Spain retools to turn out desperately needed respirators

Workers at SEAT's Martorell plant in Catalonia have been redirected to assemble respirators. PHOTO: SEAT / La Vanguardia
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In the face of a critical shortage of respiratory ventilators in intensive care units (ICUs) across Spain, private and public entities are gearing up production to help Spanish healthcare workers save lives during Spain’s coronavirus crisis. When respiratory equipment such as a papr respirator, for example, was made, they were focused on war and harmful gases or toxins which would impact people’s breathing – whether civilians or soldiers. However, no one realized that a huge worldwide pandemic would be the event that most requires these ventilators for mass survival. In fact these days, many people are looking into ways to produce face masks similar to the N95 Mask Canada available on the market to help protect the workers, and at the same time all across Spain, the government’s Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) is working with 15 different companies to produce the thousands of respirators needed.

The Spanish company Hersill S.L., the largest manufacturer of respirators in Spain from a small workshop just outside Madrid, has upped its normal production of 10 respirators per week to 100 per day in an effort to meet skyrocketing demand as patients needing the apparatus swamp ICU units in Spanish hospitals. The company hopes to up production even more to be able to turn out 200 respirators each day.

In Catalonia, Spanish car manufacturer SEAT has retooled a production line that previously employed 150 workers assembling the front axle for its popular León car model in order to begin assembling respirators.


In less than a week, SEAT engineers worked through 13 different prototypes to settle on one that uses SEAT manufactured gears, axles from gearboxes and the motor of a windshield wiper to come up with a final product built with more than 80 separate components, dubbed OxyGEN.

? News Sources: La Vanguardia, El País and El Mundo …

And not only private companies are involved in the effort. In Andalucia, a multidisciplinary team made up of healthcare professionals, scientists and engineers at the Institute of Biomedical and Engineering Research at the University of Malaga use a prototype endorsed by the Ministry of Health to manufacture respirators for Andalusian hospitals.

The Malala university effort is currently turning out one respirator every two hours and has plans to ramp up production. In the vanguard of producing desperately needed medical equipment during the crisis, the Malaga university team is also producing 2,000 coronavirus test kits daily and has produced 5 million masks for healthcare workers to date.

Amongst the panic of accessing essential equipment for patients, researchers of the virus in laboratories either conducting more investigation into the pathogen or clinical trials into a new vaccine are in need of high quality equipment, including lab stirrers, in a bid to fight against COVID-19. The pressure is mounting for scientific researchers across the globe.

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