a starting point.