Nobody could have predicted what 2020 had in store for us, with Covid-19 creating the largest global pandemic in living memory.
The sudden onset of the virus in so many countries put massive pressure on national health systems in every corner of the world and prompted many Governments to explore new ways of treating huge volumes of patients outside of traditional hospitals.
In England, seven Nightingales were established to create additional capacity in areas that were under significant medical pressures and these impressive facilities were devised and built-in record time.
It quickly became apparent that the one thing Covid-19 patient relied heavily on for their care was oxygen and all these temporary super hospitals needed to create a safe and secure supply to what would surmount to thousands of beds.
All of this was played out against a backdrop of urgent timescales and lead times that had never been previously achieved. People’s lives depended on it and UK industry reacted.
Lawton Tubes’ reputation for supplying medical gas copper pipes saw it quickly approached by the Government, the NHS and healthcare providers to supply products that would safely transport oxygen to people who needed it most.
The family-run engineering company, a copper pipe manufacturer, was open throughout every stage of the pandemic and this meant that it was front and centre of supplying these vital copper pipes to the Nightingale Hospitals and dozens and dozens of other locations across the UK, nursing homes, pop-up clinics and existing hospitals.
With no visibility on volumes and forecasts, the entire manufacturing facility in Coventry had to pivot to focus on orders for the medical sector, delivering its core medical grade copper tube in sizes ranging from 12mm up to 219mm.
Small diameters that would normally be used at the final point for the outlets by patient’s beds were replaced with much larger sizes more suitable for carrying vast amounts of oxygen from plant rooms and offsites stores to theatres and wards.
In addition to the pipes, hundreds of thousands of accessories and fittings were manufactured and supplied. Including medical grade copper endfeed fittings, brass munsen rings / rubber lined pipe supports, silver brazing rods and gas identification tapes, a complete pipeline system all from stock.
Once production was underway, Lawton Tubes had to collaborate with numerous different project leads at the Nightingales to ensure that it fitted seamlessly into the complex logistical plan.
It was all hands to the pump to meet the allocated timeslots, with even members of the Armed Forces unloading the company’s pipes to ensure they got to their destination on time.
Nine months from the first order being placed and Lawton Tubes has successfully delivered 120 miles of medical gas copper pipes to the NHS – if laid end-to-end, this is the same length as Phase 1 of HS2.
All of the 100% recyclable product was delivered on time and to budget, ensuring that vital oxygen supplies were in place in time for the Nightingale openings and to provide additional capacity in other hospitals across the UK.
In total, more than 200 deliveries left the company’s Coventry manufacturing facility carrying tonnes of specialist copper to over 70 different destinations. Work hasn’t stopped there with continual upgrading of medical facilities keeping the team at Lawton in demand.
Our work has stretched the length and breadth of the country, with our medical gas copper pipe being installed in over 50 facilities since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including six of the seven Nightingale Hospitals.
Download the full case study to find out more about how we responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.