Arrow works on ventilators project, looks to boost virus testing

UK effort to build thousands of ventilators, supported by Centennial tech company


One of Centennial's largest employers is lending its forward-thinking tech expertise to a collaboration of businesses that aims to build thousands of ventilators — machines that help hospital patients breathe — in the United Kingdom. Arrow Electronics also is pushing to increase ventilator production and COVID-19 testing capacity in the United States.

“Through one of our partnerships, our teams are working overtime to support a government-private consortium to convert advanced automotive production plants to manufacture (thousands) of ventilators as quickly as possible,” said John Hourigan, spokesman for Arrow.

Arrow, an engineering and technology company headquartered at 9201 E. Dry Creek Road in Centennial, is using its global reach to assist a group of businesses that calls itself VentilatorChallengeUK. The group came together to support the National Health Service — the U.K.'s public health care system — in fighting COVID-19, the disease caused by a widespread coronavirus.

This consortium brings together some of the “most innovative companies in the world,” Dick Elsy, chief executive of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said in a news release.

“Every day, their highly skilled staff collaborate to create solutions that help millions of people, and this project is no different,” Elsy, who chairs VentilatorChallengeUK, said in the release. “They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries.”

The NHS needs 30,000 ventilators within weeks to treat coronavirus patients, The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported in a March 26 article.

Companies in VentilatorChallengeUK had received formal orders from the government in excess of 10,000 units, according to a March news release by the group.

“We are producing additional ventilators solely for use within the NHS,” said James White, a spokesman for the group. “If and when we are in a position to supply ventilators overseas, we will.”

Production began in early April, and the group is looking to build “as many as we can as fast as we can,” White said.

Arrow's role in the effort is to contribute components and related engineering services.

On the U.S. side, Arrow is distributing components to several initiatives to increase ventilator production, Hourigan said.

Arrow is also working to help hospitals meet the increased demand for testing in the U.S., according to Hourigan.

“Arrow is working on the system control center to support a major global medical devices (company) in getting COVID-19 test kits to hospitals and test centers,” Hourigan said.

The company, Abbott, shipped 150,000 tests to locations in the U.S., according to a March news release from the company. Tests already were sent to hospital and academic medical center labs in 18 states including Illinois, California, New York, Massachusetts and Washington, the release said.

Arrow is contributing to Abbott’s effort to scale up its manufacturing production of tests. Abbott had set a goal to provide up to 1 million tests per week by the end of March, "ramping up production to the highest levels possible," the release said.

More than 900,000 in the U.S. may require ventilator care during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Society of Critical Care Medicine. Such projections are gross estimates, and some of the assumptions on which they're based are uncertain, the nonprofit notes.

An analysis by that nonprofit said U.S. hospitals have 62,000 full-featured ventilators for advanced intensive care units with nearly 100,000 more with lesser capabilities, the Washington Post reported in March.

Arrow Electronics, Centennial Colorado, COVID-19


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