Creating an Oxygen Monitoring Device in Record Time

In March 2020 the team at Oxford Optronix, a global pioneer in the design, development and manufacture of sophisticated instrumentation for life sciences were faced with a challenge. At the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic they were asked to join a high-tech consortium to supply continuous Positive Airway Pressure (cPAP) oxygen monitoring medical devices to the National Health Service.

Monitoring Oxygen

Desperately needed for Covid patients with breathing difficulties, an oxygen monitoring device continuously monitors the concentration of oxygen delivered to the patient, providing alarms should the oxygen levels deviate from prescribed limits.

Dr Andy Obeid, CEO of Oxford Optronix said – ‘On 21st March, I received an urgent call from Professor Mervyn Singer of University College London Hospital explaining to me the vital importance of cPAP in supporting COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties, especially in those cases where conventional ventilation isn’t justified or potentially injurious to the patient. Minutes later, I was being quizzed on how to design, develop and manufacture a monitor to continuously measure the concentration of oxygen being delivered to the patient via cPAP. I soon realised that Mervyn was rather politely asking me to do something in five days that would normally take two years!’

Time was of the essence just how do you design and build a brand-new medical device from scratch in just five days?

optronix flo-ox oxygen monitor2 Years Work in 5 Days

It was decided that a Touchscreen Display interface was need to display the patients current oxygen levels and allow medical staff to set the upper and lower limits. Typically this would involve sourcing hardware and writing code to drive and generate the display whilst integrating it with the oxygen sensor and other electronics. Each of these stages could potentially take months to complete.

As luck would have it Oxford Optronix was already familiar with Lascar’s PanelPilotACE, a unique integrated touchscreen which had the built-in processing power needed for the oxygen monitor. More importantly, Lascar’s free-to –download Design Studio software meant no one had to design any code. Design Studio has a built-in library of ready-made graphical and functional elements you can drag and drop and easily combine with system inputs and outputs.

The basic interface for the oxygen monitor was ready in just a few hours, with no electronic integration required the 4 to 20 mA output from the oxygen sensor could be plugged straight into the PanelPilotACE.

Stephen Douglas, Technical Director at Oxford Optronix said – ‘I knew we needed something that would enable us to design and build a touchscreen interface with process control in under a week. PanelPilotACE was that product.’

Technical Expertise

Lascar was more than happy to provide technical support to the development team and working collaboratively the first prototype oxygen monitoring devices, called Flo-Ox, were being tested only a week after the initial phone call. Other parts of the cPAP device were being manufactured by the Mercedes Formula 1 team and combined with the technical and medical expertise at University College London (UCL) the system was quickly approved for patient use.

oxygen monitoring devices fully assembled

Working frantically around the clock and mobilising every individual in the company Oxford Optronix were able to manufacture and deliver 2,000 Flo-Ox monitors to the NHS in just 8 days, an amazing achievement!

At Kempston Controls, we were amazed at the rapid results achieved by Oxford Optronix and the other members of the high-tech consortium whose creation helps to save people’s lives, well done to you all! The Lascar PanelPilotACE range has proven itself in numerous applications around the world, and this latest triumph only goes to show how versatile this product range can be. As supplier partners for Lascar we can help you find the perfect products for your specific installation, give us a call on +44 (0) 1933 411411 or email to discuss your requirements.

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