Content and Code Helps Car Manufacturer Meet Ventilator Challenge

Jun 4, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

Motor Giant’s Production Line Rolls Faster with SharePoint

Ensuring the NHS is equipped to weather the coronavirus storm remains a crucial part of the UK Government’s strategy, including meeting its critical need for ventilators.

Having been called upon by Microsoft to support the UK Ventilator Challenge participants with their Microsoft Teams usage and collaboration requirements, we were called on once more to donate our skills and time to a critical cause.

In this case, we used the power of Power Apps and Power Automate to assist one of the major contributors to the Ventilator Challenge – a  global vehicle manufacturer (who has asked us to respect their confidentiality in this case).  This globally recognised name in cars quickly turned its production line from vehicle production to ventilator manufacturing and was among those rising to the Ventilator Challenge.

While manufacture began in earnest some weeks ago, the carmaker quickly recognised the need to improve efficiencies on its production line. Our technologists and SharePoint specialists were delighted to step in – and step up – to assist.


About the Coronavirus Ventilator Challenge and How We’re Helping

The UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge was a rallying cry to the best of British. By harnessing the collective power of industry, technology and engineering firms, a consortium – led by Catapult High Value Manufacturing – would answer the NHS’s need for life-saving medical equipment.

The call for help was based on grim statistics. The NHS had around 8,000 ventilators – based on evidence from China, up to 30,000 could be needed in weeks. In efforts reminiscent of wartime, the Ventilator Challenge was launched to bridge the gap.

The consortium includes Microsoft, Meggitt, GKN, McLaren, Siemens and Airbus, amongst others. And of course, such a gargantuan effort demands a cast list of suppliers and supporters, all donating their time and capabilities to the cause.  Two IT Lab group companies: IT Lab and Content and Code, are proud to feature in this list.

“Initially, we supported the consortium’s work by optimising their collaboration through the use of Microsoft Teams, enabling effective information sharing between all members,” said Peter Sweetbaum, the IT Lab Group’s CEO.  And now, Microsoft have asked us to help a global vehicle manufacturer increase the efficiency of their ventilator production line. By automating processes and improving document management, our team was instrumental in enabling them to meet their production targets.“


How Content and Code is Speeding Up the Manufacture of Ventilators 

Now ventilators –  instead of automobile parts, are rolling off the production line at a plant in England.

“Microsoft approached us and asked us to help this much-respected company, as they were struggling to meet their production targets,” said Chris O’Brien, Products and Services Director at Content and Code. They were already using Office 365, and as Microsoft expert and partner, we were a natural choice as an advisor.”

Medical equipment like ventilators demands a high degree of testing and certification to ensure clinical needs are met. Some of this revolves around physical paperwork, which is scanned from the manufacturer’s production line and lands in SharePoint.

“The safety isn’t solely in the design; it’s about how the ventilators are manufactured and the end-to-end quality management process, which is tightly audited and documented,” added Chris O’Brien. Technology plays a critical role, especially when you add time pressures and scalability to the mix.” So far, Content and Code has helped with:

  • Automating the creation of tracking information related to each ventilator.
  • Helping the manufacturer optimise the production cycle by identifying bottlenecks.
  • Bulk analysis of scanned safety documentation to reduce form errors.
  • Equipping three teams at the plant – production, QA, and audit – with fast access to next tasks due.
  • Removing many of the manual elements from the plant’s document management process. These elements include document tracking and searching.

Technologies used include SharePoint and Power Automate, including the creation of custom SharePoint web parts to provide a fast lookup tool.

Chris O’Brien added: “We’re now doing complex Power Automate work, extracting data from hundreds of excel files into one central store for analysis. This work will help the manufacturer identify which areas of production have the most errors. We’re also looking to increase the level of process automation and providing Power Apps assistance to  simplify the experience of the teams working on the shop floor.”

To-date, Chris O’Brien and his team have devoted 100+ hours to improving the company’s ventilator production line. And given the plant is working around the clock, this has meant much evening and weekend work too.

Today, the manufacturer is meeting its ventilator production target. As the coronavirus R number begins to show signs of stabilising, it’s everyone’s fervent hope that the ventilators won’t be needed. But – with the consortium’s will and talent, the Government is well-positioned for any subsequent peaks of the virus.



Christine Ellis

Content Manager, IT Lab Group

Christine joined the IT Lab marketing team in 2017, following the acquisition of cybersecurity specialists Perspective Risk. Her focus is on delivering content that meets the needs of a diverse client base, and that demonstrates the group’s expanding portfolio of solutions and services. Quality and the customer are at the heart of everything she does.

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