Low-cost ITS robot ventilators for Covid-19 patients

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The simple & low-cost ventilator is a breathing apparatus for Covid-19 patients. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Surabaya – A variety of efforts continue to be exerted by Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) on helping communities face the Covid-19 pandemic virus today. In the field of technological innovation, ITS, through its Ventilator Team from the Department of Physical Engineering, has designed and built a simple and low-cost mechanical ventilator (or robot ventilator). 

ITS Rector Prof Dr Ir Mochamad Ashari MEng revealed that this Robot Ventilator also represents cooperation between ITS and Universitas Airlangga (RSUA) and Dr Soetomo Hospital as a partner in researchers and prospective users of this innovation. This device is also hoped to overcome the problem of a limited number of ventilators in Indonesia. “In fact, the number of positive Covid-19 patients continues to rise every day; in fact, this tool is needed right now,” he declared in the release received by the Independent Observer, Wednesday (4/8/2020). 

He also explained that the development of the robot ventilator was an example of a collaborative effort with the Health Facility Security Hall (BPFK) Surabaya, so that development of the device to required standards can be followed by immediate mass production. “This tool is also currently subject to due diligence, operating for 2×24 hours nonstop,” he added. 

The ventilator uses an open source design based on one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While mechanical systems and certain specifications are adopted from MIT, the electronics and monitoring system was developed entirely by the ITS team. This ventilator relies on the availability of existing components in the market, with consideration of convenience in fabrication later to meet a great demand for ventilators. Settings include Respiration Rate, Inspiration/Expiration Ratio, Tidal Volume, PEEP (Positive End-Expiratory Pressure), and PIP (Peak Inspiration Pressure). 

Head of the Department of Physical Engineering’s ITS team, Dr. RER Nat Aulia MT Nasution explained that this Robot Ventilator can serve as a breathing apparatus for Covid-19 sufferers experiencing disruption in their respiratory system. Compared to existing ventilators in a number of hospitals, the ITS robot ventilator is also designed to be easily moved and manufactured more easily. “Maybe the obstacle to be faced later is the availability of components,” observed Aulia. 

He points out that the components used are easily obtained in the market: the ITS product is based on the use of an Ambu Bag (Bag Valve Mask/BVM), known by the term “manual resuscitator”. Components are built from acrylic metal, easily found on the market. 

However, Aulia stated that to ramp up massive production will require cooperation with a factory and providers of raw materials. “And most importantly the components used will still support the criteria of clinical use of the robot, in accordance with BPFK standards later,” he said. 

Ashari pointed out that ventilator products on the market today can reach a price in the range of IDR 800 million per unit. However, the artificial ventilator is estimated to be able to emerge at a price of only about IDR 20 million per unit. Manufacturing our own is important today since many countries do not intend to export their ventilators, as they need them for their own hospitals. Thus the manufacture of this robot ventilator becomes a solution for market scarcity. (*/est)