About ten days ago, Anand Mahindra, the chairman of the Mahindra Group, announced plans to use the company’s manufacturing facilities to make ventilators to fight the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, the Mahindra Group’s engineering and design teams worked on manufacturing ventilators and building prototypes. India, like many other countries across the world, faces a shortage of life-saving medical devices such as ventilators, which, according to US prez Trump are ‘very expensive.’ (The implication is that the cost of a single ventilator is something like US$ 100,000 or Rs 75 lakhs).
The company has already indigenously developed a prototype of a bag valve mask, which is commonly known as an Ambu bag and could cost less than Rs 7,500 (US$ 100) according to a company statement. While sharing the update on 26 March 2020, Pawan Goenka, managing director of Mahindra and Mahindra, tweeted, “The company along with two large public sector entities is working with an existing manufacturer of ‘high spec ventilators’ to help them to simplify design and scale-up capacity. On the other hand, we are working on an automated version of the Bag Valve Mask ventilator (also known as Ambu bag). We hope to have a Proto ready in 3 days for approval. Once proven, this design will be made available to all for manufacturing.”
Goenka also acknowledged the support from individuals and other companies towards Mahindra Group’s efforts to make ventilators and said that a prototype is likely ready in 3 days for approval.
Mahindra applauded the team of engineers from his company involved in making the prototypes. He tweeted, “So, so proud of our Kandivali and Igatpuri teams who confined themselves to the factories and without sleep produced this in 48 hours. With humility, we will seek guidance from specialists on the usefulness of the device. Whatever the outcome, they have shown India fights back.”
Mahindra said in another tweet that the Ambu-bag developed in-house is a game-changer in quickly providing large numbers of low-cost lifesavers, particularly when ICU ventilators are still scarce. “We are simultaneously working with an indigenous maker of ICU ventilators. These are sophisticated machines costing between 5 to 10 lakhs. This device is an interim lifesaver, and the team estimates it will cost below Rs 7,500.”