Even before the critical global demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the twin challenges of a worldwide aging population and associated lung disease had led to an increased need for ventilators. However, the Covid-19 crisis has heightened the urgent demand for ventilators to extraordinary levels, putting intense pressure on the production capabilities of medical equipment manufacturers.
The simple purpose of a ventilator is to pump a mixture of air and oxygen into the lungs of a person who is either unable to breathe or is breathing insufficiently. In addition, most intensive-care-unit (ICU) ventilators also include monitoring functions of resulting conditions within the lungs, utilizing various valves and sensors to perform these functions.
As the COVID-19 crisis has matured, healthcare professionals have learned and altered their strategy to decrease the frequency of early patient intubation (insertion of ventilation tube into the trachea) and increase the use of non-invasive ventilation (NIV). The utilization of these types of ventilators has also increased due to increased incidence of more chronic respiratory failure due to the present virus, among other causes.
For critically ill patients, access to a ventilator can still be a matter of life and death, and hospitals and other care facilities around the world have an urgent need for many thousands more of these machines.
Ventilator ‘categories’ are not always clear nor universal, but various types are now in higher demand, including home care ventilators (HCV) and other more portable devices. Within this broad category, manufacturers utilize different strategies to perform the function of ventilation, including high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) and various mask solutions. Despite the end-delivery method of the ventilator, each requires the use of specialized valving to mix and deliver the desired oxygen/air mix to the patient.
Given the need to minimize product time-to-market, both existing and new manufacturers are heavily dependent on their component suppliers. Now more than ever, they need trusted suppliers with extensive knowledge of the market and its regulations, technical expertise, and widely proven solutions. These can help to fast track the design and certification processes and support a rapid ramp up of production to help meet demanding delivery schedules and ultimately save lives.
Emerson has technical expertise and experience in providing rapid and reliable product development solutions for intensive care, home care, emergency and anaesthesia ventilators, and is prioritizing orders from medical device companies.
To operate efficiently, a ventilator requires very precise and reliable control of gases. Flow control solutions, such as high flow proportional valves, must be able to quickly change the oxygen percentage to precisely deliver the right gas mix according to patient needs. It is expected that flow solutions will provide a long period of operation without requiring maintenance. For ventilators used in a home care environment, components must be very compact, provide quiet operation, and not require large power consumption.
Products and Customized Solutions
Emerson’s extensive range of durable and proven flow control solutions enables manufacturers to source either standard proportional and general service valves or a complete customized gas control solution from a single supplier, shortening their development timeline and reducing costs. The range includes:
- Proportional valves – ASCO™ Series 202 and 203 Posiflow valves, and ASCO Series 202 Preciflow valves are used for controlling the flow of gases, while the ASCO Series 202 Preciflow inlet pressure compensated (IPC) valves is especially designed to operate in an optimal way in a ventilator gas mixer module.
- Miniature valves – ASCO Series 188, Series RB and Series 090 miniature solenoid valves are designed for use with air and gases (like oxygen). Their compact, lightweight form and low power consumption make them ideal for use in ventilators, and they have an exceptional service lifetime, significantly increasing instrument reliability.
- Regulators – the TESCOM™ PS-3400 Series is a compact, high-purity cylinder regulator with tied diaphragms for flows of gases. It is ideal for the application to reduce oxygen and gas cylinder pressures to those that can be used to mix ventilator and anesthesia gas.
- Customized solutions – Emerson partners with its customers to find solutions that fit their specific needs, including valves on a manifold, customized with accessories such as tubing, filters and connectors, as required. Creating plug-and-play control solutions reduces the number of suppliers required and makes the manufacturing process less complex.
Emerson not only provides an extensive range of proven, reliable and ISO-certified products, but also offers rapid engineered solutions, enabling samples – from standard valves to customized solutions – to be delivered in a matter of days. Emerson can also provide design assistance from a global team of engineering personnel with experience and expertise in designing solutions for ventilators. This enables manufacturers to partner with a trusted supplier that can be relied upon to meet their product specifications and advise them in regard to the stringent regulatory demands of the oxygen therapy sector.
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Paul Gant, Sr. Business Development Manager Analytical and Medical