https://www.cnbctv18.com/healthcare/fig ... 588641.htmFight against coronavirus: Skanray-BEL; AgVa-Maruti receive orders to provide 40,000 ventilators
The availability of ventilators is critical as the number of coronavirus cases rise in India. To prepare for an unforeseen eventuality, the government has placed orders to procure 40,000 ventilators from two domestic manufacturers.
The order has been placed with Bharat Electronic and Mysuru-based Skanray Technologies to manufacture 30,000 ventilators, while a second order for 10,000 ventilators has been given to a consortium of Maruti Suzuki and Noida-based ventilator maker AgVa Healthcare.
Domestic manufacturers, who were mostly assembling ventilators, recently indicated their inability to source critical parts from supplier markets due to restrictions on imports. The only possible solution was to use indigenous designs and components for basic ventilators and an auto major along with a auto components manufacturer have collaborated to developed basic ventilators.
The government’s purchase order has brought smaller ventilator makers in the spotlight.
Noida-based AgVa Healthcare is one such home-grown company that has tied up with Maruti Suzuki to scale up production to 10,000 ventilators per month.
R C Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki told CNBC TV18, “To quickly get on with manufacturing, we took up the existing design and technology developed by AgVa, which was one of the companies sent to us by the government.”
Maruti has taken up premises from one of its large vendors in Noida to use it for manufacturing ventilators.
“Three of our vendors who will help with manufacturing components have already got drawings and are building prototypes, which will be ready by Wednesday [April 1],” Bhargava added.
AgVa will work on two distributed manufacturing lines to manufacture ventilators, one is housed in its facility, while the second at Maruti's plant. The company hopes to get the government order ready within a month.
AgVa, started two years ago by Professor Diwakar Vaish and Dr Deepak Agarwal, has developed a low cost, portable ventilator. The company sources nearly 40 percent of the ventilator components that it manufactured at its Noida facility, from Shenzhen in China, Germany and South Korea. The company is looking at alternate suppliers in India. A basic ventilator with majority parts sourced locally is priced at Rs 1.5 lakh and can go up to Rs 2 to Rs 2.5 lakh.
However, as local component manufacturers are unable to scale up production, auto major Maruti Suzuki stepped in with their expertise in assembly, manpower and parts manufacturing. Bhargava said, “Most difficult part is on imported components, that has to be sourced from China and I understand one consignment of imported components will be in by Thursday.” Another critical challenge is of working capital for smaller manufacturers, hence Maruti is assisting AgVa to get short term loans and other lines of credit.
Agva started manufacturing and selling its ventilators in 2018 and so far has installed around 600 ventilators, with over half sold and the rest donated. Their clients include hospitals such as AIIMS and smaller set-ups in cities like Jaipur. The ventilators which are donated are mainly for home care, for patients who require support upon discharge from critical care.
Meanwhile, Mysuru-based ventilator manufacturer Skanray Technologies has ramped up capacity and plans to manufacture 1 lakh ventilators over the next three months. Earlier, the company would manufacture 200 ventilators per month.
Founder and MD Vishwaprasad Alva has said that the company plans to utilise a network of component suppliers and local manufacturers to ramp up production. “The idea is to simplify the design, to make it adequate for COVID-19 patients. We will share the design and certain critical components with other companies who can locally manufacture these ventilators quickly. We are opening up our design IP,” he stressed.
The company has tied up with Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL), a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Defence, for support on ramping up production. Alva told CNBC-TV18, “We have limited production capacity in our existing plants, only up to 5,000. So we will be manufacturing Government of India orders in BEL’s manufacturing facility in Bengaluru.”
Skanray has been working with Niti Aayog, DRDO and the Karnataka government on design and supply of locally-sourced components. It is also looking at sourcing similar components from the aeronautical and auto industry. The company has two units that are capable of manufacturing ventilators - one in Mysore and another in Italy. The company has already received orders of 5,000 ventilators from Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra state governments.
Skanray has received financial and technical commitment from Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, philanthropist Sudha Murthy and Dr Devi Shetty of NH Hospitals.
Industry estimates say that India currently requires approximately 50,000 ventilators. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on March 30 that over 14,000 ventilators have been earmarked for COVID-19 patients. Estimates suggest that when COVID-19 cases peak in India, the requirement for ventilators could go up to nearly 1 lakh. Other auto majors like Mahindra and Mahindra and Tata have also indicated their efforts in developing respirators and entry level ventilators.
Chandrajit Banerjee, DG of CII said, “A consortium of various auto and auto component manufacturers has been tasked to look at mass production of low frequency pulmonary, non-invasive ventilators. Here DRDO will be the guiding agency that will sharing designs and companies will look at developing from available technology.”
Naresh Trehan of Medanta Hospitals and head of CII healthcare committee said, “We need safety standards in place and new ventilators must be tested before putting it to clinical use. Even if prototypes are ready, we need at least 40-72 hours of non-stopping working of the prototype to test.”
Servicing these large number of ventilators is yet another challenge and Trehan suggests the government looks at regionalising the servicing aspects.