Brakes India gears up to make ventilators to fight Covid-19

Brakes India has started manufacturing a low-cost automated respiratory assist device – Sundaram Ventago – at its facility, joining hands with a clutch of partners like Sundaram Medical Foundation and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M), Kauvery Hospital, Madras Medical College and with guidance from global educational institutions like MIT, Boston.

Chennai: After making air braking systems for automobiles, city-based Brakes India Ltd is into making another life-saving device — a ventilator — to help fight coronavirus, a senior company official said on Tuesday.

Part of the TVS Group, Brakes India has started manufacturing a low-cost automated respiratory assist device – Sundaram Ventago – at its facility, joining hands with a clutch of partners like Sundaram Medical Foundation and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M), Kauvery Hospital, Madras Medical College and with guidance from global educational institutions like MIT, Boston.

“The idea came about to fulfil the immediate and increased demand for ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients. It all started about six weeks back. In collaboration with various organisations and institutions the final product is now ready,” Sriram Viji, Deputy Managing Director told IANS.

He said since there is lack of clarity on sourcing of ventilators by the government, it should specify its policy so that industries can scale up to meet the demand for such medical equipment.

A lot of planning is needed to scale up the production, which is not possible at the last moment, Viji said.

Though the company has branded the ventilator as Sundaram Ventago, Viji said whether Brakes India will get into this line of business on its own or outsource the product are yet to be decided.

“When approached, IIT-M readily put in a team for the project. We looked at various guidelines, including USFDA norms. We had several conference calls with officials at MIT, Boston,” Viji said.

He said the design was evolved over multiple stages using a rapid product development model where a cross-functional team worked with top anesthesiologists, pulmonologists and intensivists from leading hospitals to integrate clinical inputs into the design. The device is rugged and uses frugal engineering principles.

The device provides respiratory support to patients via controlled and automated squeezing of a self-inflating or AMBU bag and includes functionalities to control respiratory rate (breaths per minute), tidal volume, pressure parameters.

According to Viji, such ventilators are especially useful in remote and rural areas where healthcare facilities are not available.

The Sundaram Ventago works with or without compressed/hospital air and oxygen and requires only a standard power connection to operate (easy to use in non-ICU wards, ambulances, remote/rural areas).

The device can also be used in conjunction with a standard UPS and mounted on a crash cart, wheelchair, bed, in an ambulance to support patient mobility and used as an emergency transport ventilator.

The simple design comprises three major assemblies – the actuator unit, the electronic control module and the ambu bag with patient airway circuit.

Commenting on the technical collaboration, Jayaraj Joseph, faculty of Electrical Engineering at IIT-Madras said the ventilator offers greater precision than manual pumping, even with over 24 hours of continuous use.

The device is versatile and mobile. It constantly monitors and reports respiratory parameters that are important to clinicians and is very easy to use.

“It also provides the needed patient safety features such as audible alarms for line disconnection or in case PIP exceeds a certain threshold. We also performed a detailed risk analysis towards certification of the product,” Joseph said.

“We will be supplying the ventilator to our own Sundaram Medical Foundation, our health centres, Kauvery Hospital and Mehta Hospital,” Viji said.

He said the first batch of 25 units are under production and capacity can be scaled up to 100 units per day. Further increase in production depends on the government policy, he said.

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