Serendipity by Design
Three days for three iterations of a new respirator design starting from scratch with a geographically dispersed team! Another week for three iterations of working prototypes all of which have been under continuous testing for the past few days! All this under strict lockdown orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. How is this possible when it takes over 100 man-years to design full featured ICU ventilators? Here is the rest of the story.
Clearpack (www.clearpack.com) is a Singapore based technical powerhouse and a world leader in designing and deploying custom Packaging machines for various FMCG industries with one of its factories in Greater Noida in India.
PARC (www.atmanirbhar.org), PilaniAtmaNirbhar Resource Center, is a social incubator and service provider with the mission of community development in and around Pilani, Rajasthan.
So, what do these two organizations have in common? Nothing, except that both were founded and are run by BITS Pilani alumni. And that’s the spark that lit a fire!
During the COVID-19 lockdown period when the need for low cost, rapidly designed, stripped down ventilators became apparent, these two powerhouses got together to take on the task online. Led brilliantly by Clearpack CEO, Govind Bhandari, a geographically dispersed team was quickly assembled to complement the talented Clearpack workforce. Four doctors to advise on the clinical aspects, a ventilator design veteran (also a BITS alumnus) to advise on the technical aspects, a medical electronics expert from Italy and various others to fill the different roles required.
In addition to the technical challenges, there were some unique challenges posed by the lockdown orders in force. Factories were closed, technical teams could not meet face-to-face, important components could not be sourced etc. This is where the vast BITS alumni network came into play. All these issues were tackled and resolved on a war footing by connecting with different alumni who were uniquely qualified for the task at hand. We must also acknowledge the facilitation by the Greater Noida authorities which was crucial to this project.
The result is that today we have a working prototype of RESPIMATIC 100, a low-cost emergency respirator system that has been undergoing stress tests continuously for the past number of days. And holding up extremely well! The RESPIMATIC 100 is designed to fit in the huge capability gap between a hand powered Ambu bag and a full featured ventilator. There are many situations where a complex ventilator is either unavailable or unaffordable but a hand powered Ambu bag falls way short of the need. The need for such a device will continue well beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic especially in remote parts of India.
No doubt it will need refinement as it undergoes tests. No doubt that the certification process is arduous. No doubt there will be unexpected challenges. But that is what this team is geared up for. All in all, a great example of what large hearts, determination and collaboration can do.
“I would like to thank all the people below on behalf of Clearpack. Our gratitude and sincere thanks to ...” Govind Bhandari, Clearpack Group CEO
And everyone else who made this happen in such a short time.