The supply of medical devices to the NHS is critically important at this difficult time. Several ARBURG customers are involved in supporting the fight against coronavirus on different fronts, as well as supplying other vital items for the health service.
AMS Technical Plastics makes electronic switches and connectors for a global sensor company. Last week, AMS received an order for 1,800 switch units for ventilators for the French government. “We pulled out the stops, did a 24-hour shift and dispatched the order within the given timescale,” said Managing Director Jim Kelly.
Based in Littleborough, Greater Manchester, AMS Technical Plastics is helping a neighbouring company to supply medical containers for hospitals that are running on overdrive due to coronavirus. This company had to furlough some employees in the lockdown, and they now have a spike requirement for the containers, but they can’t break the furlough to increase output. “We stepped in with a 24-hour rush programme to fill in the missing capacity,” said Jim.
Also, the new 4,000 bed Nightingale Hospital in London – which was built and equipped in just nine days – needs a wide range of medical equipment, and AMS is now supplying the hospital with sharps bins for disposing of used needles and blades. AMS also supplies four large dairies, which need both mould tools and moulded parts. Dairies are considered a key industry by the government.
Furthermore, AMS has also received a letter from key customer BAE Systems’ procurement group giving the company critical supplier status to HM Government in this period, ensuring supply BAE’s essential parts are not affected during the lockdown.
To manage the crisis, AMS has realigned its shift patterns, implemented social distancing and correct entry and exit procedures from the building in an effort to keep its employees as safe as possible.
“We put some staff on furlough but now have an extended order book that includes COVID-response related business, so the pipeline is good, and we should be able to bring people off furlough as soon as is practical. We are humbled to be able to support the frontline medical care services and critical supply sectors,” Jim adds.
CellPath Ltd based in Newtown, Mid-Wales manufactures injection moulded parts for the cellular pathology industry, as well as making stains and reagents for use in cancer diagnosis. It formulated and manufactured a hand sanitiser to the World Health Organisation specification for its employees soon after coronavirus broke in the UK. The company is now gearing up for large scale production of the hand wash when it receives regulatory approval.
“This will ramp-up production from 200 litres to 1,000 litres per day, when the approval comes from the Health & Safety Executive,” said Dr Neil Haine, R&D Director at CellPath, but he adds this relies on having access to the right raw materials which are currently in short supply.
CellPath is a long-term ARBURG customer and has a new machine on order now, to supply more moulded parts in a busy sector of medical research. Neil says that while the country is locked on COVID-19, cancer is not going anywhere. “For us, cancer is not taking a back step. We are making the handwash to keep our staff safe in order to keep supplying these critical plastic moulded products.”
For on-site safety measures, the company has set out markers on the factory floor to mark suitable distancing gaps between workers, rejigged production lines to maintain the recommended two-metre distance, and all doors are fixed open to avoid touching them. And it has made novel use of its 3D printer. “Where doors cannot be left open, we have 3D-printed a device to open the door using your arm not the hand,” Neil said.
CellPath is also 3D-printing face shields as part of the organised scheme to supply the NHS with PPE, personal protective equipment.
ARBURG Ltd., a leading provider of injection moulding machines to the UK and Ireland moulding industries, understands that more customers are working on vital plastic components for ventilators and medical equipment, which are awaiting regulatory approval.
Colin Tirel, Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be playing an important part in supporting these and many more customers through this incredibly difficult and challenging time that we find ourselves in. We have a long history in supplying machines and associated technology to the medical sector throughout the UK and Ireland, and this is becoming more high profile as time has gone on.”