Vauxhall/Opel Van & Seat plants transform to meet Coronavirus PPE needs


Workers from Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro van’s Luton plant have downed their regular tools in favour of slightly more clinical surroundings to meet huge UK’s National Health Service (NHS) demand for ventilator production, due to the Coronavirus.

Vauxhall/Opel is providing 22 staff to the Luton site of Smiths Medical, a division of Smiths Group plc, which is being tasked with significantly increasing production of Smiths Group’s paraPAC plus approved ventilators and have been in use within the NHS for over 10 years.

Working on a static production line, the team of 20 assemblers, plus a Team Leader and Supervisor are conducting in-line quality testing as the ventilators are produced, with a stringent pass/fail safeguard in place to ensure that the units meet the highest possible standards.

All employees will be respecting Vauxhall and Smiths Group’s strict COVID-19 protocols to keep them safe while they work together on this important effort.

“I’m immensely proud that Vauxhall workers have been able to make such a valuable contribution during these difficult times,” said Stephen Norman, Managing Director, Vauxhall Motors. ‘Our plant employees are used to working on lines where repeatable high quality is essential, and I’m confident that their skills will transfer exceptionally well to the production of much-needed ventilators for the NHS.”

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Group’s Martorell facility in Spain that produces the new Seat Leon has been transformed to manufacture automated ventilators for local healthcare authorities to help battle the global pandemic.

“The motivation of everyone participating in this project is that with our know-how we can mass-produce equipment that will save lives”, explains Nicolás Mora from the Production area of SEAT Martorell.

A team of engineers designed a total of 13 different prototypes before the final design was agreed upon. The ventilator features printed gears, gearbox shafts from the El Prat production facility and the adapted motor of a windscreen wiper. Each ventilator has more than 80 electronic and mechanical components and undergoes a thorough quality control with ultraviolet light sterilisation.

The ventilators were designed in collaboration with Protofy.XYZ and assembled at SEAT’s Martorell facilities. The factory is bringing together 150 employees from different areas, adapting their usual workstation, to build the ventilators in the spot where the SEAT Leon is usually assembled in Martorell.

“Taking an assembly line that manufactures subframes, a car part, and adapting it to make ventilators has been a lengthy, difficult job involving many areas of the company, and we managed to do it in the record time of one week”, added Sergio Arreciado, part of SEAT’s Process Engineering.