Coronavirus: London, Ont., company celebrates assembly of 10,000th ventilator

JMP Solutions president and CEO Scott Shawyer stands next to a Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) ventilator that was assembled in London, Ont. Andrew Graham / Global News

An engineering company in London, Ont., is celebrating its latest effort in the fight against COVID-19.

On Thursday, JMP Solutions assembled its 10,000th ventilator, completing its part in a contract with the federal government to supply Canadian hospitals.

Read more: London, Ont., company to assemble low-cost ventilators as part of global collaboration

The other part of the contract sees Vexos, an electronics manufacturer in Markham, Ont., install the electronic components, test the machines, package them and ship them out.

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JMP Solutions was first brought on to the ventilator task through Ventilators For Canadians (V4C), a consortium of entrepreneurs that aims to do just what its name suggests. Their projects have already delivered thousands of ventilators across the country.

JMP Solutions president and CEO Scott Shawyer is a co-founder of V4C and says addressing potential ventilator shortages amid a pandemic was an intimidating task at first glance.

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“I had no idea what I was getting into, but I really had this huge feeling that I needed to help,” Shawyer said.

From there, JMP Solutions, along with V4C, jumped on to Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM), a global research project that aimed to create an open-source, easy-to-produce ventilator that can be assembled with accessible, off-the-shelf parts.

The project was a success and by late September, the MVM ventilator had received approval from Health Canada.

Read more: April 7: 30,000 ventilators to be made in Canada amid coronavirus pandemic: Trudeau

As for the latest batch of 10,000 ventilators, JMP Solutions’ role was to buy and assemble all of the components, which was a new task for the company.

“Our main focus at JMP is industrial automation for companies in a variety of industries and it’s really not manufacturing ventilators, but a lot of our customers are manufacturers, so we’ve seen a lot of processes and we’ve helped in a lot of processes,” Shawyer said.

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Diving head first into the world of ventilators required a number of renovations to their south London facility, in order to create a space fit for assembling ventilators. Employees also had to receive new training in order to work on such a specialized product.

“Each (workstation) can have up to 10 or 15 different parts and even specialized tools that we’ve designed to install those parts, so the training is very specific not only to the ventilator, but to the specific station where someone is working,” Shawyer said.

Once JMP Solutions found its groove, Shawyer says they were producing 900 units per week.

One of many ventilator workstations that had to be constructed at JMP Solutions. Hanging on the red wall to the right are specialized tools designed for ventilator assembly. Andrew Graham / Global News

“I think it’s a great testament to London ingenuity and our skilled manufacturing employment base,” said Mayor Ed Holder, who had no shortage of pride upon hearing of JMP Solutions’ work.

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“What it says is that when the need is there, London steps up.”

Read more: Canada could approve 1st coronavirus vaccine by end of 2020

Shawyer says V4C is working to find other ways to help out during the pandemic. One example includes fellow V4C member Jim Estill, the president and CEO of Guelph-based appliance manufacturer Danby, who is researching refrigeration solutions for potential vaccines.

While JMP Solutions has completed its end of the bargain, Shawyer says they’ll still be ready to help when the time comes.

“I’m not sure if we’ll need more ventilators, but we’re happy to build more.”

— With files from Global’s Matthew Trevithick

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