VENTILATORS and a disinfecting robot are being designed and built to help the NHS in this time of national emergency by a business known for developing world-first solutions to complex industry challenges.
Forth Engineering in Cumbria is known for its innovations which have been applied to the nuclear, oil and gas, renewables and other sectors all over the world.
Now Forth managing director Mark Telford is answering an SOS call to produce ventilators for the NHS and is designing remotely operated robots to help in the fight against coronavirus.
“When people have a problem, we come up with solutions. That’s our skill-set. That’s what we do,” said Mark.
“We are known across industry for responding quickly and coming up with quick, cost- efficient solutions which are ready to go.
“Our unique skills have been developed over the last 20 years of solving complex issues on the Sellafield site.
“If anywhere in the world can pull this off working in adverse conditions against the clock and to a tight budget then we can, and Cumbrians can,” said Mark.
“We have been approached by those who know us for our work in the nuclear sector to see if we can manufacture ventilators. “We are working now with Sellafield engineers to build a prototype ventilator and hope to have one on the table in the next couple of days.
“Then it’s how we can make 10, 100, 1,000, as many as are needed to help in the fight against coronavirus.
“We will form two teams - one team to develop and fine tune the prototype, another team to set up the manufacture facility.
“We have got the people, the skills, the stock, the equipment, the material, and also the supply chain, so we hope to be in production within a week.
“We have exacting standards with our proven products tried and tested in the nuclear industry.
“We will be applying those same standards to this work to ensure all the products meet the necessary medical criteria.”
Forth, which employs 54 people and has bases at Maryport, Barrow and Cleator Moor, will be reopening a production line at Cleator Moor which it had closed earlier in the week due to projects being put on pause because of the coronavirus.
It’s not just ventilators which Forth will be producing. It has also learned from how China tackled the coronavirus crisis and is also developing a disinfecting robot.
The robot will be able to be worked remotely, controlled from a safe distance, to help the NHS and other organisations keep areas clean during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We looked at what China did. So we are now starting to design and develop a tracked robot vehicle fitted with a disinfectant vapour cannon, and cameras, and lights and whatever is needed, which can sterilise ambulances, schools, hospitals, shops and supermarkets, wherever it’s required.
“It works in a similar way to a vapour cigarette in that it will fire high pressure vapour which will settle in every part of a designated area, it could be the back of an ambulance, supermarkets, food shops, schools which are teaching children of essential workers, wherever it is needed. “We are starting work on the robot now, and I would hope we will have it mobilised next week. That’s how quickly we always work, it’s just that the sectors which need our help are different right now and this is a national emergency.”
Forth has also kept its trade counter open at Maryport to help service those on the front line, particularly in the food sourcing and distribution industry. Forth’s plant and equipment supplies will help keep those businesses moving in their time of need.
Mark said: “We want to support those on the front line, such as across agriculture, fisheries, milk production, to make sure we can help them keep delivering food and supplies to the nation.”
Forth has a global reputation for its innovative solutions to industry challenges.
Its recent projects include working to develop a world-first Friction Stir Welding Robotic Crawler (FSWbot) for internal repair and refurbishment of pipelines which can be used by a range of industries without having to stop production.
It has also recently worked with partners on developing the pioneering Hullguard system of protecting floating offshore installations from corrosion without using divers which has been successfully deployed for the first time in the UK North Sea.
Mark said: “If anyone has an industry problem, and they are looking for a solution, then we would be glad to hear from them, and be pleased to try to help. It’s what we know, and it’s what we do.”