SouthMED LTD Suzy Ventilation hood

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Richard Aimers, Andrew Wallace, William Early
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Directors
    Matthew Leaper, Mark Seaton, Craig Carr
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Chris Hopkins, Barbra Webster
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Bill Clarke, Edwin Nieman, Keir Russel, Jason Hollis, Alex Ramsay, Tom Thomson, Brian Walker, Rob Saxton

This device was developed as a gift for the hospitals and people of New Zealand during the extreme social and emotional upheaval New Zealanders experienced as the country went into Level 4 lockdown in March 2020.

The team that created this device was formed within 48 hours of lockdown having never worked with each other before. They formed a close knit group that to date has worked often 7 days a week and over 4,500 unpaid hours so New Zealand had a way to manage a potential Covid-19 outbreak. The device enables medical staff to isolate the virus at the source patient, ensuring the safety of all health workers and other patients across our health sector. Working on this project united the team as a family with true manaakitanga.

Unlike commercial enterprises, this project was agreed upon and established as a humanitarian, social good activity. The team are all professionals in their own fields and had goodwill across their various industry sectors which allowed the collaboration and trading of good will, not contracts and fees, to lead discussions and also outcomes.

With no funding support from the New Zealand government they created a solution that met the most pressing health crises New Zealand has faced in many years. Their hard work was supported by an exceptional NZ philanthropist who has underwritten the costs to produce the devices to date. His generosity has extended to Nepal and Fiji June and July 2021 delivering 120 additional devices to support efforts in these regions also.

Not only was the device supplied free of charge, it is also superior to other systems for the treatment of Covid19 as it requires only 15% of the oxygen of other systems and has superior air management and ergonomic allowance for patient care than any other hood on the market today.

Health worker protocols, equipment standards, ergonomics, materials and manufacturing protocols required for this device led to all components, jigs and fixtures, checking procedures and assembly processes requiring concurrent design, prototyping and testing by the team.

Working on such a critical project with an immediate and unknown deadline was taxing across the several weeks of lockdown and more so for the many months following as the team continue to support each other with ongoing design, communication, documentation and production tasks.

Some of the initial calibration and testing for airflow pressures and spring rates were carried out using the teams own vehicles driven at known speeds. This data through reverse engineering allowed for accurate calibration and the next task to be started. Samples and testing included creating parts from wetsuits through to tent fabrication techniques for heat sealing to allow the design, testing and production to move forward quickly.

The final production included some parts that were created in only 24 hours from when they were first drawn to being an off tool sample. Other parts have had multiple iterations and weeks of material and process investigation to meet the extreme conditions this device must perform under.