Moataz Mamdouh, sales manager, Fluid Control Pneumatics at Emerson outlines its role in helping one of its customers develop a ventilator to tackle COVID-19 in Egypt.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, Egyptian health authorities recognised the likely shortage of critical medical equipment, especially ventilators. Egypt has very little domestic device-manufacturing capacity, and, in early 2020, no-one was producing ventilators. A company named BioBusiness was interested in taking up the challenge, but they recognised precise pressure and flow control would be critical to success and turned to Emerson for expert assistance.
BioBusiness was founded in 2009, and is headquartered in Giza, southwest of Cairo. Today the company designs, develops, manufactures, and distributes a range of medical products, including haemodynamic monitoring equipment, temporary pacemakers, oxygen-therapy generators, and patient- and tele-monitoring systems. To help Egypt provide the respiratory care its citizens desperately needed to survive the virus, BioBusiness set out to develop the first ventilator with 100% Egyptian technology — one that could compete with European and American devices. In this endeavour, they had the support of the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology as well as the Supreme Council of University Hospitals, which served as the lead partner in clinical trials.
“Although many organisations in the Middle East and Africa have tried to produce this type of device,” noted Eng. Mostafa El-Wakeel, CEO of BioBusiness, “none had been able to complete the task and deliver a final product. We were determined that this effort would be successful.”
The objective was to develop a basic platform with internal components that could support all types of treatment, from non-invasive oxygen delivery to more invasive therapies that use an endotracheal tube or tracheostomy tube. Production and approvals would take place in phases, starting with high-flow oxygen devices, then noninvasive machines and finally invasive ventilators.
BioBusiness has substantial R&D and manufacturing talent, and they were able to design a system that used 70% local product content, including software as well as many internal components and cables. There is no indigenous source, however, for the all-important pressure- and flow-control valves and regulators. To meet this need, BioBusiness turned to Emerson for ASCO valves and AVENTICS regulators that are proven in similar applications. Emerson has considerable experience working with other ventilator manufacturers, and they were able to collaborate with BioBusiness to build a prototype, completing the project ahead of schedule. Emerson’s technical expertise and local customer-service organisation proved indispensable in the fast-track development project.
Emerson recommended compact, ultra-reliable ASCO Series 202 Preciflow solenoid valves to proportionally control the flow of gases by varying the electrical input signal to the coil. For pressure regulation, the AVENTICS CR1-OX diaphragm-type cartridge valves were selected. Both these components are specifically designed for medical equipment and analytical instrumentation and deliver highly precise control and repeatability, while enabling mounting flexibility.
Two years after starting the project, BioBusiness has built over 50 devices in the factories of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, the manufacturing partner for the project. Branded as BioVent A Series, the ventilators have been delivered to 13 hospitals in Egypt. A total of 500 units are slated to be produced by the end of 2022. Emerson and BioBusiness are also currently working on the design and prototype of what will become the E Series ventilator for use in intensive-care environments.
”Emerson is proud to be able to support BioBusiness in helping ramp up the manufacturing of life-saving health care devices,” said Khaled Saleh, area director for Egypt, Libya and Sudan at Emerson’s Automation Solutions business. “We will continue to offer our expertise in building such innovations to help the world fight this pandemic.”
For BioBusiness, El Wakeel sums it up this way: “The battle is far from over. As long as COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses threaten the region and the world, we will continue to innovate and create new solutions to meet the evolving challenges. Emerson’s advanced automation technologies arm us with the weapons necessary to combat the pandemic and help save lives.”