Family firm tell of race to produce ventilator parts

Health secretary Matt Hancock said more than 250 ventilators had been produced by the end of April by the Ventilator Challenge.  Picture: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA WireHealth secretary Matt Hancock said more than 250 ventilators had been produced by the end of April by the Ventilator Challenge.  Picture: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire
Health secretary Matt Hancock said more than 250 ventilators had been produced by the end of April by the Ventilator Challenge. Picture: Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA Wire | pa
A KEIGHLEY family-run engineering firm has told how it transformed its production capabilities to produce parts for the national ventilator challenge.

Yorkshire Precision Engineering, which was founded in 2001 by Michael and Lynda Laybourne, was approached to work for the Government’s ventilator manufacturing coalition in March by Rolls Royce.

Within a week of getting the go-ahead in early April, it had produced 8,000 brass components.

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Sales and financial director Mrs Laybourne said: “It was a complex part and production was stressful. We had split shifts working to master the part and then produce so many.”

The company was later asked to produce a second part, made from plastic, for which its suppliers “pulled out all the stops” to ensure they had what they needed, Mrs Laybourne said.

A small team worked over Easter to ensure the parts were ready, and then the whole staff of 21 was involved in packing the parts.

The firm has since had to ramp up production on parts for oxygen supply fittings, which they already produced, but orders for which have been brought forward due to demand.

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“We felt very privileged to work as part of the ventilation challenge and are proud of what we achieved,” Mrs Laybourne added.

By the end of April, the ventilator challenge had produced more than 250 new mechanical ventilators, the Department of Health said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the “ingenuity and innovation” shown by companies involved had been “truly awe-inspiring”.