Teamwork works to support Ventilator Challenge UK.

Teamwork works to support Ventilator Challenge UK.

In times of crisis, it’s important for businesses to rally together to find new, collaborative solutions. To this end, leading manufacturer of power tools, Makita UK and valued distributor Terrier Tools, recently assisted specialist contract electronics manufacturer, Surface Technology International Ltd (STI), in its contribution to VentilatorChallengeUK – a consortium of companies rapidly producing ventilators in the fight against COVID-19.

Makita UK has helped specialist contract electronics manufacturer, STI, take part in the UK Government’s Ventilator Challenge UK. STI joined a number of leading technology and engineering firms to help produce 11,000+ ventilator units as quickly as possible, to help the NHS cope with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

To meet this demand, STI looked to use its existing tooling options for manufacturing ventilators. However, the manual torque wrenches and screwdrivers were not suitable for the task in hand and in turn, the company’s ventilator build process was not fully optimised. With an urgent need to speed up production, STI contacted its local tool supplier Terrier Tools for advice on more suitable tool solutions to help streamline and speed up the process. Steven Hughes of Terrier Tools immediately recommended Makita’s highly engineered range of specialist production tools, which outperform traditional construction tools for mass production assembly applications, enabling faster production and greater torque accuracy.

With this critical task at hand, technical specialists from Makita UK liaised with Terrier Tools to identify which specialist tools would best meet STI’s specific project applications. So far, STI has received 21 specialist production tools, which have helped the company to deliver ventilators in a more efficient manner. This has included a selection of programmable speed control screwdrivers, both pistol-grip and angle, which were used to assemble components to a specific torque. Additionally, the company has received a number of standard drill drivers to help secure non-specific fasteners. To run these specialist tools as efficiently as possible, STI purchased 36 of Makita’s innovative LXT battery units and 15 charging units. As a result, STI was able to speed up production and ensure its important work could continue around the clock so that the ventilators could be delivered on schedule.

Speaking on Makita’s assistance, as well as his company’s role in the VentilatorChallengeUK, Jon Ashford, Project Engineering Manager at STI commented: “Using Makita’s range has really helped us to increase our production efficiency, as well as allowing us to remove additional inspection steps for torque checking. Initially, we attempted this project using manual torque drivers, but this soon led to a bottleneck in the production process. The Makita tools provide the user with a visual and audible aid to ensure the correct torque has been applied to each individual fixing. As such, adopting the solutions have helped to make a big difference”.

Given many of the logistical challenges imposed by the current pandemic, Makita UK went to great lengths to ensure its products were delivered in a safe and timely manner. As a result, the company decided to deliver directly to the end-user, which helped expedite the delivery process by 24 hours. Similarly, to allow the team at STI to deliver the highest quality results, members of Makita UK’s training team visited the company’s headquarters to deliver specialist training. As with any purchase from the company, Makita UK is always on hand to deliver training to firms when they feel it is necessary. Thanks to this, production staff at STI have been able to boost productivity and guarantee more accurate, durable frame production.

Steve Edwards, Regional Sales Manager at Makita UK added: “A key part of our business culture is to help those around us, as well as the wider community. Right now, this ambition is more important than ever for businesses, who must come together and help the country overcome the challenge posed by COVID-19. That’s why we’re so pleased to have been able to help STI as it took part in the VentilatorChallengeUK. With help from Steven Hughes at Terrier Tools, our team has specified and delivered an extensive range of specialist production tools, which make the task of assembling ventilator frames more efficient. We’re delighted to hear some of the units that STI manufactured are now helping to save lives in NHS facilities across the country.”

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