Densitron was contracted to provide TFT LCD displays for 10,000 ventilators being assembled in the UK.
One of the more heartening aspects during the global COVID-19 pandemic crises has been the enthusiastic response
by the manufacturing community to dramatically increase the need for medical devices. Companies of all kinds have
shown considerable flair and ingenuity in adapting their production lines to suit specific requests and satisfy the
challenges laid down by initiatives such as VentilatorChallengeUK.
Launched in March 2020, VentilatorChallengeUK called on companies to manufacture, design and build thousands of
NHS ventilators to enable hospitals across the country to cope with the greatly increased demand resulting from the
Coronavirus pandemic. Our client has a distinguished track record of delivering essential medical devices, including
infusion pumps, diagnostic equipment, patient monitors, CT scanners and MRI machines. It was therefore a natural
choice for the company to be contracted to make 10,000 ventilators.
Speed and reliability of delivery could hardly have been more critical for this project, so our client knew it had to engage the services of suppliers who would be able to provide high quality products at volume and to a schedule that called for the first units to roll off the production line as soon as possible. For the ventilator displays the company considered a number of vendors before deciding in favour of HMI, display and monitoring technology specialist Densitron, with whom it had collaborated successfully on a number of previous projects geared towards the medical market.
“There were a number of factors in our favour,” says Densitron Business Development Manager Richard Applin. “First and foremost, we could supply a suitable existing product – our recently introduced 3.5” TFT display – rapidly and
in the necessary quantity. They also knew that we were able to provide demo products immediately and could also commit to supplying large volumes within a matter of weeks.”
But multiple design features also commended the Densitron display for the ventilator project. In a medical environment, the ability to read a display easily and at different angles is crucial – requirements that this product addresses with its incorporation of the very latest In-Plane Switching (IPS) technology. Applin explains: “With IPS you have the benefit of having an alignment of the liquid crystal displays in parallel with the ITO (indium tin oxide) conductor layers within the mother glass. This makes it possible to achieve an all-round viewing angle.”
A resolution of 320x480 and a backlight yielding 600 Candela brightness also help to ensure superb visibility in the demanding and unpredictable hospital environment. The same goes for the display’s ability to operate effectively in an
extended temperature range of -20C to +70C.
Several other factors also played into the favour of the Densitron product, adds Applin: “Due to the extremely time sensitive nature of the project, it was important that the displays did not require customisation. Our 3.5” TFT displays were supplied for the ventilators as designed, whilst their slimline structure also made them easy to integrate into the chosen design. It was definitely a case of having the right product at the right time, and with the capacity to get in sufficient quantities.”
Densitron’s pivotal role in the ventilator project was also consistent with Managing Director Simon Jones’ recent assertion that the company would be giving priority to medically-oriented production during the current crisis. “The fact that we had already been prioritising medical sector manufacturing meant that we were in a very strong position in terms of having the capacity to deliver thousands of units per week,” says Applin.
Medical devices have constituted a growing market for Densitron for some years and currently account for 10-15% of the company’s annual business. With this latest project, the teams at Densitron HQ in the UK and the manufacturing facilities in China have the satisfaction not only of taking part in a landmark production initiative, but also one that will potentially save many thousands of lives during the coming months.
“We had staff working around the clock to ensure that we are able to meet the requirements of this project,” says Applin. “Everyone in our workforce recognised the huge importance of being able to deliver sufficient ventilator capacity so that medical staff on the frontline could save as many lives as possible. We were delighted that we could play a role in the massive manufacturing effort taking place across the UK and are honoured to have been a key part of the ventilator production.”