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Walkinshaw, Premcar begin PCAP manufacture

Breathing room: The manufacture of CPAP machines will help the local effort to fight COVID-19.

Australian automotive performance specialists team up to manufacture CPAP equipment

5 Jun 2020

ONCE direct rivals, Australian automotive engineering and manufacturing specialists Walkinshaw Automotive Group (WAG) and Premcar have teamed up to manufacture valuable Constant Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines to help in the fight against COVID-19. 


The two companies first announced in March that they would be teaming up to lend a hand in the production of medical equipment, however WAG was still in consultation with the government on what exactly it would be producing.


However with the extensive engineering and manufacturing capabilities of the two Melbourne-based businesses, the partnership has resulted in the production of CPAP devices, crucial in the treatment of COVID-19.


CPAP machines help deliver constant and steady air pressure to a patient, which ensures their airway does not collapse and greatly improves their chance of fighting the virus which compromises the respiratory system of victims.


The UCL-Ventura CPAPA machine is being manufactured locally under licence from University College London and Mercedes-AMG, who created the design for the product. 


One unique feature of the machine is the addition of a filtered exhaust to the mask, which eliminates the risk of further spreading the disease when used in conjunction with a face mask.


WAG and Premcar say that they have the capacity to manufacture, test and distribute up to 1000 CPAP units per month, for use both now and in the future.


The CPAP machines differ from the ‘ventilators’ commonly sought after during COVID-19, in that they provide medical assistance at an earlier stage, and have been used extensively in China and Italy to combat the virus while allowing patients to remain conscious and communicative.


Along with the CPAP machines, the two companies will also create up to 10,000 face shields per week, using a design certified by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), with the brands now approved as official TGA suppliers.


The shields can be manufactured by re-purposing some of the existing production tools used by the two businesses.


WAG director Ryan Walkinshaw said the collaboration process has been a great experience for the company.


“It’s been fantastic to work alongside Premcar,” he said. “Three months ago, you’d never consider working with your biggest rival on a project, but one of the real positives that has come out of this tragedy is the unity between everyone, both locally and globally, to help in any way they can.


“As automotive companies, turning our joint design, engineering, and production capabilities to assist the pandemic has been an extremely rewarding programme, and one that didn’t require too much thought. The engineers and production staff from both organisations have done an incredible job.”


Premcar engineering director Bernie Quinn said the whole exercise was a testament to the Australian manufacturing industry.


“I believe that it is testament to the quality of our culture and leadership in Australia that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a uniting effect on our community,” he said.


“We have seen Federal and State governments work wonderfully together, businesses and employees, and of course many families have become closer as well.


“I am very glad that Premcar and Walkinshaw Automotive Group have come together to work on the CPAP device. 


“To be honest it’s not only been a tremendous outcome from a technical point of view, but the co-operation was an absolute pleasure to be part of. The teams gelled immediately, and the progress was swift.”

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