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NEWS | May 8, 2020

One of a kind power supply extends life cycle of portable ventilator

By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pennsylvania -- A new power supply will increase the sustainability of life-saving ventilators used by members of the armed forces.

Rapid response to meet a growing need for the 754M Impact portable ventilator led Tobyhanna Army Depot to partner with U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency’s (USAMMA) Medical Maintenance Division Pa., to develop and produce a compatible power supply to replace damaged ones original to the system.  The original power supply is no longer available.

Tobyhanna personnel collaborated with Army medical maintenance technicians to establish the design requirements for producing the initial prototypes and then sourced the electronic components to build 52 power supplies. The maintenance facility operates as a tenant unit on the post.

“Depot engineers visited the facility to examine a couple samples and in very short order produced what we needed,” said Jack Rosarius, director of USAMMA’s Medical Maintenance Management Directorate (M3D), Fort Detrick, Maryland. “I’ve spoken with the team and they have thoroughly tested these [power supplies] and are very impressed. The quality is impressive as was the turn-around time.”

M3D was able to fulfill critical needs by leveraging the on-site Tobyhanna fabrication, manufacturing and logistics capabilities. Isaac Newman, Medical Maintenance Division supervisor, noted the ventilators have been the Army’s work horse ventilator for years and the power supply cases were becoming cracked from use making the components susceptible to the elements.

USAMMA has three stateside depot-level maintenance facilities, each covering a geographical region. MMOD-Toby handles the East regions, while MMOD-Hill, located at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, covers the Central region. MMOD-Tracy in California takes care of the West.

The new power supply design is slightly smaller than the original and it’s made with commercial off-the-shelf components. Tobyhanna was able to procure the components, fabricate and test the units in less than 11 days.

“Getting the job done in record time was phenomenal,” Newman said. “It’s nice to know we can depend on Tobyhanna to help. The depot has a lot of capability to draw from to accomplish our mission.”

Looking to the future, Rosarius is optimistic that through the capabilities Tobyhanna brings to the table and other partnerships, M3D will be able to rebuild far more ventilators than originally thought possible. The Army has embarked on the lengthy process of replacing the 754M Impact ventilator with a different portable ventilator. By partnering with the depot, medical maintenance should be able to keep the supportability up until the Army inventory can be changed over to the new Hamilton T-1 ventilator.

A three-man team designed and developed the new power supply using Tobyhanna’s state-of-the-art Engineering Analysis and Solutions Lab (EASL) that recently opened for business. Within five days, they were able to build a working prototype, and within two weeks the product was tested and accepted by the customer.

“Being able to use the EASL for this critically important assignment played a significant role in helping Mark Sgobba, Bill Rumble and Jeff Borosky design, develop and test a solution which meets customer requirements,” said Raymond Rowe, chief of the Production Engineering Directorate’s Mission Support Division. “They executed their mission perfectly.”

Among other things, Rumble cut all the holes on the chassis’, drilled parts and attached the power supply. Borosky also soldered all the small connectors. Rumble and Borosky are electronics technicians who work in the Mission Support Division.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase what Tobyhanna can do,” said Borosky. “When the need is there, we get the job done.”

As an added bonus, personnel devised a simpler method to attach the power supply to the ventilator and worked closely with the Fabrication Engineering Branch to ensure

manufacturability, according to Electronics Engineer Mark Sgobba. It took depot personnel less than three days to fabricate over 150 stainless steel brackets; a process that included creating the 3D model, parts programming, overnight delivery of raw materials and machining time.

“One of the problems with the ventilator’s original design is it’s difficult to attach the power supply to the ventilator while it’s in the carrying case,” said Sgobba. “Bill came up with the idea to incorporate two brackets into the design. One for direct connection to the ventilator and one for use with the carrying case.” Sgobba also works in the Mission Support Division.

“I’m really proud that we were able to support such an important project given the circumstances,” said Matt Rhoades, chief of the Production Engineering Directorate’s Test, Engineering Branch. “We have a great team in place and they went above and beyond to come up with the design and deliver the power supplies quickly.”