In which industry is Aircontrols active?
We are a service provider for the development, production and certification of medical technology in the areas of ventilation, respiratory therapy, anaesthesia and gas dosing. We were founded in 2002 as a management buyout from a company where I was the chief financial officer. The field of medical technology did not really fit into the corporate structure, and I was personally very interested in this line of business. I started my own business with the division manager and one other person, and we settled here in Kempen. Fortunately, the customers of that time remained loyal to us.
What innovations does Aircontrols stand for?
It was already shown in spring that Covid19 patients cannot be successfully ventilated with an anaesthesia ventilator, as this prevents the possibility of independent breathing. We have developed a device that supports patients in their natural breathing.
Together with the company SmartCPAP, we won the “Give a Breath” challenge of the Munich Reinsurance Company Munich Re and the Fraunhofer Society with this device. The aim was to develop a non-invasive ventilator for Covid19 patients that can be produced with a 3D printer. In this way, poor countries in particular are to gain access to the necessary medical technology. We are building a production line for prototypes together with Frauenhofer in India. We hope this device can help the people of India quickly.
In which other areas is Aircontrols strong?
We have a strong consulting division. We support smaller companies in the medical technology sector with the introduction of quality management systems and also accompany customers in conformity assessment procedures.
After the scandals surrounding medical technology products such as breast implants, it was decided in Brussels to increase the quality control requirements. The new Medical Device Regulation will apply from next year. Under this new regulation many small and medium-sized companies can no longer afford product approval. For customers who do not have a quality management system of their own, we assess products in our name with our quality management system. We then sell the product back to the customer so that they can bring it to market.
Where do you manufacture your devices?
We develop and manufacture all devices in Germany at our location in Kempen. We also use international purchased parts, but 80% of our parts also come from Germany. We have many customers who specifically ask us only to install parts from Germany. The trend towards “Made in Germany” has intensified as a result of the corona pandemic.
What role does the proximity to the German-Dutch border play for Aircontrol?
We are very internationally oriented so the border does not matter to us. You can find our customers in Germany, Brazil, USA, China, India or Japan. But we have a large development partner near Eindhoven with whom we work together a lot. Since last year we also have an office in the USA, which is to prepare the American market for us.
How does the corona pandemic affect your business?
We have been very lucky that so far everyone has remained healthy and we did not have to close. Especially in the area of production, things have been running at full speed since March.
Unfortunately, we also have customers in the medical technology sector who are in very bad shape. They are active in an area where there are currently no more orders at all. As a result, these companies were unable to place the planned orders with us. But we have also gained new customers, so we were able to compensate for this successfully. The Corona pandemic is a prime example of how entrepreneurs can have the best strategies and plans, but are not immune to the consequences of such an unexpected crisis.
How big is your team and what kind of staff are you looking for?
We are a team of 20 people. We have a small assembly and testing department. Precision mechanics work for us in production. We also employ hardware and software developers, mechanical engineers, biomedical technicians and chemists. People who want to make a career in medical technology are often located near Hamburg or Munich. This is a small disadvantage if we are looking for engineers who are already familiar with the strict quality standards of medical technology.
But we also work regularly with interns. At the moment we have a design student from Fontys in Venlo as an intern here who develops products for us and for our customers.