A new group of niche automotive manufacturers and suppliers in Australia are adapting their skills to make medical equipment during the COVID-19 crisis.
Three locally-owned and operated businesses have put their minds together to begin production of hospital beds in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
US medical giant Stryker put the request to the Australian Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), who quickly assembled a trio of local manufacturers who have the capability to produce patient beds here before exporting them overseas.
The AMGC is a federally-backed organisation that usually assists the manufacturing brains of Australia. However, they’ve turned to uniting them under a common goal - the COVID-19 pandemic.
A partnership has been created between:
• AmTek Australia – a leader in specialist vehicle conversions, including ambulances,
• Fallshaw Wheels & Castors – a specialist in wheels and movement enabling equipment, and
• Varley Group – makes equipment for fire engines and police vehicles
The new partnership with the three Australian firms comes as Ford Australia has rehired up to 50 former factory workers to assemble 100,000 medical face shields (pictured below), which the company is donating to healthcare workers across the nation.
Registered for use with the Australian Therapeutic Good Administration (TGA) standards, the Emergency Relief Bed has been designed to accommodate patients in respiratory distress and provides critical surge capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said within six days Stryker South Pacific, in partnership with AMGC, mapped a local supply chain to adapt the design, create prototypes and begin production of the Emergency Relief Bed in Australia.
“This rapid response is an incredible feat and shows how Aussie companies are quickly working together in the face of this unprecedented pandemic,” Minister Andrews said.
“The fact that these beds can be manufactured from readily available components, shipped and stored as flat-packs and then assembled on-site with hand tools demonstrates the kind of ingenuity that is helping Australia respond effectively to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Not only does this innovation highlight how local producers are supporting our hospitals and ‘pop-up’ care facilities with equipment during this time, but also the potential to support the health-care capacity of our Pacific neighbours if needed.”
Managing Director of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, Dr Jens Goennemann said, “The ability of Australia’s manufacturing sector to respond in times of crisis demonstrates just how strong and adaptable our manufacturing industry is.
“Via the Stryker project, AMGC has linked a 130-year-old fabrication business, to a 120-year-old Australian mattress manufacturer and a 100-year-old Australian caster company, all of whom are working side-by-side to deliver an advanced manufacturing solution to address the current COVID-19 crisis – it’s innovation and collaboration at its finest,” Dr Goennemann said.
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