THOUSANDS of valves needed for a Formula 1 team's breathing aids are being produced around-the-clock in a Christchurch factory.

Peter Day Precision Engineering has been asked by Mercedes F1 to create 15,000 of the components for its CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines by the end of the week.

The company’s chairman, Drew Mellor – who is also the leader of BCP Council’s Conservative group, said he was “delighted” they would be able to play a role in making life-saving equipment for the coronavirus fight.

The two organisations have worked together in the past with Peter Day often commissioned to make parts for its cars.

With the racing season suspended, the team, in conjunction with University College London, turned its attentions to creating a CPAP device, a less invasive form of providing oxygen to patients.

Its design was approved by the regulatory body last month and it has now started producing thousands for the NHS.

Production on the valves, a key component of the device, started on Tuesday and staff at Peter Day have been asked to cover shifts day and night to have 15,000 pieces ready by the weekend.

“It’s nice to be responding to the recognition the business has had and to be getting to work on something which will save lives,” Mr Mellor said.

“We haven’t had a night shift for a long time and we don’t often work weekends and now we’re going to be working 24/7 for the week and to be fair the staff have been brilliant about it.

“Machining is our business so we can make things. We want to be involved and it’s really pleasing that we’ve been asked to do this.”

Mr Mellor is the chairman of Peter Day, one of five companies owned through his Venture Precision Engineering Group.

He said some areas of the group had been affected by a fall in orders as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and that many staff had had to be furloughed as a result.

But others have seen a rise in demand, including Nutech Engineering in Poole which has had orders for levelling feet used in mortuaries increase.

Production of the overall CPAP device began on Tuesday with 1,000 being made a day as part of an order of 10,000 from the NHS.