At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe has faced an important shortage of essential medical equipment. One of the most demanded equipment was non-invasive respirators, adequate for the treatment of the first symptoms of a serious case of COVID-19.

The European healthcare systems had several difficulties to satisfy the high demand of specific medical equipment for respiratory insufficiencies in COVID patients. Because of the global situation, the demand of this kind of equipment increased dramatically and the European manufacturing capabilities were exceeded. The situation on the global market was similar, causing a shortage of respirators.

To avoid similar shortages in case of future crises, Europe needs to be prepared. The Reservist project aims to overcome this challenge by developing the capability to adapt existing industrial production lines and turning them into emergency manufacturing lines to scale up the production of vital medical products. This procedure also helps Europe to build capacity to manufacture emergency equipment on the continent, thus reducing dependence on import in these exceptional circumstances.

For the non-invasive respiratory equipment fabrication, partners Normagrup, Arcelor, and Idonial are developing and performing the specific adaptations of Normagrup’s manufacturing lines. Moreover, product design also needs to be adapted to production: screening of alternative parts or redesigning parts is being investigated, to ensure their production out of alternative, more readily available materials, serving as a back-up in case of the shortage of original pieces.

This will allow the transformation of the production lines and the quick start of the production of respirators with a 48-hour response, in case of a future pandemic or crisis.