Derbyshire disaster relief charity Aquabox hopes to double its life-saving efforts

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A Derbyshire Dales charity providing safe and clean water for those living in disaster zones due to conflicts or natural disasters is looking to double its life-saving work.

Aquabox builds simple, hand pumped water filters that are then sent to disaster zones where access to clean, safe water may be severely limited or non-existent. The filter turns foul, polluted water into safe, clean drinking water; it removes the bacteria and viruses that cause diseases like cholera, typhoid and polio. It also helps to prevent diarrhoea, one of the biggest killers of small children in the third world.

More than 70 people volunteer their own time to create the devices.

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Each filter can process up to half a million litres of water with the teams currently producing 3,000 filters a year. Recent shipments have gone to Ukraine, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Nepal, Malawi and Turkey – all places where people are living in desperate conditions. However, there is always a need for more filters.

The Aquabox team creating the filters.The Aquabox team creating the filters.
The Aquabox team creating the filters.

Bosses at the international disaster relief charity are in the final stages of an ambitious programme to double its output of life-saving water filters by streamlining the process and have brought in experts to help with improving and delivering it.

Now they are appealing for help with funding the project to help them reach more people and communities. The funding will help support a new assembly line for the project, named Aquaboost, which will increase production to at least 6,000 filters a year.

Aquabox trustee Dominic Wish, who has led the project, said: “We anticipate that the new lines will easily meet our target of 6,000 filters a year, and at full capacity we could double that to 12,000.

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“We have one final request of the East Midlands community, and that is to help us fund the final building of the assembly cells.

“We need £45,000 to complete the project – less if we receive donations of benches, fume extraction, flooring or jigs and fixtures. This relatively small amount of money will ensure that thousands more people will have access to clean water in disaster zones around the world.”

Aquaboost uses Lean manufacturing tools and techniques, and the Aquaboost team has completed a Value Stream Mapping (VSM) process to replace the current single assembly line with two four-station assembly lines.

Mr Wish said: “Throughout the VSM event we also identified a whole list of individual process improvements to improve safety, quality, and process effectiveness.

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“We have been supported by Forged Solutions Darley Dale, Pratt & Whitney’s UK Supplier Improvement Team, and ITP Aero Technology, Hucknall, and we have several other corporate sponsors helping with the design and provision of these process improvements.”

The challenge now is to build the new assembly facility at the Aquabox depot in Wirksworth.

The assembly cells will require new benches, new fume extraction and new flooring, and the project also needs new processing equipment including adhesive applicators, pressure testing equipment, and a range of simple assembly jigs and fixtures.

Aquabox was founded in Wirksworth 31 years ago. Anyone who can help with funding or would like to find out more is urged to email [email protected].