Worldwide, every industry seems impacted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing businesses small and large come to a halt in order to comply with government requests to reduce the size of groups that can gather. While the manufacturing industry is not immune to these changes, it must continue in order to keep society fed, medicated, clothed, and somewhat in order.
The plastics industry is vital in producing so many different categories of products that are essential globally. Who knows where would we be without medical-grade plastic, food packaging materials, and components for building materials for infrastructure. How has the plastic community reacted, and who is still producing plastic in these trying days?
The British Plastics Federation (BPF) released a survey about the effects of coronavirus on the UK plastics industry that indicates that the majority of plastic producers expected to be adversely impacted in the coming months. Some of this concern stems from the upstream supply chain. Many companies are stockpiling materials to negate immediate impact on production, though not all. The Director General of the BPF commented, “This survey demonstrates that the plastics industry is a crucial, strategic industry playing a pivotal role in national security and in ensuring we as a country can effectively fight the coronavirus.”
Plastics Industry Association Chief Economist Perc Pineda announced that, “the demand for plastics and plastics products in household essentials, healthcare, and medical goods and supplies space is not expected to decrease dramatically. The retail distribution for these types of products through online delivery can be expected to increase.” He did also note that although the supply chain has not been noticeably affected, as time passes and materials slow from coming in from China, manufacturers may consider alternative sources.
The Department of Homeland Security in the United States issued guidance on the manufacturing sector, stating that “workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains.” The National Association of Manufacturers has called on the government of the United States to clearly define essential manufacturing services during this time of COVID-19. They have created a survey to highlight to the government the resources supplied by manufacturers that may be overlooked as non-essential, but do affect critical medical services such as batteries and cables.
One manufacturing hero has come to light in recent days: SenecorpWhite from Cape Cod. They have modified the design for one of their machines that commonly produces plastic packaging to convert it into making much-needed N95 masks. They have supplied one of these converted machines to-date, with a second following not too far behind. These machines are said to be able to produce 300 N95 masks per minute. This is a truly positive example of manufacturers working together to find innovative solutions. As we all take our own measures, and follow the direction of officials, let us also remember the importance of the manufacturing community and the impact they have on our every day lives.
At the Omachron® group of companies we have been working tirelessly to contribute to the solution and positive evolution of this pandemic. Our years of experience in the plastic industry, creation of other medical supplies, and understanding of filtration products has led us to our newest venture; the Omachron® Protective Mask. We have developed prototypes and expect to be in production in the coming days. For more information on the mask and its availability, please visit us at www.omachron.com, and subscribe for the latest updates on approval status and purchasing availability. We have been watching in awe as companies across a wide variety of industries quickly convert to making medical equipment such as masks while also researching viable options for the manufacturing these in a more efficient way going forward, for the public and private sectors alike. We feel our contribution will not only positively effect the resolution of this pandemic, but also help limit and/or prevent outbreaks in the future.