‘Come up with an Apollo 13 fix’: Government challenges Supercar engineers to create ventilator

Australia Health

Updated April 01, 2020 19:15:10

Supercar engineers are taking their skills from the racetrack to the ICU ward by creating a ventilator prototype to help during the coronavirus crisis.

Key points:

  • The team that helps engineer Jamie Whincup’s Supercar was set the challenge by Queensland’s Manufacturing Minister to create a ventilator prototype
  • Triple Eight Race Engineering will partner with a manufacturing company to take the prototype further
  • The engineers hope industries would see the necessity of manufacturing in Australia

Triple Eight Race Engineering, based in Banyo on Brisbane’s northside, quickly assembled the ventilator using their skills from Supercars Championship racing.

Team principal Roland Dane said the prototype was the result of his engineering team working with medical professionals and local intensive care unit experts.

“We came back from the Australian Grand Prix that didn’t happen as we were there as part of the support cars,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

“We were aware of the imagery coming out of Europe and we wanted to challenge ourselves as an engineering company to see if there was something we should be doing here and began investigating it.”

Mr Dane said the group was approached by Queensland’s Minister for Manufacturing, Cameron Dick, to work around the clock to come up with a prototype.

“He challenged me to come up with an ‘Apollo 13 fix’, if you like, of what you could do in an emergency,” he said.

“We followed that up with a call to a leading ICU specialist in USA, Professor John Fraser, and put our heads down to put something together that could help if our backs are against the wall.

“Engineering is engineering, so when you’re involving a control system, an electrical motor, and circuit board it’s not dissimilar to the parts we use on a sophisticated Supercar.”

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With the possibility of needing ventilators decreasing in Australia with the recent announcement of private hospitals opening their doors, Mr Dane said the team was pushing forward with making ventilators that could be used in everyday situations.

“We’ve challenged ourselves again to develop it into something that is far more capable, that fits into the regulatory system in a normal situation in this country,” Mr Dane said.

“We only have one other company in the country which makes units like this, so we really do need to rediscover how to make things here in Australia.”

Showing Australia’s manufacturing talent

Mr Dane said the team would partner with a manufacturing company to expand further and hoped that industries would see the necessity of manufacturing in Australia.

“We would partner with someone for manufacturing as we’re only a team of 40 with 10 engineers in the team,” he said.

“On the other side of this crisis we need to look at ‘Australia Incorporated’ and go back to making things, as we can’t rely on importing things from around the world.”

Although it is still early days, Mr Dane said once the regulatory requirements were met the team were on standby to help however they could.

“I’m so proud of the innovation and agility of my team and what we can do when we put our minds to it,” he said.

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Topics: health, sport, motor-sports, engineering, infectious-diseases-other, covid-19, banyo-4014, brisbane-4000

First posted April 01, 2020 14:25:28

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