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Business update: photonics industry rises to Covid-19 challenge

09 Apr 2020

Photonics companies and organizations continue to respond to pandemic, from making safety equipment to adapting operations to maintain production.

Medical device developer Biolase is joining the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak by teaming up with Korea-based Mekics, an intensive care unit equipment manufacturer, to supply Mekics' MTV-1000 ICU-grade portable ventilator through Biolase’s FDA-registered manufacturing facility in California. The MTV-1000 ventilator has received FDA authorization for emergency use during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Todd Norbe, CEO of Biolase, commented on April 8th, ”We expect to leverage our facility for the manufacturing and delivery of the MTV-1000 ventilator and have already received over $10 million in orders. We expect to continue to focus our efforts to quickly ramp up production, with the expectation to double the number of orders over the next few weeks.”

The collaboration aims to bring the MTV-1000 to the United States for the first time. The MTV-1000 is a field-tested, ICU-level, portable ventilator that has pressure-control and an internal positive end-expiratory pressure feature, which is often required for COVID-19 patients. Jong Cheol Kim, CEO at Mekics, said, ”We are doing our best to meet the demand of the U.S. market. It is an honor to help the American public in any way we can.”

BAE Systems is donating more than 120,000 face shields to help protect the UK’s NHS staff on the frontline. The company this week stated, “As well as supporting the national ventilator effort, employees across our business have rallied to donate vital Personal Protective Equipment to the NHS to help protect medical staff.”

Employees in BAE’s Air sector, who normally produce parts for combat aircraft including Eurofighter Typhoon, and BAE’s Submarines business are now 3D printing parts for newly-designed face shields. Meanwhile, the defense technologies company is sourcing tens of thousands of additional face shields through its supply chain to distribute to the NHS, which means BAE expects to deliver more than 120,000 face shields to the NHS in April.

“At the same time as talking to suppliers, colleagues from our Technology team and our Air sector joined forces to design and manufacture our first 3D printed face shield in less than 24 hours. We kept in constant dialogue with our NHS contacts to ensure this met their requirements and had the first shields with them in less than two days.

Oxford Optronix received an emergency waiver from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier this week that allows the company to proceed with the manufacture of its Flo-Ox Oxygen Monitor.

The Flo-Ox supports the use of the recently-announced UCL-Ventura cPAP device breathing aid, by ensuring the device is correctly set up for the particular requirements of the patient being treated, and to provide ongoing monitoring of the oxygen being delivered to the patient.

Carl Zeiss Meditec reports that its revenue in Q2 2019/20 is “stagnating – with further impact on business development expected for the second half of the financial year.” The division of Carl Zeiss, which manufactures a wide range of optical and photonics-based medical systems, blames the pandemic, added that “currently no financial outlook for 2019/20 is possible.” Carl Zeiss Meditec achieved revenue of €715 million (previous year €667.2 million) in the first six months of fiscal year 2019/20. Growth slowed significantly during the second quarter 2019/20, corresponding to revenue of approx. €345 million (previous year €343.5 million).

Accompanying these results, the company stated, “In light of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the associated negative effects on the global economy, management expects business development to be significantly impacted in the second half of 2019/20. For this reason, the executive management of Carl Zeiss Meditec will no longer abide by the forecast published in the annual report in December, 2019 for fiscal year 2019/20.”

Maintaining delivery capability.

Maintaining delivery capability.

Toptica Photonics adds that it is “closely monitoring the evolution of the corona pandemic across the globe and we are assessing the situation in our various locations, the impact on employees, customers and suppliers.”

The company stated, “We have implemented effective preventive measures throughout the organization in order to maintain our production and delivery capability. The sales and engineering teams are working remotely where possible, and our production employees work in a strictly separate shift system in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible. Business trips are suspended and are replaced by video chats; meetings have been reduced and are done using digital communication tools; factory visits are reduced and are discouraged unless critical.”

The US AIM Photonics initiative (American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics) this week published an announcement on Covid-19: “All AIM Photonics New York facilities will implement the following policies directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo:

In the same vein, Hamamatsu Photonics Europe this week announced, “We continue to monitor developments with respect to the Covid-19. Our parent company has assessed the impact and status of their supply chain and they have confirmed that currently there is no impact to the supply chain of our manufactured products.

“We realise this situation remains very dynamic with information continuing to change day-to-day, however, should there be any change to the above we will update this statement as appropriate. Additional measures are being taken at Hamamatsu offices according to the local situation in each country, please contact your local Hamamatsu office for further information."

Hyperion OpticsECOPTIKMad City Labs, Inc.HÜBNER PhotonicsLASEROPTIK GmbHPhoton Lines LtdCeNing Optics Co Ltd
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