Technical textiles save lives: 7. Tilt cushion
Hospitals in Belgium are currently massively using cushions for ventilating Corona patients in the prone position made by our customer Ergotronics. Both production and logistics are running at full speed in order to assist as many Intensive Care departments as possible in their care for these critical patients. This is only possible thanks to the help and efforts of suppliers and a conscious choice in the past to produce locally.
« We believe in the power of local production, close to our innovation engineers and our customers," explains Inge Bruynooghe, CEO of Ergotrics. That's why at the end of 2018 there was a smooth and effective cooperation between Ergotrics, Vinya, a manufacturer of para-medical articles since 1948, and Sioen, leading manufacturer of technical textiles. Final assembly and packaging takes place at A-kwadraat, a company in Turnhout with a quality certificate for medical production. The unique and patented idea of the start-up Ergotrics, combined with the knowledge and experience of these existing companies, resulted in a world first in the medical world in July 2019: the first ever operation on air cushions and an optimal and highly ergonomic new way of positioning patients during operations.
The pandemic forced us to give priority to the certification and production of Inflatable Prone Ventilation (IPV) pillows for use in intensive care units. "Rapid prototyping was used to shorten the innovation process, but the biggest challenge was to increase production capacity. Hospitals placed new orders immediately after the first test order and our inventory strategy was not ready for this," explains Michaël Maes, Production Engineer at Ergotrics, "and in the meantime the first questions came from hospitals in Italy and France.
Caregivers testified on television about the labour-intensive and heavy work of lifting and hoisting the many corona patients who have to be ventilated alternately on the abdomen and back. The uniqueness of the Ergotrics solution is the use of compressed air instead of manual force. In combination with an inflatable mat (IBO) it is possible to perform this work ergonomically with 2 nurses less.
This product came about through Ergotrics' collaboration with the design and engineering firm Voxdale and Coatex (part of the Sioen Industries group) in Poperinge. The patented inflatable mat is washable and reusable. Production takes place in various stages, respecting the current safety measures with regard to social distancing.
Dirk Scharpé, sales manager at Coatex (Sioen Industries): "The inflatable cushion was initially intended to bring patients into the prone position in an efficient way for back surgery. We are delighted that it now also offers a solution for patients affected by the Covid-19 virus. »