Automations for Medical Manufacturing During the Pandemic

by | Sep 3, 2020 | Automation

While the first wave of the COVID pandemic swept across the United States in April and May 2020, the nation faced a shortage of life-saving ventilators.  Once the World Health Organization designated COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the New England Journal of Medicine published their perspective finding that the ventilator shortage in the US could be in the hundreds of thousands, while global demand also experienced an extreme spike.  The picture that NEJM painted was dire – “The national strategic reserve of ventilators is small and far from sufficient for the projected gap.  No matter which estimate we use, there are not enough ventilators for patients with Covid-19 in the upcoming months.”  Increasing the supply, stockpiling, and allocating ventilators became mission-critical to US domestic policy via the Center for Disease Control.

As the manufacturers of ventilators sought effective ways to quickly ramp up production, one such midwestern company turned to Ashling Partners and UiPath for help.  They had just repurposed a production facility in another midwestern state to make ventilators for the first time and needed a way to quickly and efficiently grow their output.  Within days a joint team was formed with donated RPA software and Bots from UiPath and volunteered advisory and build services from Ashling Partners. 

The team quickly set out to automate the work order entry, serial number generation, as well as label creation and printing processes related to manufacturing ventilators at the newly repurposed assembly plant.  The urgency of the situation dictated a breakneck pace for the project, which included 24×7 testing and ultimately production support.

The Result

The impact of these automations was felt immediately as the throughput of the new plant increased by 500+ ventilator builds per day.  Quality and compliance were also positively impacted with a transactional success rate well above 95%.

After a month of stabilization, the results of the automations continue to be staggering.  Now every month nearly as many ventilators are shipped out as were produced for the entirety of last year.  These extra ventilators have certainly made an impact in the US where the pandemic has not subsided, but they’ve also been shipped across the globe to assist with health efforts in other countries.  Destinations have included Bolivia, Germany, India, Pakistan, as well as Caribbean islands.   

The team from Ashling Partners involved in the project was extremely honored to be able to contribute toward making a positive impact on our society.  This project was a powerful example of a partnership between a group with strong manufacturing capabilities (client), specialists in software (UiPath), and experts in the Intelligent Automation space (Ashling).  It was also a great case study to demonstrate the speed-to-value of deploying automations, and specifically RPA, to solve both business and societal problems.

We at Ashling Partners look forward to continuing on our journey to solve complex problems and do right by our clients, partners, and society.

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