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Manufacturers from around the world continue to ramp up efforts to help fight the coronavirus. The effort has led to new partnerships, employee resolve and lots of ingenuity.

SEAT workers produce ventilators

SEAT workers in Spain produce ventilators. (Image: SEAT)

The latest example is Volkswagen Group’s SEAT unit, which is converting a vehicle manufacturing facility in Spain—one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic—to produce desperately needed ventilators for hospitals. SEAT is working with several suppliers, university researchers and healthcare experts on the initiative.

A Ventilator Prototype

OxyGEN ventilator

A team of SEAT engineers designed 13 potential prototypes that could be built by adapting existing production processes and materials for use in the medical devices. It took only a week to find a viable system, according to the carmaker.

The new OxyGEN ventilator has more than 80 electronic and mechanical components, including gears, gearbox shafts and a modified windshield wiper motor—yes, a windshield wiper motor (below)—produced by SEAT.

The device is assembled on a line that previously was used to manufacture subframes for the popular Leon small car.

As part of the production process, each unit undergoes a thorough quality control check with ultraviolet light sterilization.

Team Effort in Spain    

SEAT says some 150 employees from four different areas of its Martorell plant are involved in the production process, using reconfigured workstations.

The carmaker worked with, a Barcelona-based testing and prototyping company, to design the ventilator. Other collaborators on the project include:

  • Spanish Agency of Medicines and Healthcare Products
  • Bosch
  • CMCiB
  • Doga Motors
  • Ficosa
  • LCOE
  • Luz Negra
  • Recam Laser
  • Secartys
  • University of Barcelona

Ventilators in Testing

The OxyGEN ventilators currently are being tested for approval by Spanish authorities.

Time is of the essence. As of March 31, there were 94,417 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Spain, with some 49,200 hospitalizations and 8,189 deaths, according to Spain’s Ministry of Health.

“The motivation of everyone participating in this project is that with our know-how we can mass-produce equipment that will save lives,” Nicolas Mora, a production worker involved in the project at the Martorell plant said.