PMB engineers ready to re-start ventilator production, "open source" blueprints
Almost 20 years ago, Clifford Machines of Pietermaritzburg stopped producing a ventilator specially designed for local conditions because public sector gatekeepers demanded bribes. Despite their advanced age, some of those ventilators are still in use in SA and Zimbabwean hospitals. Unwilling to participate in corruption, the company switched to selling other machines into the rest of the world. Today 95% of the R100m a year business's products are now exported, mostly to the USA. But with the Covid-19 crisis making ventilators a strategic resource for SA, co-owner Iain Ambler says he's dusting off the blueprints and updating the software, with an updated version of the ventilator due for completion next week. Ambler says as it will be impossible for his company to satisfy expected demand, he is willing to "open source" the ventilator's blueprints, enabling other engineering companies to also start making these desperately needed lifesavers.