Companies divert resources towards PPE production

Amidst the global shortage and increased demand for PPE, a number of companies have redeployed their resources

manual work station
Sources of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been strained as manufacturers struggle to meet the increased demand from health and social care professionals continuing to operate through the crisis.

Optometrists have raised concerns over difficulties in sourcing this equipment, which is a vital resource in order to be able to carry out emergency appointments. Discussing PPE supplies, 11 optometrists recently told OT that they had sourced their most recent PPE order from donations.

AOP clinical director, Dr Peter Hampson, has previously told OT that “Members are naturally concerned about the supply chain of personal protective equipment, not only for essential care they are providing, but also for emergency and urgent care, as many face a very different working environment for the foreseeable future, even when lockdown measures begin to lift.”

Many manufacturers across the country have diverted production lines to supply PPE, in order to help increase the availability of the vital protective equipment for keyworkers and primary care practitioners.

face shield
Eyewear manufacturer, Charmant, has begun production of face shields for healthcare workers.

Eyewear company, Charmant, has started production of newly-developed face shields in its Japanese factory.

Developed in response to the pandemic, the company will initially be supplying the face shields in Japan, but will look to develop worldwide distribution as production ramps up.

The face shields are set to be available from mid-May 2020 and production capacity will increase to 50,000 pieces at the end of May, 100,000 at the end of June and 200,000-300,000 per month from July onwards.

The company is aiming to supply a total of 1 million units by the end of September and 2 million by the end of December 2020.

“We would like to use our technology, which has been developed through our optical frame and medical devices production, to help as many people who are fighting against coronavirus in the field as possible,” commented the president and CEO of Charmant, Masakiyo Honjo.

Frame designer, manufacturer and distributor, Inspecs, has diverted production in the UK to the supply of safety eyewear. To date, the company estimates it has produced approximately 60,000 units of eyewear and expects to increase this by another 250,000 over the next few months.

GO Eyewear UK, normally a supplier of branded spectacles and sunglasses, with brands including the Ana Hickman range, has also made a supply of face visors available for purchase. From the end of May, the company is also planning to offer N95 masks, UV sanitiser machines and UV sanitiser ‘bars’.

TRB face visors
TRB Lightweight Structures has been producing face visors for healthcare workers. TRB’s Felix Otomewo and Clint Boa Amponsem using the company’s Zund cutting system to produce the first batch of 3000 face visors

Outside of optics, manufacturing and engineering company, TRB Lightweight Structures, has diverted approximately 10% of its resources into producing reusable face visors for healthcare workers.

Normally working on advanced composite components for electric vehicles, the company told OT it has redeployed its personnel and machinery to the production of the visors. Four people working over two shifts have been moved to producing the face visors, using a kit cutter that has also been moved to accommodate the different type of work.

Richard Holland, managing director of TRB, explained: "These face visors can be produced quickly and easily with kit cutting technology, using the same expertise and equipment we would normally apply to making carbon fibre and composite components.”

Now at full production, the company is able to make one visor every 50 seconds.

“As the momentum grows, more local composite companies are getting involved,” Mr Holland added. “These companies, including TRB, have the capacity to produce a combined total of between 10,000 and 15,000 visors a day once funding is secured to purchase sufficient raw materials for high volume manufacturing.”

The company confirmed it will supply the visors to “whoever needs them” and has already provided visors to hospitals and care homes. A spokesperson for the company confirmed to OT: “At the moment we are selling them for £3 each including delivery. However, if we can secure the funding, we will be looking to ‘gift’ these in the fight against COVID-19.”

Those looking to source face visors from TRB should contact [email protected].

UK printing companies, Where The Trade Buys and Prime Group, have teamed up to produce face masks for NHS essential workers.

Where The Trade Buys has committed to making 15,000 units per day, while Prime Group has targeted 10,000 visors daily, aiming for a joint targeted production of more than 500,000 units per month.