Skoda Auto Volkswagen India (SAVWIPL) has manufactured reusable face shields to offer a primary level of protection to healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients. Acute shortage of this kit has prompted the company to sought special permission from the authorities to allow workers into their factory in Pune to manufacture these, which it got on Monday. The company has started production with available materials and the shields are being supplied to the Covid-19 dedicated hospital in Pune. It has already supplied 380 of them and will now make 250 units a day, with plans to further ramp up production.
SAVWIPL is carrying out productions in the pilot hall, where, under normal circumstances, it makes vehicle prototypes. Face shields protect people from body fluids and can be worn in conjunction with masks. At present supplies do not match demand and several Indian companies are trying to make these products in India to bridge the gap. But getting regulatory approvals and adequate supply remain a problem. The demand for this product has come from the state government’s Sassoon General Hospital. The dedicated Covid-19 hospital is part of the Sassoon Hospital.
The company spokesperson said they came up with three designs and one was shortlisted. SAVWIPL has designed the face shields to prevent fogging while being light weight to help health workers move and communicate freely while on duty. Its face shied has got approval from Dr Ajay Chandanwale, dean of the Maharashtra state government-run Sassoon General Hospital. The face masks produced by SAVWIPL have been certified by team of doctors for use in ICU while doing procedures and for outdoors. The transparent sheet that forms the shield can be sanitised after six-eight hours before reuse.
A lot of work is also being done at SAVWIPL’s parent company ŠKODA AUTO in collaboration with the Czech Technical University, Prague. They have produced reusable FFP3 respirators for hospitals using 3D printers. The produced masks are delivered to the Czech Ministry of Health and then distributed among hospitals and doctors. At present, around 60 respirators are manufactured at ŠKODA AUTO each day. Other Czech universities and private companies with similar printers have joined in, leading to a total daily output of several hundred masks.
The Indian subsidiary also has 3D printers and is exploring ways to make other kits to fight the pandemic. Presently, the FFP3 respirators cannot be made here, but the company is exploring ways to make some parts here. But these designs will be readily available. Apart from using its manufacturing facility and expertise, the company said it would import essential medical supplies to India through Volkswagen AG. The company is also looking at utilising its global supply chain capabilities to organise essential medical supplies that India needs to fight the pandemic.
The Volkswagen Group is arranging medical materials, including face masks, gloves, disinfectants, clinical thermometers, protective goggles and protective clothing, to be made available to medical personnel. The company has also donated Rs 1 crore to the Sassoon Hospital in Pune. ŠAVWIPL will donate over 35,000 sanitisers to Sassoon Hospital, Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, Mumbai and Government Hospital, Aurangabad. It has through the Annamitra Foundation distributed 50,000 food packets to the needy in and around Aurangabad till the lockdown is lifted.
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