Accu supports healthcare and medical engineering projects through a challenging year
05 February 2021
Martin Ackroyd, Co-Founder of precision component supplier, Accu, discusses the wide range of medical projects it has supported in 2020.
Supporting the medical industry through a time of need
In 2020, the medical industry faced one of its toughest challenges in modern history. It is no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the face of medical care, meaning that the role of engineering companies also shifted. With a heightened requirement to act quickly to develop and prototype new medical products – all whilst working to strict, critical deadlines – it became clear that agile engineering firms were needed more than ever before.
Like many other companies, Accu had to act fast when lockdown came into effect. To support medical customers procuring components for ventilators, PPE equipment and respiratory devices, we made immediate changes to our warehousing facilities to flag up medical device components for priority processing.
Helping medical engineering customers through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
For example, one company that has been at the frontline of the COVID-19 fight is BPR Medical. Since its formation in 1990, it has been one of the global leading specialists in designing and manufacturing medical gas control and respiratory support systems.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the firm’s teams worked tirelessly to adjust their inventory to meet the increased demand for medical products to provide respiratory support and oxygen regulation to critically ill patients.
Having worked with Accu for eight years, BPR relied on us through the early months of 2020 to create a level of supply chain certainty during multiple ventilator projects.
Challenged with increased demand and fast turnarounds, we responded to this increased demand by providing continuous one-to-one support to BPR Medical’s procurement and quality engineering teams to identify all critical components used in BPR’s medical products and prototyping projects.
Simultaneously, we also supported supply components to a range of engineering companies all working on projects related to the UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge. This included Team Consulting, who in the space of six weeks designed EVA - the Emergency Ventilator Apparatus.
Iain Ansell, Head of Surgical at Team Consulting, highlighted that “the ventilator needed to be appropriate for mass manufacture and built from components which could be readily acquired”.
Following the recent expansion of our warehousing facilities, additional component stocks were requisitioned in order to counterbalance potential supply chain delays and ensure rapid supply in the likelihood of increased, urgent demand from the medical industry.
Thanking us for our efforts in response to the project, Rachel Sanford, Project Administrator at Team Consulting, said: “Getting a medical device to market usually takes years. However, we managed to develop an emergency medical ventilator in response to the COVID-19 crisis in just weeks. This was a phenomenal effort and we have to give credit and, thanks to Accu, and all of our suppliers for supporting us on such short notice to complete this task.”
Supplying safety and security innovations
Sussex-based Insight Security has been using fasteners from Accu for a number of years in the production of its innovative, non-aggressive, Roller Barrier security product, used extensively in the UK by organisations including the NHS for hospitals and medical centres.
The Roller Barrier is an anti-climb system developed and manufactured by Insight Security with the aim of preventing people from climbing walls, gates or fences or onto flat roofs, without the risk of impaling themselves on dangerous spikes.
“We do a lot of work with hospitals – the Roller Barrier is especially favoured by psychiatric hospitals and care homes as it’s a non-threatening product, which looks as though it’s part of the structure, meaning it’s discreet and blends in [to the existing architecture],” commented Insight Security’s Managing Director, Ivor Blatchford.
“It was developed for use in areas where children, or vulnerable persons with temporarily or permanently impaired judgement, may need to be deterred from climbing. It is widely used throughout the UK and many other countries by schools, hospitals, psychiatric centres and correctional institutions, among other users.”
Insight Security recently received an urgent order for Roller Barriers from a US-based customer, with Blatchford advising that they “naturally turned to Accu, who regularly supply fixings used with Roller installations, for some specialist bolts which were needed quickly to fulfil the order”.
Following this, Accu has begun working with Insight Security on further requirements, including a bespoke enquiry into stainless steel security components for a new product development project.
Aiding medical projects closer to home
In September 2020, Accu helped the team at Touretteshero, a community interest company dedicated to increasing awareness and challenging the stigmas of Tourettes, by providing the components needed to make the necessary repairs and aesthetic improvements to a profiling bed used by Jess Thom, the eponymous Touretteshero and Co-Founder.
Jess Thom’s profiling bed is designed to help her feel more comfortable at night. However, with Thom’s tics over the past two years causing the foot of the bed to require repairing, she enlisted her friend and fellow Co-Founder, Matthew Pountney, to help with the project.
Pountney said, “Jess has issues with chronic pain and fatigue and uses a profiling bed to help her manage. The bed itself is great but has quite a medical feel so we have replaced the chipboard, headboard and footboard with see-through perspex. I have then used Accu’s fittings and some anodised washers to give it a fresh, contemporary look.”
Matthew Pountney complimented the layout and simplicity of using Accu’s online store, adding: “I was delighted to find that I could order the exact quantity of each component that I needed. Having this flexibility for small projects such as ours saves money and minimises waste.”
Thom emphasised that although projects such as this might seem small, their impact to an individual in improving their quality of life cannot be underestimated, highlighting: “It might be easy to lose sight of what those components can make possible, you know for projects like this, they’re being used to repair the bed which I use every day for medical reasons in order to help manage my pain”.
Feeling that many products related to health or disability can have a clinical feel and are often designed to try and blend in so as not to be noticed, Jess Thom wanted to make sure the repair project added a unique feel to her bed, with the additions of colour and customisability helping to promote a better mood and mental wellbeing whilst using it.
Speaking of the experience, she said: “The bed simply wouldn’t work the way it needs to without the components from Accu. [It was a] really positive experience and we will definitely be using Accu again for creative and theatre projects, as well as any medical repairs we may have in future!”
Pivoting personal healthcare solutions
In October 2019, Software Engineer Colin Montgomery began exploring options to overcome the fundamental challenges of exercising at home – balancing finding the time and space, along with having the necessary equipment to hand.
Fast forward to October 2020 – and one global pandemic later – and Montgomery’s initial idea for a solution is no longer just a concept, it’s a fully working prototype, with a small startup company called PIVOT Fitness formed to launch the UK manufactured product, without external investment, through a Kickstarter campaign.
The PIVOT™ bed is designed to be a space-saving fitness solution, flipping 90 degrees to convert from a bed into a complete home gym. All fitness equipment is stored under the bed when not in use and designed to be hidden when in its sleeping position.
Accu initially supported the R&D phase of the project, with Colin commenting that, “by March , I had finished the prototype, helped massively by Accu, and it worked so well that I was exercising almost every day now that I had a great space to work out.”
He added, "the quality of the components from Accu has always been impeccable”, following regular consultations with Accu’s Customer Success and Engineering teams regarding the build of the pre-production model.
With home gym equipment sales in the UK spiking during COVID-19 lockdowns, Elizabeth Elford, PIVOT’s Marketing Manager, believes that “the need for finding time and space to exercise and committing to it has only increased”.
With the launch of its PIVOT™ Bed, the company feels they can offer the ideal solution to a home workout space and “pretty much eliminate the need to enter communal spaces for a workout” – allowing people to exercise safely whilst isolating and following social distancing guidelines.
Learn more about Accu’s range of engineering components and services by visiting its website: https://www.accu.co.uk/.