How agility and scalability are helping protect frontline NHS workers

Posted on 6 Apr 2020 by Jonny Williamson

In less than seven days, engineers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) have prototyped, developed and seen operational a rapidly scalable new intubation shield for use with ventilators.

An opportunity to minimise the risk of exposure to Covid-19 for frontline staff involved in both the intubation and extubation processes has been identified by senior NHS practitioners.

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) develops and proves innovative manufacturing processes and technologies in an agile, low risk environment. It does so by utilising some of the most advanced manufacturing equipment in the world and leveraging its team of highly skilled engineers, many of whom are leading experts in their field.

The combination of these two capabilities  makes the MTC, one of the UK’s seven High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres, ideally suited to quickly and effectively develop and demonstrate new processes and solutions – exactly what the current situation calls for.

Working in collaboration with expert medical consultant practitioners, Rolls-Royce, and supported by Innovate UK, the MTC has spent the past week using everything at its disposal to prototype, develop and test new a intubation shield for use with ventilators.

It’s anticipated that the NHS may need several thousand of these shields, with the MTC set to manufacture the first batch of up to a thousand units.

MTC is currently mobilising resources to ramp up immediate capacity to upwards of 200 units a day, which can be quickly scaled up across multiple supply chains in order to meet higher demands.

The shield has undergone multiple design changes following trials in three hospitals which has helped development from the initial prototype through to the manufacture of the first production units.

Potential wider applications for the shield have reportedly also been identified by medical professionals, beyond Covid-19 intubation and extubation procedures. This means they could also potentially be used in intensive care/treatment units (IC/TU’s) and operating theatres, further aiding the safety of front-line medical staff.

MTC Intubation Shield - Empty

A technical pack for a flat-pack Intubation Shield is already available for download.

Further technical packs, including drawings and assembly instructions, are set be published in the next two to three days by the MTC, ensuring other manufacturers also have access to these designs which will be open source.

In addition, the shields will also be made available as flat-pack self-assembly kits which can be deployed quickly and assembled on-site with ease.

*All images and video courtesy of MTC