Appliance manufacturer Defy has been internationally recognised for its role in a project to provide innovative life-saving ventilators.
The ventilators are designed and manufactured by South African engineers.
The University of Cambridge Open Ventilator System Initiative team, supported by European consumer durables company Arçelik, with its subsidiaries Beko in the UK and Defy in South Africa, received the Royal Academy of Engineering’s President's Special Award for Pandemic Service, as a result of their efforts in manufacturing mechanical ventilators for developing countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Defy Appliances CEO Evren Albaş says the initiative brings together extensive research, design, manufacturing and testing capabilities to mass produce a cost-effective, full-function mechanical ventilator named Impilo at Defy’s Jacobs factory, in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Impilo” means life in Zulu and Xhosa, which Defy deemed a fitting name for a device that so many people depend on right now for their survival.
Impilo is a full-function ventilator and can therefore be used whether a patient is sedated in an invasive mode, or requires assisted ventilation triggered by their own breathing while awake in non-invasive settings, and also with patient-triggered conditions.
Albaş explains that the mechanical ventilator units were developed through Defy’s cooperation with the University of Cambridge, local partners, Beko in the UK and Arçelik in Turkey.
“Its success depended – in no small part – on the innovative design and engineering capabilities that we have at our disposal in South Africa, both within our own company, as well as South African producer of landward defence solutions, Denel Land Systems, with whom we were able to collaborate.”
Albaş further states that the manufacturing of these ventilators in Defy’s facility in South Africa is also being supported by 17 local suppliers, with each being responsible for various device components.
“Defy has a 115-year history and heritage in South Africa. As part of our role in the community, it’s important to support our country when it needs it most. Our biggest goal here is to produce life-saving equipment that can be used to help treat as many Covid-19 patients as possible.
“At the same time, we are also constantly looking for ways to create more jobs and provide further relief with this initiative,” Albas concludes.