Transforming Penlon’s operations to support a National emergency

In early 2020, the scale of the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic was becoming clear to the UK government and the nature of the challenges in addressing it. One such challenge was the shortage of equipment, in particular ventilators to provide breathing support to Patients who could not breathe on their own. On 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister issued a challenge to industry to step up production of mechanical ventilators to help meet the expected UK demand.

Deloitte advised a consortium of manufacturers working with Penlon, a specialist medical device company, on rapidly scaling-up ventilator production. A substantive programme was quickly established to:

  • undertake engineering revisions to Penlon’s existing product to meet the COVID-19 emergency ventilator requirements
  • scale-up production from ‘50 per month’ to 11,662 in three months.

To help achieve the ramp-up, Deloitte provided leadership, governance, financial management and control and supply chain advice to the consortium to ensure the programme achieved its objective of saving lives while also spending taxpayers’ money prudently.

Deloitte fielded a diverse and inclusive team, ensuring Penlon benefited from insights and support from critical team members onsite, while also respecting the well-being of all team members, including preferences not to travel. A right-person-for-the-role approach ensured a focus on innovation and can-do attitude to solve critical programme issues.

Within four weeks of the challenge being set, the first ventilator unit was produced with production rapidly accelerating from 40 days for the first 1,000 units to three days for last 1,000.

In total, Penlon delivered more than 75% of all the ventilators delivered under the challenge.

At a time of national emergency, the ability to provide distinctive consultancy services across all aspects of a mission-critical programme meant that Deloitte became the business backbone and trusted advisor to Penlon and the consortium and helped ensure the Cabinet Office had the confidence required to support the project.

In addition to providing leadership, governance, financial management and control and supply chain advice to the consortium, the Deloitte team also delivered innovative solutions to a number of challenges encountered throughout the project. Such challenges included the design, implementation, and roll-out of an electronic Device Handling Record system to ensure the required delivery velocity of ventilators was maintained.Throughout the project, the Deloitte team kept Penlon’s longer-term goals front of mind, working with Penlon to ensure the business was left in a transformed and sustainable business state ready to prosper in the future. The manufacturing transformation achieved, along with financial transformation from the ventilator programme over a four-month period has delivered a complete and sustainable business transformation for Penlon.