The Coronavirus is bringing major disruption across the globe with people’s lives affected in many different ways. This new highly contagious virus, and the fact there are no known treatments yet, also brings uncertainty for businesses both here in the UK and internationally.
Government guidelines state that businesses should ensure their employees work from home wherever possible and this we are doing. Many companies, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, have been forced or otherwise decided to shut down completely for the foreseeable future.
But what about manufacturers? KnitMesh Technologies not only remains open but is busier than ever.
Lew Bingham, Managing Director, explains why:
Q: Why are you still open when other organisations have shut up shop?
A: For good reason, the manufacturing sector is excluded from the UK
Government’s closure strategy that is designed to delay the spread of the
virus. We simply have to remain operational in order to keep the supply chain
open in support of our customers. Many are major OEMs, or Tier-1 suppliers, in the critical medical, food supply, transportation,
oil & gas, petro/chemical and power generation industries both here in the
UK and internationally.
Q: How do your products help those critical sectors in their fight against COVID19?
A: Our products are used in a wide range of industry sectors and typical applications include mesh products used in life-sustaining medical devices; filters and cleaning products used in the food (including takeaway), distribution and pest control sectors; a multitude of products used in the automotive, rail and aerospace sectors; specialist mesh components for use in the production of chlorine and other chemicals; bespoke mesh for use in the refining and chemical process industries; and products used in the power generation sector. All are seen as being vital in supporting the Government’s efforts to safeguard the nation’s health and in maintaining the UK’s logistical framework, vital infrastructure and economy. Many of our clients have to continue to operate and they need us now more than ever. We’ve all seen the news about innovative UK manufacturers responding to the Government’s call to help fight Covid-19. Some are converting some of their capacity to making ventilators, masks and other Personal Protective Equipment for use in hospitals and some of our own distillery customers have swapped whisky and gin production for the high volume manufacture of hand sanitisers.
Q. And what about your employees? What measures have you taken to protect them?
A. We are very proud of our entire workforce and we have of course intensified the general hygiene and sanitising standards across the site. Where practicable, staff are working from home and the skeleton crews in the office operate on a rota basis where possible. These, together with colleagues on the essential production lines, operate strictly in accordance with the Government’s social distancing (2 metre rule) and other relevant health and safety guidelines.
Q. We are only a couple of weeks into this journey but what lessons have you learnt so far?
A. I have spent over 40 years in the manufacturing sector and it’s blindingly obvious that the UK economy, and the manufacturing sector in particular, has become far too reliant on Chinese imports. It has taken this terrible pandemic to really bring this fact to the attention of the wider UK population. Like many other countries, the UK has found itself unprepared and unable to deal with the problem as well as some other countries who will benefit from a much stronger manufacturing base. We have found ourselves short of medical, pharmaceutical and other critical supplies. This has lead to panicking and, as we head towards peak contagion, will lead to a higher mortality rate than might otherwise have been the case. The Government is doing its very best in the circumstances and I am sure that key workers and the Great British public will respond just as well as they have in other times of great adversity. UK manufacturing is amongst the best in the world and I’m convinced something good will result from this really sad situation. I’m very confident that our ability to innovate, combined with the British traits of diligence and dogged determination, will kick-start a resurgence in our manufacturing sector that will see it return to the very top of the world league. Stay safe and keep calm!