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 Student Spotlight continued
service and technical support, and worked with Auburn throughout the project to help ensure success on the automation and controls side of
the application.
With a project lifecycle which included quality control, prototyping, planning, and development, the team created a system ready for use in the emergency room.
The operation of RE-INVENT is designed to be easily understood by medical staff familiar with CPAP machines and ventilators (Figure 4). The technician begins by turning on the CPAP and configuring all initial settings on the CPAP machine itself. On the separate box containing the added components, the technician enters the I/E ratio and breaths per minute rates on the touchscreen HMI. The system will alert medical personnel via an on-screen alarm in the event of high or low differential pressure between inspiration and expiration phases as sensed by the 4-20mA, 0-20” H2O pressure transmitter.
Figure 4: The RE-INVENT ventilator is designed for easy operation and config- uration by medical staff.
What Lies Ahead
After rigorous testing and measurement with
a simulated lung apparatus, it was time for the RE-INVENT’s first real-life trial. The engineering team partnered with Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine to test the machine on a 200lb, anesthetized male Boer goat. With the CPAP set to a pressure of 20cm H2O, the test team varied the I/E ratio, breaths per minute, and oxygen supply levels. Veterinarians monitored the goat’s arterial blood
gases, which remained within normal reference ranges throughout the test. At the test’s conclusion, the goat regained consciousness as expected and was verified to be healthy and fit.
At the time of writing, there is still some testing
to be done in order to more accurately capture the maximum and minimum pressures during operation, which is a difficult task considering the low pressures and high breaths per minute rates. In the meantime, Auburn University has assembled 12 RE-INVENT machines, and IS4S has built an additional 89.
The flagship machine will remain in the lab at the engineering college for further testing and software refinement—code updates are easily applied to field units as the PLC control logic is improved.
Auburn University estimates that hundreds, and perhaps a few thousand, of these devices can
be assembled without a large strain on supply chains, although it would not be possible to obtain components for tens of thousands. Finding parts
is not without its challenges, as it is difficult to find sufficient oxygen-rated valves in a short time-span. It is important to note, however, that production of RE-INVENT avoids interrupting the supply chains
of classic ventilator components. In the meantime, hospitals have requested deliveries of the machine. Auburn University and IS4S are seeking appropriate approvals for deployment.
Ready to Answer the Call
Tough times put people to the test. The team at Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of
Engineering rapidly responded to the pandemic situation, putting their skills into action to help address a global need (Figure 5). Though the time
to develop RE-INVENT was short, the undertaking demonstrates how resourcefulness and the use of commercially available components can play a key role in product development to successfully address a need.
For such a critical project—patient’s lives depend on this machine—the importance of specifying robust, reliable components cannot be understated. AutomationDirect helped the team supply large quantities of reliable automation components in
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          Student Spotlight | Issue 44
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