WPAC – Wheelchair Provision and Assembly Center
Wheelchair users need chairs that fit and work well where they live. A local organization operating with a sustainable business mindset creates not only a local supply of good chairs but a place for good provision, user and provider training, repair and, follow-up services, and disability community development. Because a WPAC is rooted in the local community and is a sustainable social business, it is set to provide a world-class level of support to wheelchair riders.
- Does your organization have a proven record of service to people with disabilities?
- Is committed to excellent wheelchair provision?
- Is capable of running a sustainable business?
If you answered “yes” to these three questions then you might be interested in establishing a Wheelchair Provision and Assembly Center (WPAC). Some WPAC applicants will qualify for USAID assistance to off-set the start-up costs including the purchase of the first container of RoughRider wheelchair parts, training in WHO wheelchair service standards, and consulting services in provision and business management. WPAC partner organizations are responsible for assuming remaining costs of the business including salaries, benefits and rent. Please note that the USAID funding mentioned in the video is no longer available.
WPAC Selection criteria
A qualified WPAC business or organization will have:
- A business plan that shows an ability to achieve success in wheelchair provision, marketing, management, and technical processes
- A vision and strategy to build a sustainable network of partner organizations which are trained to meet World Health Organization Guidelines On Wheelchair Provision (Please see Sections 3 & 4 in particular)
- An initial demand of at least 800 wheelchairs per year and have the marketing capacity to increase demand in the future
- A capability to import wheelchair parts and have a track record of managing projects with earned income from sales
- A track record of managing projects with earned income from sales of products
- And experience using quality control methods is preferred.
Whirlwind Quality Assurance Program
Quality of design and manufacturing are extremely important to wheelchair users. A wheelchair breakdown is a serious problem that can leave its rider stranded far from home or unable to return to work or school until the chair is repaired. Not only do most wheelchair riders not have the money to buy their chairs, but the can not even afford to pay for repairs. To achieve our goal of full inclusion and social participation for wheelchair riders, we are very careful to make certain that the chairs are free of manufacturing defects which would interrupt or cut short the benefit of the wheelchair for the user.
Whirlwind’s quality assurance program has three check levels. Check Level A is done on every chair. It includes tests like roll testing for distance and straightness, checking the function of each feature like the wheel locks and the foot rests for the ability to hold full body weight, checking that bolts arer tightened to spec, checking for sharp edges, and checking for the tension of the spokes. Chairs must pass these tests and failures indicate to manufacturers that deeper problems exist which are then resolved. Check Level B is a batch test done on one of 100 chairs or one per batch for smaller batches. After assembly all the important angels and lengths are measured like seat angle, back angle, seat height, distance between wheels, toe in/out, caster barrel angle, etc. Then a chair is torn down into pieces and each component is measure to ensure it is within specifications. This is a very close inspection that looks at everything from the quality of the upholstery stitching to the spacing between welds.
Manufacturers submit their quality reports to Whirlwind with each order so that they can receive support from the Whirlwind technical team as needed. Whirlwind also uses various methods of gathering samples from manufacturers so that we can double check that reports are consistent with our observations of randomly chosen units.
Check Level C is done at Whirlwind HQ. This test is verification that the design the factory is building matches our intended design. In manufacturing, there is always an impulse to cut costs by using cheaper materials which will not meet the intended performance requirements. Check Level C includes testing of paint, all materials, and ISO tests like the double drum test to 400,000 revolutions, two times the ISO standard.