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How North Sea firms' expertise can help fight war on coronavirus


The underwater engineering sector is exploring ways it can transfer its specialist knowledge to help to support the UK’s effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Industry body Subsea UK said that underwater engineering companies have the relevant products and manufacturing expertise particularly in breathing apparatus and life support equipment, valves, and control systems.

One of Subsea UK’s members, JFD Global, has already stepped up to develop and bring to market a revolutionary respiratory ventilator.

JFD Global managing director Giovanni Corbetta said the company was using all its experience in breathing apparatus and life support equipment to come up with the best possible solution for patients, doctors and healthcare systems.

He said: “What we have developed is a highly flexible, modular ventilator that is safe, efficient and can be manufactured and deployed rapidly across the globe.

“Our aim is to take some of the intense pressure off ICU treatment facilities in the coming critical weeks and help save lives, as the virus approaches its peak in many countries.”

Other companies are exploring how standard diving equipment could be adapted to meet current medical needs and providing drive systems for medical equipment.

Viewport3, an Aberdeen-based specialist in 3D scanning for the subsea industry is using its 3D print design experience to create a template for adaptors to connect equipment from the diving or C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) industries to be used as a moderate form of ventilation or respiration.

Viewport3 director Richard Drennan said: “We routinely deploy 3D printers offshore, allowing us to resolve challenges on location without having to ship equipment. We have now turned our focus to creating a suitable design and post-print workflow which could be easily replicated by others.

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“Each adaptor would require around four hours print time and 30 minutes of post-print assembly, meaning what we can produce using our own equipment is minimal. However, fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printers are what 99 per cent of small companies or hobbyists will have at hand, so a clear ready-to-use design and post-print instructions could mean the capability exists to print hundreds of adaptors up and down the UK, serving local care providers.”

Subsea UK, which represents the UK’s £7.8 billion subsea industry, is currently gathering intelligence on how other firms could help in the fight against COVID19 but also on the impact of the pandemic and the collapse in oil price on its 300 member companies.

Subsea UK chief executive Neil Gordon said: “At a time of such great uncertainty across the globe, both medically and economically, it is heartening to hear how subsea companies are rapidly responding to the critical healthcare call to action.

“We’ve also been working closely with organisations, such as OGUK and the OGA, to inform Government of the specific economic challenges facing the sector and to seek clarity for subsea businesses on the measures in place to support them and on the guidance for them in continuing with critical operations.”



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