AUTOMATION heavyweight, Omron has taken part in the development of an emergency ventilator in a project spearheaded by TheOpenVentilator, a non-profit organisation who produces artificial ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.
The new ventilators are being built in Spain to help patients who need mechanical ventilation.
This project was piloted by Celera, a youth science program based in Madrid, the capital of Spain. The device is designed to achieve mass-production prioritising the safety of the patient, shortening production-time, keeping production-costs low and high-availability of required parts.
The ventilator was developed in less than two weeks by TheOpenVentilator, following considerable R&D efforts. It is already being tested in a clinical trial on patients at Hospital de Alcorcón in Madrid and Vall d´Hebron in Barcelona.
According to Omron, the new device is similar to commercial ventilators that are already available and is more advanced than those currently used as an emergency solution in field hospitals. It incorporates a machine learning feature that allows it to learn and adjust its performance to
medical needs in real time.
Mass production of the ventilator will be possible at a significantly lower cost than for current ventilators on the market. This is due to the collaboration of a consortium of companies that have shared their facilities, staff and components in Madrid and Barcelona. Omron has contributed to this by sharing its expertise with electronic equipment for the healthcare industry, along with Fabrez, Igus and Finsa.
“Our goal has been to create a solution, equivalent to the commercial ventilators that are already approved, that can be trusted by medical specialists,” said Javier Asensio, Medical Coordinator of TheOpenVentilator, and a doctor at Hospital 12 de Octubre.
“It is not just a simple portable ventilator used by a field hospital to get through the crisis,” said Javier González, Materials Engineer and head of the project. “What we have achieved is a robust and functional device, at a very low cost and with scalable production capacity.”
Omron’s Sysmac Controller has been a key element of its approach, due to its technical characteristics. It allows healthcare professionals to implement the most widely used ventilation methods in mainstream ventilators, by combining advanced process regulation and machine learning. This allows the movements of the servo drive for the ventilation mechanism to be adapted to meet each patient’s needs.
It also includes a seven-inch screen that shows the air pressure and flow in real time. All of these components are integrated into the Sysmac Automation Platform, which guarantees coordination between the different components.
Raúl Nicolás, Robotics Solutions Engineer at Omron Iberia, said: “We are very proud of the R&D engineers, who have voluntarily taken part in the project. This is a crucial moment to demonstrate the harmony between companies, institutions and people. Our four colleagues have been working hard since 23 March, day and night, in order to create the best possible ventilator to help the people who need it the most in this unprecedented health crisis.”