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Amtek joins COVID-19 manufacturing effort
Refitting specialist Amtek partners with other Aussie companies to build hospital beds
4 May 2020
VEHICLE refitting specialist Amtek has partnered with three other Australian companies to produce special emergency hospital beds as part of the local manufacturing industry’s rapid response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) organised and facilitated the partnership, which is spearheaded by international medical technology firm Stryker South Pacific.
The other companies involved are mattress supplier AH Beard, Fallshaw Wheels and Castors (which provides the bed wheels) and engineering specialist Varley Group.
Based off an American design and registered for use with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the modified emergency relief beds are manufactured from available components, shipped and stored in flat-pack containers and able to be easily assembled on-site with hand tools.
They are designed to accommodate patients in respiratory distress and provide critical ‘surge capacity’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those that are not put into service in Australia will go into the national stockpile of specialist equipment and could be used to assist neighbouring countries.
Well known for its work in modifying vehicles for use by emergency services and specialist operators – including ambulance, police, fire rescue, traffic management, mining and tourism – Amtek has been called on to design and manufacture the bedframe, with an initial order of 500 beds to be filled.
Amtek director Alan Moses told GoAuto that once receiving the call for help from Stryker early in April, the company’s designers worked around the clock to make the bed frames a reality.
“I was contacted at 7 o’clock on Sunday morning at the start of COVID-19, after a conversation and within just over an hour I had a couple of design guys at work 24 hours through the day on Sunday, Sunday night – literally 24 hours,” he said.
“And on Monday morning we started cutting tube, we had all the components delivered and powder-coated that afternoon, we had the bed assembled on Tuesday morning finished.
“Within just over 48 hours from the phone call we’d gone through the full design, build and assembly.”
Amtek was approached by Stryker to work on the project, as the two had a previous business relationship with Amtek already building componentry and training aids for Stryker while using the multinational brand’s equipment.
Mr Moses said the company had already been in contact with its suppliers, and is ready to significantly ramp up its initial order of 500, if needed.
“We’re building up to 500 per week, we’ve already co-ordinated with other supply lines for laser-cut parts, materials to produce 1000 per week, and it (depends on) whether we have the orders for those.”
Amtek modified the original American design to make it more compact and easier to store in containers, reducing the bed’s overall length to 170mm as the American design was made to accommodate people up to 203cm tall.
Mr Moses said the new order had taken precedence over some other programs already in progress, however the company has come up with a new way to make sure its production efforts keep running smoothly.
Amtek has hired nine new workers from the broader community to work on the bedframes, providing an employment opportunity for those out of work due to COVID-19.
Despite the devastating impacts of the virus, Mr Moses said that Amtek’s business has increased by around 40 per cent in recent times, suggesting the company is under no current financial stress.
AMGC managing director Jens Goennemann said the initiative showed the flexibility of the local manufacturing industry.
“The ability of Australia’s manufacturing sector to respond in times of crisis demonstrates just how strong and adaptable our manufacturing industry is,” he said.
“Via the Stryker project, AMGC has linked a 130-year-old fabrication business to a 120-year-old Australian mattress manufacturer and a 100-year-old Australian caster company, all of whom are working side-by-side to deliver an advanced manufacturing solution to address the current COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s innovation and collaboration at its finest.”
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