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Electrocomponents support through COVID-19 initiatives

7th August 2020
Alex Lynn

Numerous employees across the Group’s businesses in Asia Pacific, EMEA and North America have been mobilised on these efforts and are actively engaged in COVID-19 initiatives, enabling essential services such as healthcare, utilities and the public sector to continue operating and to keep frontline workers safe.

Electrocomponents has ploughed significant investment into ensuring that critical PPE products remain available throughout the pandemic. The company has also played an active part in accelerating ventilator production, providing vital technical support for manufacturers, easy access to parts for prototyping, building supply chains, and prioritising products for volume production.

It has also worked closely with customers to accelerate the design of machines for the test and development of vaccines against COVID-19. Another priority has been educational support, with several projects launched to help parents educate their children at home.

PPE enabling safe return to work

  • RS Components (RS) and Allied Electronics & Automation (Allied) have both developed custom product bundles to enable safe onsite operations and to support remote working. Products range from RS PRO janitorial and cleaning kits, safety and distancing signage, contactless temperature measurement tools, and individual PPE kits containing respirator masks or non-woven three-ply face masks suitable for use in non-medical industries. RS and Allied are also stocking disposable medical grade face masks designed to prevent cross-contamination of bacteria between healthcare professionals and patients.

3D printed visors

  • RS partnered with the international charity Give Back Ghana to donate and distribute 10,000 3D-printed face shields into some of the most rural and impoverished areas of West Africa.The shields were printed by the National 3D Printing Society (N3DPS) volunteer network in the UK, a short-term initiative supported by RS’ DesignSpark engineering community to produce 3D-printed visors as a stopgap measure to relieve the pressure on injection moulding companies. The cessation of this initiative resulted in surplus face shields becoming available to divert to countries outside of the EU. In addition to the Ghana donations, 2,000 face shields were distributed to health workers in Moldova via plastics manufacturer igus, which assembled the shields. A further 3,000 were made available to Allied for use in North America.
  • In the UK, RS created a 3D printing farm at its site in Corby, UK to produce visor frames as part of the N3DPS initiative.
  • At Allied’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, a 1,500 square foot space was fitted out as a 3D-printing and assembly operation for PPE, staffed by employee volunteers.

Ventilator and respirator production

  • Ventilator solutions from four key suppliers (Maxim, Microchip, Renesas and STMicroelectronics) have been made available through a dedicated landing page on RS online for engineers looking to build their own ventilator.
  • In Italy, RS supported OpenBreath, an engineering project aimed at the development and production of an open-source low-cost lung ventilator.
  • In France, RS supported four industrial designers with components required for prototyping artificial respirators, and donated 2,000 face masks to the Beauvais Hospital Centre near Paris. The hospital’s main oxygen supplier, Air Liquide, awarded RS for its support.
  • In Spain, RS supported The Open Ventilator,a healthcare approved respirator designed to assist COVID-19 patients with severe breathing difficulties.
  • RS has also been working on initiatives to create supply chains for the development and manufacture of a lower cost continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which can be used as a ventilator to help patients who do not need to be in intensive care or are in recovery after coming out of intensive care, as well as for the manufacture of an oximeter – a sensor which tests the oxygen levels in patients’ blood.

Educational support

  • The RS Education team created a number of STEM-related initiatives to meet the challenge of studying from home. One project, the STEM Extraordinary Engineering Challenge tasked schoolchildren in the UK to design an engineering solution to address a global challenge. The team also released a new series of smart conservation themed lesson plans offering structured activities and teaching instructions.
  • OKdo launched ‘Kits for Kids’, a project providing support and information on how to keep children learning and entertained through the use of single-board computer products.

Across all continents, Electrocomponents’ businesses are continuing to develop initiatives and to ensure the availability of PPE throughout the pandemic. A snapshot of the numerous examples includes:

  • In the Netherlands and Germany, the staunch efforts of employees over a public holiday weekend enabled an order to be fulfilled for a Dutch company to produce 500 respiratory systems.
  • In Germany, the RS Bad Hersfeld distribution centre donated 800 face masks to the German Red Cross to help protect volunteers.
  • In the Americas, staff moved quickly to deliver critical parts to help fit out a US navy hospital ship.
  • In Birmingham, UK, the RS Local branch responded immediately to an urgent call to help a local dialysis centre calibrate thermometers, fast-tracking the process to get them back to the customer the same afternoon.
  • In Spain, RS donated PPE for use by health professionals and frontline workers at the IFEMA hospital in Madrid.
  • In Singapore, RS supported a technology company and health agency to develop an automated thermal screening solution which can be used to monitor people’s temperatures in public or commercial spaces.
  • In China, RS partnered with several transport bodies in Huizhou to deploy thermal imaging systems in harbour and railway stations across the city, enabling teams to perform temperature screenings quickly and effectively for daily commuters.
  • In Japan, the RS team ensured valuable freight slots on flights were secured to satisfy high demand for products in the food, beverage and medical industries.
  • In Australia, RS supported an aviation solutions provider designing contactless health-screening technology for passengers at the airport.

Lindsley Ruth, CEO Electrocomponents, commented: “I have never been more proud of our people than in seeing them pull together during this time of international crisis. As well as taking care of each other and developing new ways for us to support our customers, many of whom are on the front line in critical industries, they have gone above and beyond to join the broader fight against COVID-19.

“There are a great many innovative initiatives happening in our businesses around the world and we thank all our people for their amazing service in these challenging times.”

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