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AE Aerospace transforms production lines to support VentilatorChallengeUK
Staff at a UK aerospace manufacturer have been working double shifts, around the clock, learning new complex machining methods and rapidly transforming production lines to support the national effort against Coronavirus.
Employees at Birmingham-based AE Aerospace have been manufacturing complex parts to contribute to the production of thousands of Pneupac® ParaPAC® ventilators, used by respiratory therapists, paramedics, and trained emergency personnel. The company had to get to grips with new materials and novel production methods in what was a huge change from its usual high-precision metalwork fabrication.
The team effort involved in completing six weeks’ worth of production in just a fortnight. This is compared to AE Aerospace’s normal lead times, which would typically take 12 weeks work, from sight of drawing to finishing production.
Peter Bruch, managing director of AE Aerospace, said: “From the moment we received the drawings, the AE team rallied together to overhaul our production line, rapidly learn new manufacturing techniques and share ideas on how we could accelerate the creation of these essential components. The entire team was involved throughout the project, as we got to grips with mill-turning complex parts made from nylon – a material that we don’t often work with.”
AE Aerospace was one of the first manufacturing businesses to start delivering finished components as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, which saw companies including Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Ford working together to scale up production of proven ventilator components and models already made by UK firms Smiths and Penlon.
An intense production period saw AE Aerospace start producing components on April 4, 2020 and completing them on Good Friday, ready for these parts to be assembled into the finished ventilators being rolled out to the NHS.
Bruch added, “Few countries have quite the community spirit and collaboration that exists within UK manufacturing. Not only did VentilatorChallengeUK bring numerous manufacturing organisations together with a shared goal, it also brought our entire team together in a fantastic way.
“We had everyone working together to reshape production lines, learn new volume production techniques and complete one of the quickest and most important projects in the company’s 24-year history. We’re just delighted we could contribute to this magnificent national effort.”