How We Produced More Than 400,000 Ventilator Parts & Assemblies in Only 10 Weeks
Nearly a year ago to the day, the world was facing the first wave of a deadly new strain of the coronavirus, and those of us in America were beginning to come to grips with just how much of an impact this was going to have on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
Hospitals were quickly filling up in state after state, with major cities already having to turn people away. Administrators were struggling with a complete shortage of beds, and—more importantly—the life-saving ventilators they needed to get their patients through the worst of it.
At the onset of the pandemic, hospitals across the country had roughly 200,000 ventilators, most of which were already in use by long-term care patients. With early estimates showing that around 6% of those infected with COVID-19 would get critically sick, and 1-in-4 of them needing a ventilator to breathe, it was clear that something would need to be done—and fast.
The immediate strain on U.S. manufacturing
With automotive companies being months away from providing assistance, the initial burden of ventilator production fell on existing U.S.-based medical device manufacturers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them were unable to meet the exponential demand.
Luckily, the team at Lake Air is cut from a different cloth. Even though we were significantly understaffed and in need of more advanced assembly lines and equipment, we knew we could find a way to make it work.
We also had our existing customers to consider, as we couldn’t just let their projects fall by the wayside. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we also knew that Lake Air had to step up to get the job done right.
The Lake Air solution
From day one, the Lake Air team was all on board and up to the daunting task ahead of them. We knew there wasn’t one single solution that would help us reach our lofty production goals—it would take the combined efforts of our operators, managers, and design engineers across all of our facilities.
To produce as many ventilator parts and assemblies as we possibly could, the Lake Air team:
- Designed, developed, and qualified 8 new stamping tools
- Implemented 3 additional assembly lines
- Purchased a new state-of-the-art laser welder
- Installed 3 robotic units to assist with manufacturing
- Hired and trained in over 30 new employees
In addition to all that, our team worked harder and longer than perhaps they ever have before, sacrificing many nights and weekends for the cause. We can’t even begin to thank them enough for everything they’ve done over the past 12 months, but we can certainly try—thank you!
Our monumental results
It wasn’t long before we were able to ramp up to 24/7 production in multiple Lake Air facilities. In only 10 weeks’ time, we were able to ship out over $9.5 million in ventilator parts and assemblies!
Word was definitely starting to get around. In fact, two other local suppliers began sending us additional metalwork that they simply couldn’t get done on their own.
Not only did we ship out these 400,000 metal parts and assemblies under cost and ahead of schedule, but we even outpaced the production of the ventilators themselves!
A slow return to “normal"
With the COVID-19 pandemic finally starting to wind down—due in large part to the influx of successful vaccinations—the demand for ventilators in hospitals is slowly returning to the level it once was.
Thankfully, that means metal fabricators like us are free to return to business as usual. Of course, it would be impossible not to reflect back on what this whole situation has taught us.
While we certainly hope something like this never happens again in our lifetime, it’s good to know that if the need does arise, we’ll be there ready to face it.
Choose Lake Air for your medical and life science metal fabrication needs
Our medical industry expertise and state-of-the-art equipment enable us to produce tight tolerance components and full assemblies for everything from medical trays and custom metal cabinets to laser equipment and CPUs.
Where other metal fabricators fail, Lake Air Products can manufacture the difficult and complicated parts and chassis your medical equipment needs, all with superior precision and repeatability. Contact us today to get started.