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Nissan steps up COVID-19 battle

Nissan is expanding its battle plan to better combat the spread of the coronavirus

17 Apr 2020

NISSAN has announced it will be stepping up its efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in coming months with plans to produce plastic face shields at its research plant in Yokohama, upscale delivery of face shield parts in the UK and start production of respirators in Spain.


The announcements come as the global coronavirus death toll continues to rise, now approaching 146,000.


According to the brand, preparations are currently being made at its research centre in Yokohama to begin producing plastic face shields later this month, with production expected to peak at 2500 units per month.


Like various other car manufacturers, Nissan will be donating the finished masks to health workers and first responders on the front line of the coronavirus crisis with these particular masks to distributed within Japan.


In addition to the face masks, studies are also underway to identify ways in which the brand can support local ventilator and artificial heart-lung machine manufacturers following a request from the Japanese government.


“Nissan plans to help these producers by proposing improvements to manufacturing procedures, providing working space or manpower to help companies step up production, and supplying parts that are in shortage,” it said in a statement.


Similar initiatives are already in place in other regions including the US (Michigan, Mississippi and Tennessee) and the United Kingdom, the latter of which will see the production of hundreds of thousands of protective face shields.


The UK operations have been based entirely out of Nissan’s Sunderland plant, from which more than 77,000 shields will leave from at the end of this week for distribution before production kicks up to more than 100,000 units per week.


According to Nissan production director Adam Pennick, the project was inspired by four brothers, two of which are engineers (Anthony and Chris Grilli) based at the brand’s in Cranfield technical centre.


“Our people are experts in the logistics behind an effective supply chain, and we certainly weren't short of volunteers for this project,” he said.


Anthony Grilli said he and his brothers saw Nissan had the ability to support the national effort to produce more PPE for frontline health workers and that they “just had to help”.


“We quickly mobilised to produce parts using our 3D printing capability at home and we're grateful to everyone that donated through our crowd funding site to help us get this going,” he said.


While the components of the shields are not being produced directly by Nissan, the brand has reportedly supplied funding to various local firms to produce the three main components which were originally being 3D printed by the Grilli brothers and other volunteers.


The individual components are then shipped to the Sunderland plant “for packing and distribution in a ready-to-assemble format to an NHS procurement centre”.


“The visors are shipped in this format at the request of the NHS to minimise damage risk during transit, and to ensure the maximum volume can be dispatched at once,” Nissan said.


Meanwhile in Spain, production of the Q-Vent respirator has started at Nissan’s Barcelona powertrain plant in collaboration with QEV Technologies, Eurecat and Hospital de Sant Pau.


Already authorised by the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), the Q-Vent respirator has been designed in accordance with international specifications, meaning it can be supplied globally in the fight against COVID-19.


The project is expected to produce up to 180 units per day if needed with production said to be dependent on the number of orders placed by hospitals and health bodies.


QEV Technologies CEO Miguel Valldecabres thanked all parties involved in getting the project off the ground and for the ongoing support.


“Since the beginning of the epidemic, we assumed the challenge of developing a low-cost portable system that could reach all corners of the world, especially those emerging countries where the COVID-19 was going to cause a great damage and where the majority of the patients were not going to have access to respirators,” he said.


Project scientific coordinator Dr José M. Guerra added that it was vital to help emerging countries that have lower economic capacities.

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