Chennai, April 20 (IANS) At a time when the country is faced with the challenge of arranging adequate number of ventilators for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) patients, Southern Railway has developed a prototype of non-invasive low cost ventilator under ‘Project SWAAS’ at its Golden Rock workshop in Tiruchy, Tamil Nadu, at a cost of Rs 25,000.
The development comes almost a week after the Kapurthala Rail Coach Factory developed a low cost ventilator named ‘Jeewan’.
Southern Railway spokesperson B. Guganesan said, “The GOC workshop has developed a prototype of non-invasive low cost ventilator (continuous positive airway pressure) for Covid-19 patients named Project SWAAS.”
He said, the ventilator has been designed and developed by GOC.
Guganesan said that the Southern Railway, in an effort to join hands with the nation in the fight against Covid-19, had launched ‘Project SWAAS’ for the development of a low cost ventilator system, which meets the required clinical parameters.
“A team was formed with officers, engineers and doctors from Railway Hospitals in Perambur, Ponmalai and Madurai, the Government Medical College in Kottayam, and AIIMS Delhi,” he said.
The official further said that amid the nationwide lockdown, bringing the group together was made possible through WhatsApp and virtual meetings.
“Once the technical requirements were finalized, the Golden Rock team went to their sketch board. Simplicity of design, portability, feasibility of mass production with available resources were the considerations the team had to address.
“The team zeroed in on actuating the AMBU bag by suitable mechanical system which can be controlled electronically to obtain the desired clinical parameters such as breath per minute (BPM), tidal volume (TiV) and inspiration to expiration (IE) ratio,” he said.
He also said that the ventilator can be connected with an external oxygen supply to provide the desired fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) concentration.
Based on the control parameters set by the doctors, a programmed electronic control unit calculates the time period, speed and extend to which the AMBU bag has to be mechanically actuated in order to deliver air at the required quantity, he said.
Guganesan also said that the prototype ventilator has multiple modes of operation along with a pendant for the patient to alert the medical professionals by means of a buzzer and an emergency stop.
Discussing about the power supply for the ventilator, Guganesan said it operates on 230 V AC power supply along with battery backup of 24 hours, ensuring uninterrupted working even in case of power failure.
“Real time monitoring of control parameters is facilitated through an LCD display unit,” he said.
He also said that majority of the components used for the system were made in house and the required medical kits were procured through trade.
“The cost involved in developing the ventilator prototype is approximately Rs 25,000,” he said, adding that based on the feedback from pulmonologists at the Railway Hospitals, further improvement is being made by incorporating pressure and flow sensor which will accurately monitor the peak inspiratory pressure (PIP), positive peak expiratory pressure (PEEP) and inspired volume which may further increase the cost .
“Once the prototype is approved by the competent authority, the GOC workshop plans to start bulk manufacturing of ventilator as per demand,” he said.
Guganesan also said that besides the development of low cost ventilator, the Southern Railway is also preparing medical cots, oxygen cylinder trolleys, oxygen cylinder splitters, PPE kits, face masks and sanitisers at its workshops.