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Thurso company's expertise contributes to supply of NHS ventilators


By David G Scott

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A THURSO-based company is supplying the NHS with specialist batteries as an urgent requirement in the battle against Covid-19.

The engineering team at Denchi Group was asked to supply the bespoke batteries for a consignment of NHS ventilator systems.

Recently, the Bank of China made a donation of 20 ventilators for deployment in UK intensive care units (ICUs) but safety restrictions relating to the air shipment of Li-ion batteries prevented them from being imported with their power sources included.

Denchi batteries were modified for the ventilator units.
Denchi batteries were modified for the ventilator units.

Denchi was then approached to quickly provide replacement batteries for the newly procured ventilators.

The company managed to supply the order by making major modifications to one of its existing products.

Derek Campbell, chief financial officer of Denchi Group, said: “Given that the Covid-19 pandemic is having such a crippling effect on our healthcare system, this ventilator battery project was something we really wanted to be involved in.

"Our engineers put a huge amount of effort into it, analysing the equipment and coming up with a fully effective and operationally optimised solution.”

This assignment set the engineering department at Denchi’s Thurso facility several sizeable technical challenges.

Denchi House in Thurso.
Denchi House in Thurso.

Firstly, there was no electrical specification data or drawings of the original battery available from the Chinese manufacturer, which meant that the replacement solution had to basically be reverse engineered via access to one of the ventilators, which could then be studied in detail.

Also, the original batteries did not comply with an industry standard form factor, thereby presenting certain difficulties – in terms of mechanically fitting all the cells and the accompanying controller electronics board within the required slot dimensions.

Despite these challenges, Denchi was able to carry out all the necessary design, prototyping and testing activities within a very short time frame.

It needed a turnaround period of just seven days to complete everything.

The company is now in the process of delivering the 14.5V-rated, 5.8Ah capacity batteries to the NHS, so that the donated ventilator equipment can be installed in ICUs and start helping patients straight away.

Mr Campbell said: “As a small token of thanks to the efforts of the NHS we have decided to supply our time and the batteries at no cost.

"We already have further projects in the pipeline that focus on the medical sector. These will, once again, put Denchi’s know-how in power system design to good use.”


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