Reimagining Formulation 1 Manufacturing to Construct a Respiratory Gadget

This is how the Mercedes Formulation 1 engineering workforce used tech experience to reverse engineer CPAP respiration support gadgets in response to COVID-19.

Picture: Pixabay

Data from real-time information streams drives almost each facet of Formulation 1 racing and informs the core expertise of the F1 business — from fast design and prototype manufacture to testing and expert meeting.

F1 loves a deadline — you’re both prepared by race time otherwise you lose the race. Because the coronavirus took maintain in early March of 2020, it was showtime — a name to arms for the F1 group to harness its know-how and band along with the British authorities to assist the manufacture of respiratory gadgets in an effort known as Challenge Pitlane.

With the Australian Grand Prix canceled, we wasted no time. As a part of the initiative, the Mercedes-AMG Excessive Efficiency Powertrains workforce entered right into a partnership with College Faculty London to reverse engineer a Steady Optimistic Airway Strain (CPAP) respiration support gadget for COVID-19 sufferers — gaining regulatory approval, bettering the prevailing mannequin and manufacturing 10,000 life-saving CPAP gadgets for the Nationwide Well being Service very quickly flat.

Following are 4 insights alongside that journey from mid-March to mid-April — about making one thing completely different utilizing your current expertise and infrastructure, and about standing up an pressing collaboration throughout groups inside and outdoors a company.

A race to ‘go’ time. If ever there was a check of our means to get one thing accomplished shortly that’s by no means been accomplished earlier than, this was it. Usually, Mercedes-AMG HPP designs and manufactures engines and powertrains for Formulation One, Formulation E and high-performance hybrid highway automobiles. To have the ability to manufacture 10,000 CPAP gadgets quick, your entire know-how middle was repurposed. Machines used to construct parts for F1 engines had been re-programmed to construct the CPAP gadget.

There are about 24 parts within the respiration support we made, in comparison with greater than 25,000 in a full energy unit that races in a Formulation One automotive. However we used precisely the identical ISO 9,001 course of for guaranteeing each half.

It took the mission group lower than 100 hours from first discussions concerning the idea to finish the design, manufacturing, and testing of the primary prototype. Total, it took simply 4 weeks from the preliminary assembly till all 10,000 gadgets for the NHS had been manufactured on the Mercedes-AMG HPP know-how middle in Brixworth, UK. It’s a testomony to teamwork and to the humility we observe day by day.

The mindset of engineers. The important thing message from College Faculty was to re-engineer an current gadget, so we might go quick and achieve medical approval shortly fairly than be “intelligent.”

Formulation 1 has an excessive tradition of engineering by way of each options and time scales, so the match with the UCL workforce was good.  Assessing the necessity based mostly on the expertise of Italy, the place they had been already in use for COVID sufferers, the workforce concluded it could have to make a thousand models a day to essentially have an effect in UK hospital settings because the virus took maintain.

As curious engineers usually do, the workforce began merely with a Google search and turned up a service handbook after which a tool to purchase on eBay, utilizing a CT scan to see inside particulars and dimensions.  Operations Director Richard Stevens and his workforce assessed each single facet of the enterprise to steer our strategy. The primary physique and a few different components had been made at our Brixworth plant. The remainder got here from specialist suppliers.

Robots carried the gadgets from the sub meeting space all the way down to the check space and from there to the dispatch space. In complete, a dozen engineers labored on it from the design stage by means of to the event and testing stage. When it got here time for manufacture and meeting, we had about 200 individuals from across the enterprise working in three shifts across the clock.

Relationships are every part. We had been proud to be a part of a longtime ecosystem of partnerships spanning engineers, well being care, and business able to be mobilized in instances of want. The Mercedes HPP workforce and engineers and clinicians from College Faculty labored collectively around the clock at UCL’s engineering hub. A small life sciences manufacturing firm known as Oxford Optronix additionally jumped in, retooling its facility to develop and crank out a number of thousand bedside monitoring techniques for our CPAP gadget. In F1 racing, the very best driver in the very best machine wins. And ‘greatest machine’ means greatest know-how. One of the best drivers can solely carry out if they’ve quick, environment friendly entry to dependable information. Our know-how companions like Pure Storage, Crowdstrike and Tibco had been a essential a part of our personal community that we delivered to this effort. Working with Pure Storage on the info aspect, for instance, has been an absolute efficiency benefit. It’s all about pace of knowledge and the proper means of accessing data for us, whether or not on the monitor or on the manufacturing unit.

Paying it ahead with a downloadable toolkit. Along with the large manufacturing effort, the initiative additionally made the design and manufacturing data obtainable to obtain without charge. To this point, almost 2,000 organizations from 105 international locations have accomplished so. The licensed bundle contains not solely the designs, but in addition specifies supplies, instruments, and the package used within the fast prototyping course of, in addition to the fabrication time for every half. The concept was that making the design and manufacturing specs brazenly obtainable would permit firms around the globe to provide these gadgets at pace and at scale to assist COVID-19 response.

Wanting again on the trouble, our racing mentality helped put together us for this problem, however we’ll stay perpetually humbled by the breadth and pace of how this collaboration got here collectively.

Ben Hodgkinson is Head of Mechanical Engineering at Mercedes-AMG Excessive Efficiency Powertrains. He has been with the corporate since 2001, serving in numerous engineering and growth positions. Previous to this, Ben earned a grasp’s diploma from College Faculty London in Mechanical Engineering.


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