UK first as city plant to make top-grade masks

Western Mail - - BUSINESSWA­LES - SION BARRY Busi­ness Ed­i­tor sion.barry@waleson­

THE UK’s first med­i­cal-grade mask-mak­ing fa­cil­ity has been set up in Cardiff in an £1.5m in­vest­ment cre­at­ing more than 40 jobs.

Hard­shell, a global leader in the pro­duc­tion of pro­tec­tive de­fen­sive equip­ment such as body ar­mour and dem­i­ning suits, has se­cured prod­uct cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that will al­low it to be­come the first in the UK to pro­duce med­i­cal-grade face masks for use by the NHS.

The site will be the only fa­cil­ity in Bri­tain to man­u­fac­ture FFP3 type res­pi­ra­tors, which are cur­rently im­ported rather than pro­duced on home soil.

With a min­i­mum 99% fil­tra­tion ef­fi­ciency, FFP3 face masks of­fer the high­est level of pro­tec­tion against toxic par­ti­cles in­clud­ing as­bestos, bac­te­ria and viruses, mak­ing them the most ef­fec­tive in pro­tect­ing against Covid-19 and the most crit­i­cally needed by staff on the front­line.

Hard­shell de­cided to di­ver­sify its man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties and cre­ate per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) to help with the re­sponse to COVID-19 fol­low­ing an in­dus­try call to ac­tion is­sued by Life Sci­ences Hub Wales.

The hub has been ap­pointed by Welsh Govern­ment to man­age all ini­tial in­quiries and of­fers of sup­port from busi­nesses on be­half of NHS Wales.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has worked closely with Hard­shell to of­fer guid­ance on the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process and to help the com­pany en­sure its masks meet reg­u­la­tions.

Over the last four months, Hard­shell, with sup­port from Welsh Govern­ment, has been set­ting up the 15,000 sq ft fa­cil­ity, which will be ded­i­cated to man­u­fac­tur­ing a full range of PPE, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from sin­gle-use sur­gi­cal masks to re­us­able face masks.

It will be ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing 300,000 res­pi­ra­tors and 1.5 mil­lion masks a week.

The com­pany has pur­chased its own line of ma­chin­ery to be able to com­plete the full man­u­fac­tur­ing process on site.

Hard­shell is also in talks with UK-based man­u­fac­tur­ers to pro­vide the fa­cil­ity with raw ma­te­ri­als in the long term – a move that will en­able it to speed up pro­duc­tion of the masks, while help­ing to sup­port other Bri­tish busi­nesses.

Anil Kant, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hard­shell, said: “As a de­fen­sive equip­ment man­u­fac­turer, we spe­cialise in mak­ing pro­tec­tive equip­ment and body ar­mour that saves lives in ar­eas of com­bat.

“We wanted to build upon this legacy and help pro­tect those peo­ple work­ing on the new front­line in the fight against Covid-19.

“Due to the global pan­demic, PPE has been in high de­mand, with many coun­tries un­der­stand­ably tak­ing con­trol of their own do­mes­tic sup­plies, leav­ing a short­age of prod­ucts for the UK.

“We wanted to do some­thing about this and chose to in­vest in our busi­ness to pro­duce masks and res­pi­ra­tors in-house here in the UK, us­ing ma­te­ri­als all man­u­fac­tured in the UK.

“Welsh Govern­ment’s sup­port and guid­ance has been in­valu­able in help­ing us to nav­i­gate the lo­gis­tics and nec­es­sary ap­provals to set up the fa­cil­ity here in Cardiff.

“As the cap­i­tal of Wales and with its prox­im­ity to ports, be­ing based in Cardiff al­lows us to pro­cure raw ma­te­ri­als with ease and dis­patch our prod­ucts more quickly.

“This means we can sig­nif­i­cantly speed up our pro­cesses and man­u­fac­ture masks at a much ear­lier stage – some­thing that is es­sen­tial dur­ing a pan­demic when time is of the essence.”

Pro­duc­tion of the face masks and res­pi­ra­tors will be­gin this month, fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of strin­gent tests and fi­nal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the prod­uct.

The com­pany plans to pri­mar­ily sup­ply the prod­ucts to the NHS and is cur­rently in the ap­pli­ca­tion process with govern­ment.

It will also sup­ply a range of masks to busi­nesses and re­tail­ers to help pro­tect em­ploy­ees by pre­vent­ing the po­ten­tial spread of COVID-19.

Cari-Anne Quinn, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Life Sci­ences Hub Wales, said: “Hard­shell’s com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing a Welsh man­u­fac­tur­ing base to tackle the na­tion-wide short­age of masks and res­pi­ra­tors is tes­ta­ment to the com­pany’s im­pres­sive in­no­va­tion and ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“These prod­ucts will go a long way to­wards help­ing key work­ers on the front­line, pro­vid­ing a re­li­able, quick and con­tin­u­ous re­source of much-needed pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

“The com­pany’s work is an­other ex­am­ple of the in­cred­i­ble in­no­va­tion, hard work and de­sire to help that we have seen from in­dus­try in Wales.”

> Chief ex­ec­u­tive of Hard­shell Anil Kant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.