Surviving the Pandemic by Katie Andrews at CBE+

CBE+ are proud to have continued production throughout the entirety of the COVID 19 pandemic, one key factor in the ability to survive has been our adaptability to the situation.

In April CBE+ undertook the challenge to machine critical components for ventilators in an extremely short timeframe to support the UK NHS throughout the pandemic. Ventilators are vital pieces of equipment in the fight against coronavirus, taking oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide when people are too ill to breathe on their own. The UK government needed to add 1,200 ventilators to its system in less than two weeks and forecasted up to 30,000 more could be needed at the peak of the outbreak. Governments and health authorities called on non-health industry manufacturers and universities to help meet these drastic demands.

Rolls Royce were a member of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium and depended on SMEs like CBE+ to produce thousands of parts for the unexpected orders. In October CBE+ received special recognition from the tier 1 aerospace supplier, as a business who went above and beyond throughout their involvement with the project.

CBE+ is a specialist sub-contractor operating from modern, purpose-built facilities in Chesterfield specialising in CNC machining, Electroless Nickel Plating, Gears and Laboratory services. The group was formed by Cooper Brown Enterprises who invested in four separate businesses to bring integrated supply chains to global markets including Aerospace and Oil and Gas.

Richard Holdgate, production manager said “The ventilator parts were something we had never dealt with before. The order had to be qualified, programmed and tested then, when perfected, machined and inspected. Completing the parts both quickly and to high standard taught us just how flexible we could be, with both the sectors we serve and our turnaround times. Teamwork was key. Several of the engineers working on the project were trainees and apprentices, who took the challenge in their stride and were vital to its success.”

One young engineer explained “My role included many aspects of producing the parts. Most of the parts needed to be made on a specific machine, where I am one of the most experienced and skilled operators able to use. I was the key person involved in writing the programme from scratch as the parts were a brand-new product to us.”

A trainee described the value of the project “It made me proud to be part of something that is helping the country during this crisis. Everyone sees the news and knows the demand for ventilators right now, and the repercussions of not having enough. What we have done will effectively save lives now and, in the future, it makes it all worth it.”

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