Denel is mobilising its resources and expertise towards a priority project for the local design and development of medical ventilators in support of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Danie du Toit, Group Chief Executive of Denel says engineers from Denel Dynamics and Denel Aeronautics are already working round the clock on Project Sabela – ‘we are heeding the call’ – in partnership with other state-owned entities, research bodies and medical technology companies.
“We are still in the early stages of the project, but we are optimistic that this local initiative will help to alleviate the dire need for medical ventilators that are required in great numbers at both public and private hospitals,” says Du Toit. The defence and technology company is also considering other initiatives in which it can repurpose its current operations and technology to assist the national efforts. This include the production of sanitisers and the conversion of Casspir mine-protected vehicles into ambulances.
“We are proud to respond immediately and positively to a request from the Department of Public Enterprises to drive the ventilator project. As a state-owned company we are committed to utilising our skills, technology and experience in support of the national objectives to combat the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic at our doorstep”. A task team has been formed consisting of experts from Denel, Armscor, Eskom, the CSIR and other entities to investigate designs and produce a prototype of a local medical ventilator.
Denel Dynamics is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of sophisticated missile and precision-guided weapon systems and also pioneered research and design for the production of unmanned aerial vehicle systems. Denel Aeronautics is the original equipment manufacturer of the Rooivalk combat support helicopter and design authority of the Oryx medium transport helicopter.
Du Toit says Denel employs some of South Africa’s top engineers, researchers and scientists who have worked on sophisticated technology projects in the past. This accumulated knowledge and expertise will now be mobilised to work closely with medical scientists to produce life-saving ventilators.
Globally the defence industry has been a catalyst for the development of products that have brought immense benefits to the broader society. Innovations that have been derived from Denel’s defence research are vastly used in areas such as border security, agriculture, mining, construction and civilian aerospace within the country.
“Through Project Sabela we are now focusing all our efforts on the current medical and humanitarian crisis facing South Africa and the world,” says Du Toit. “We are confident that we will soon make huge strides in the development of locally-designed ventilators at a time when global shortages are experienced.”
Denel PMP, Africa’s leading manufacturer of small- and medium-calibre ammunition is looking at options to produce sanitisers for industrial and medical usesonce the product certification issues have been clarified. Many of the chemicals used in the manufacturing of explosives can also be utilised to make sanitisers.
The Casspir, is a highly mobile and versatile vehicle used extensively in conflict zones in demining and protection operations. Denel Land Systems are looking at options to convert Casspirs into field ambulances, says Du Toit.