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Companies transforming production to tackle ventilator shortage in hospitals

Some firms not fabricating their usual products are doing their part in facing the coronavirus crisis


07 April 2020 07:32 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Amid the coronavirus crisis and the possible collapse of the health system, many companies around the country are transforming their operations to help with the cause. 

Many firms are already unable to operate as normal with the state of alarm in place, but many that have the capacity to have changed to making ventilators for hospitals instead of what they normally fabricate. 

Catalan carmakers Seat are one such company. Their factory in Martorell, located just outside Barcelona, produced ventilators for several days where they normally make their iconic Seat León cars. On April 10, they stopped such production after a week because the pressure on ICUs in Catalonia is progressively being relieved. The OxyGEN devices are designed by the company Protofy, which is directed by doctors from some of the most significant hospitals in the country. 

Over the weekend, the country’s postal service Correus began transporting the ventilators to Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, just outside the city of Barcelona, after receiving the green light from the health ministry. 

The postal service are now preparing to deliver up to 300 such units per day, and will deliver them to other hospitals around Catalonia. 

The OxyGEN project took just two weeks to become an impactful worldwide phenomenon after being born in a small office in Barcelona. The medical project has already arrived in 60 countries and the network has more than 5,000 collaborators, and is a result of the ongoing global pandemic. 

Its mission is to tackle the shortage of automatic respirators which is being seen in health centers around the world. "We designed a machine using a 'low tech' approach that would enable mass production around the world," says Ignasi Plaza, CEO of and chief executive of the OxyGEN project. 

The open source technical drawings and list of materials needed to produce the respirators are available on a web page accessible to everyone, contributing massively to its success.

Respira by Innova

Another such project aimed at providing assistance and extra resources to hospitals and health centers is Respira, created by the group GPA Innova, an industrial design company in Barcelona. 

The company already began production on ventilators before being given the green light by the health service, and did so at the factory of the company MAM, located in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda. Initially, they will be able to make 100 units a day, but this could expand to 1,000 every week

The company's CEO says they are receiving orders from all over the world, but will prioritize those in Catalonia. "This afternoon, the health ministry will communicate with all centers that want to join the clinical trial” he said. For this reason, he said that they are waiting to know how many units need to be manufactured for each hospital.

Officials from GPA Innova also met with leaders from the Spanish health department in Pedro Sánchez's government. "We have been informed that this machine is the most suitable for Spanish hospitals, so we also expect an order from the state Government shortly," he says.


  • Seat workers on the production line putting together new ventilators to be sent to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic (photo courtesy of Seat)

  • Seat workers on the production line putting together new ventilators to be sent to hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic (photo courtesy of Seat)