Govt asks ventilator makers to indigenise spare parts

With Covid-19 cases seeing a major spike, PMO instructs Niti Aayog to explore ways and means of becoming self-sufficient in manufacturing of medical ventilators.

The Prime Minister’ Office (PMO) has directed Niti Aayog to explore ways and means of becoming self-sufficient in manufacturing of medical ventilators urgently required in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. Import of spare parts is leading to delay; therefore, there is a need to indigenise components required for making ventilators.

In a major push to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the PMO has given instructions to the Niti Aayog to work on this aspect on a priority basis. Acting on the instructions, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant recently organised an e-conference under his chairmanship in this connection.

Principal Scientific Advisor Dr K. Vijayaraghavan, Chairman DRDO Dr G. Satheesh Reddy and top officials of Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade also attended the meeting. Heads and representatives of ventilators manufacturing companies, component manufacturing and start-ups were also invited.

The public health system at the time of onset of Covid-19 had 19,000 ventilators, while private health system had 30,000-35,000 ventilators. Foreseeing a shortage, an order for manufacturing 60,000 ventilators was placed with four Indian ventilator manufacturers.

 However, ventilator parts such as sensors, chips, micro-controllers are not manufactured in India and have to be imported. The government is of the view that this dependence on imports has to be done away with and Indian manufactures need to be encouraged. In the meeting of the stakeholders, ways and challenges of indigenising production of components were discussed. The government lauded efforts of the manufacturers of having committed to delivering 60,000 ventilators in the last three months. This is six times the annual requirement in normal years.

Sources said the DPIIT officials said that technical specifications of ventilators and its components have been shared with startups and component manufacturers in procuring specific components such as AC/ DC converter, miniature general purpose filter, thermo electric device, pressure pumps, sensors, optical encoders, oxygen sensors, flow sensors and sustenance valves.

CNC, AgVa, AMTZ, Jyoti, BEL, the manufacturers, explained the current status of production and highlighted some of the problems they are facing. They said subsystems and electronic components needed for manufacturing ventilators are a part of larger electronic ecosystems. Therefore, to make India a manufacturing hub of ventilators, a strong electronic manufacturing ecosystem is required.

Currently, display units, batteries, power cells are predominantly imported into the country. Almost 90% hospital equipment need various types of sensors and these need to be manufactured locally to counter challenges faced due to existing monopolies of high prices. The pressure pumps and sensors provided are substandard and supplies are delayed. The government should think about PLI scheme for motor, compressors, turbine, and other ventilator related component. India should build a strong centralized testing facility to test and standardize ventilators.

There was a consensus in the meeting that the initiative of indigenisation would have a deep impact in strengthening the Indian supply chain and reducing dependence on imports. It was also decided that interaction between the ventilator manufacturers and start-ups would be further intensified and expanded through conferences.