May 14, 2020: UK battery company Denchi Group has reverse engineered batteries for vital ventilators destined for ICU wards in the UK, after customs procedures would not allow the equipment to be imported from China with their accompanying lithium batteries, the firm said on May 13.
The Bank of China donated 20 ventilators to treat critically ill patients suffering from the Covid-19 virus, but the NHS was unable to use them as the lithium batteries could not be flown and the ventilators arrived without a power supply.
By coincidence, Denchi was talking to the National Health Service (better known as the NHS) about future battery needs — and when the matter was brought up, the company immediately offered to help.
Seven days later, batteries were produced, tested and installed in the machines.
“This was quite a challenge because there was no electrical specification data or drawings of the original battery from the Chinese manufacturer, which meant the replacement solution had to basically be reverse engineered,” says chairman Nick Russel.
“Also, the original batteries did not comply with an industry standard form factor, thereby presenting certain difficulties — in terms of mechanically fitting all the cells and the accompanying controller electronics board within the required slot dimensions.”
However, the new batteries were completed within seven days and the batteries have been donated.
“This ventilator battery project was something we wanted to be involved in,” says Russel. “Our engineers put a huge amount of effort into it, analyzing the equipment and coming up with a fully effective and operationally optimized solution.”
The company is no stranger to this kind of engineering, with 25% of the firm’s business involved in producing necessary components for customers when supply chains fail.
“Over the past two or three years some industrial customers have come and said they’ve got problems with offshore supply chains. Buying offshore made a huge difference 15-20 years ago but wages have gone up so much in the east now it’s changed, and that, with the extra hassle, means it’s an option to source nearer to home,” says Russel.
Denchi Group, based in Thurso, Scotland, supplies a variety of batteries to customers in the energy storage, military, medical, transport, industrial and renewables sectors.