Factories and logistics companies are focusing their efforts on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, by making personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and hand sanitiser to support the NHS.
In this time of crisis, there seem to be shortages of everything we need, so businesses are stepping up to produce the essentials.
Stockpiling changed the production landscape after whispers of quarantine first began. Supermarkets and shops that sell essential items are changing their supply chains to sell more of everything using only a few ranges, rather than stock a variety of brands.
Many UK businesses are changing their processes in order to save the economy, while manufacturers are in demand – especially those able to produce essential equipment.
Who is getting involved?
Household brands are suspending the production of their usual products to create items they’ve never made before. Businesses including JCB, Dyson, Mercedes and McLaren, are helping to make medical ventilators to support NHS demand. McLaren, the parent company of the Formula 1 team, is also producing respirators for NHS staff.
To help ventilator manufacturers, HSBC is offering fast-track loan applications, cheaper interest rates and extended repayment terms.
Engineers at the Royal Mint are focusing on finding a design for medical visors online and adapting it to produce PPE. Their prototype was approved within 48 hours and their design will be released soon to enable other companies to manufacture even more.
Small distilleries have also been aiming their production at making alcohol suitable for effective hand sanitiser. The chemicals firm Ineos, the UK’s largest private company, is racing to build two hand sanitiser factories in 10 days. It hopes the plants – one near Middlesbrough and one in Germany – will dispense one million bottles per month and supply the NHS for free.
Heathrow is boosting its cargo capacity to help in the fight against COVID-19, with airlines are using their idle planes for important tasks like bringing British people stuck abroad home, and importing essential cargo.
Seegene, a South Korean biotech company, has been making coronavirus test kits since COVID-19 first appeared, with every single worker joining the production line. The biotech company produced thousands of kits within weeks using its technology. Testing kits are in high demand, globally, and other countries are ahead of us in testing the population.
What can your company do?
South Korea has been widely praised for its response to the virus – everyone who goes in and out of buildings must wear a mask, must have their temperature checked and must use hand sanitiser before entry. Companies should be taking this advice where possible, as it’s still not possible to test everyone for coronavirus or to keep all key workers home.
Those who work in production and distribution roles are considered key workers. Ensure that your key workers, in factories and in your logistics companies, are protected with their own PPE, or even just by staying as close to government regulations as possible. For example, factories should keep their workers two metres apart where possible and wash their hands more often, for 20 seconds.
Procurement and supply chain management is more critical than ever at this time of crisis and is the key to getting through the current lockdown situation. As the way we all live has changed, so has the demand for everyday items and vital medical supplies – this will likely impact the sector for a long time to come.