SCHNEIDER joins development project and produces ventilators to save lives of corona patients
Within a few days’ time, the team of physicists and engineers have successfully taken the idea and brought it to fruition: The prototype was developed, the practical tests were conducted, and the supply chain is secured. The final version meets the expectations of the medical staff and could be produced in large numbers in no time.
The scaled-down ventilators are supposed to prevent a bottleneck in intensive care ventilation technology. They can be applied to those patients needing support in breathing both before they enter an acute state and afterwards, until they recover. The scarce number of professional ventilators can be deployed in the most acute and severe cases.
The only thing missing: An approval by the authorities.
Oberhessische Presse article on the project:
A machine that could save the lives of corona patients
Fronhausen-based company SCHNEIDER could produce thousands of ventilators
By Björn Wisker, Oberhessische Presse
Fronhausen, Germany. The idea is there, the parts are there, a prototype is there. Even a practical test has been conducted at the university hospital at the Lahnberge (Marburg, Germany) on a lifelike test dummy: the alternative ventilator that was developed a few days ago by a team of physicists from the Philipps-University of Marburg is a success. And because the entrepreneur Gunter Schneider immediately picked up on this invention, he and his Fronhausen-based company SCHNEIDER are in the starting blocks waiting to produce these makeshift ventilators in series – hundreds, thousands, as many as necessary. In Germany, Europe and all over the world. “The virus leaves us all in the same boat, the danger affects all people in all countries. With this device, we can prevent people from dying, we can help,” Schneider says. What is still missing: an approval for the devices, to use the experimental apparatus for medical purposes – an approval that is dependent on the decision of the government. "This is the only hurdle that remains and that we have to take effectively," says the businessman.
After all, medical devices usually can only be sold in the market and used if they are given the CE approval that demands that products meet basic requirements, a so-called conformity assessment procedure is carried out. A special approval, although just temporary, is legally possible if the situation asks for a quick reaction. The problem: The producer has to prove that there are no alternative products or processes available that are equivalent from a medical standpoint. This could be difficult given the existing ventilators that are in principle available on the market.
Schneider plans to build 100 devices in his production plant in Fronhausen, regardless of these tests and evaluations that are common for official approval. He has the approximately 150 individual parts required for each ventilator and he would get the necessary raw materials and parts for mass production from partner companies worldwide in no time at all. The goods and supply chains, currently interrupted, have already been secured. "We are ready to start in no time."
Why not proceed by way of normal action? Schneider, the 500 employees in Fronhausen, the team of inventors led by physics professor Martin Koch are ready now. “A lot of measures have been delayed for too long like procuring protective clothing. It is time to act. We can make a contribution with the device. It is not just wishful thinking, the device can and will help save lives,” says Koch. Both the scientist and Schneider, however, secretly hope that the authorities - from Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn to the Chancellery - consider the Corona emergency to be too great to adhere to rigid admission rules.
The reasoning of both the developers and Professor Harald Renz, the medical director of the Gießen-Marburg University Hospital: The ventilation machine made in Marburg may immediately act as a "last line of defense" in German hospitals. It can be viewed, classified and deployed as a last resort for fighting the virus on patients. It means, in effect, that before an infected person is practically “condemned to die” by doctors and nurses, as has been the case in Italy and Spain, the device should be used.
In India, African countries, even in the US health care system: According to Renz, the machine, that the SCHNEIDER engineers keep refining e.g. in terms of performance, can even be used with acute patients.
Because, as engineer Helwig Buchenauer explains, the invention may provide fewer values and data and cannot keep up with the high-tech version in terms of performance but it ventilates the patient’s lungs and is also many times cheaper and easier to produce. Converting production all of sudden [to feature a new product] was easy for the Fronhausen-based company because it was “always a highly diverse in nature” with regards to systems, machines and materials and was not designed to produce just one product range, explains Buchenauer.
Schneider, a successful businessman for decades and known to many in Central Hesse primarily as the “Lokschuppen” investor, has never seen so many entrepreneurs jump at the chance and further an idea immediately without any questions asked. They are providing support voluntarily without talking about costs and prices, without any profit motivations. That is exactly what is happening. "Everyone is seeking to help, nobody is in it for the profit."
The basic idea: the number of intensive care beds and ventilators available is limited. Depending on the course of the pandemic there will be more patients than accessible technology. The approach of Koch and his team: It should be possible to take patients off the limited numbers of [professional] ventilators quicker to make hospital technology accessible for new acute cases. The solution: A scaled-down version of the high-tech, that works the same but is limited in performance. A version that supports life after the acute phase until they are recovered. "It's like with cars: a [Mercedes Benz] S-class drives faster than a VW Beetle, but if they both only have to drive at 120 km/h [75 mph], they are practically equivalent," says Koch. This means that a Corona patient could be connected to one of the Marburg machines the moment he or she requires less than the maximum performance provided by the hospital ventilation. Instantly the high-tech would be available for the next patient. "If even one life can be saved with this ventilation technology, every effort has paid off," say Schneider and Koch.