Engineering firm working around the clock to make NHS ventilator parts
By Andrew Merrell | 3rd April 2020
A Gloucester engineering business is among the team of fleet-of-foot UK firms which have adapted overnight to meet the urgent demand for ventilators to help COVID-19 patients.
Stratos Precision Engineering, based on Waterwells Business Park, Quedgeley, is one of the firms in overdrive racing to make good the emergency NHS order for parts for the life-saving machines.
Hospitals nationwide are already dealing with rising numbers of patients struggling to breath and are bracing themselves for a spike in numbers which has caused the dramatic rise in the need for more ventilators.
It is a deadline all too apparent to managing director Jonathan Caple at Stratos Precision Engineering.
"We have become part of the ventilator challenge. We have five components to manufacture totalling 30,000. We have never built these parts before. It is quite an ask," said Mr Caple.
"We only had the order on Wednesday and have been driving up and down the country getting tooling and materials. We have been on the phone to other customers asking if we can prioritise this order and everyone has been really helpful.
"Staff have adapted to a new shift pattern, with engineers coming in at 6am and working till 12 midnight. I was in until 3am today (April 3).
"The supply chain must be huge - but I am sending emails at 11pm, 12am and 1am and getting replies straight away - so we are not the only ones working around the clock."
The firm's team of experienced engineers operate a full workshop of CNC milling, routing, turning and sliding head machines and specialise in adapting fast for clients and meeting tight deadlines - but this effort has required everyone to go over and above.
Equipment like its Citizen L32 sliding head CNC lathe is capable of working independently through the night and has been utilised for this particular project.
"We have 8,000 parts made already of the 30,000. There is a deadline of half for Monday (April 6) - 15,000 parts, and we will hit that.
"Staff have agreed to work through the weekend. The balance of the order will be delivered later in the week," said Mr Caple, who set up the ISO9001:2015 accredited business with engineer Mark Vines in 2012.
"This is one of those orders we would like to shout about, and would like to win more business from, but really it is about the bigger picture and that is what we are focused on. The real heroes are the people out there on the front line who will put everything we make to good use."
To find out more about the company visit Stratos Precision Engineering or telephone 01452 840422.
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