LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus information for UK manufacturers

This page will provide constant updates on news that affects manufacturers. Please check back regularly as we will be updating it regularly over the coming days and weeks.

This page is for news updates – to make contact with manufacturers who are pitching in to help meet the medical demands posed by Covid-19, please visit the Coronavirus 2020 page of The Manufacturer Community website.

24 March A factory in 10 days!

INEOS, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, has announced plans to produce 1 million hand sanitisers a month to help with the European shortage.

The company is reportedly the leading European producer of the two key raw materials needed for hospital-grade sanitisers – isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol – from its two sites Grangemouth, Scotland and in northern Germany.

The company has stated that it is “already running these plants flat out” and that it has been diverting more of this product to essential medical use. It now plans to build two new factories to make hand sanitiser from them – the first in the UK (near Middlesbrough) and subsequently replicated in Germany.

The company expects to concentrate on meeting the needs of front line medical and care services as well as making ‘pocket bottle’ hand sanitisers for personal use for people across the UK and Europe.

24 March Dyson preparing to make c 5000 ventilators

From ITV News

“Dyson, the vacuum cleaner and hand drier manufacturer, have confirmed to ITV News their plan to help with the coronavirus outbreak by developing a ventilator for the NHS.

The plan which is already “scaling up” will follow regulated medical device development which it’s understood is likely to include testing prototypes on pigs lungs and using components from their vacuums.

The company, owned by billionaire Sir James Dyson, say they have “responded to the Government’s request for support with its Covid-19 response, by focusing resources into the design and manufacture of a ventilator for the NHS”.
A senior source within the company told us that they are hoping to make circa 5,000 ventilators at their Hullavington plant in Wiltshire. The source says they hope to set up a production line and use parts shipped from overseas.

The company say the project is being “undertaken in an extremely challenging time frame. We have deployed expertise in air movement, motors, power systems, manufacturing and supply chain and are working with medical technology and development company, TTP – The Technology Partnership, based in Cambridge.

“Together we have been working around the clock and through the past two weekends to develop a meaningful and timely response. We are conducting a full regulated medical device development, including testing in the laboratory and in humans, and we are scaling up for volume.”

23 March Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Suspend Production & Group PSA Closes Plants in Europe

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars announced today that production at the company’s Goodwood-based manufacturing plant will be suspended from Monday 23 March for two weeks.

Group PSA also announced that it is to close its plants in Europe in response to Covid19

22 March Government Specification for ventilators to be used in UK hospitals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

For more on this see the official government website here

The guidance sets out the clinical requirements based on the consensus of what is ‘minimally acceptable’ performance in the opinion of the anaesthesia and intensive care medicine professionals and medical device regulators.

21 March Smiths Group allows others manufacturers to use ventilator model

From Smiths Group Website

  • Smiths Group (“Smiths”) significantly ramping up production of its PARAPAC Plus ventilators, manufactured in its Smiths Medical facility in Luton, UK
  • Smiths is at the centre of a UK Consortium working to deliver the UK Government target of 30,000 ventilators by making available the Smiths PARAPAC Plus device
  • Smiths in dialogue with contract manufacturers to further add production capacity in the US and other countries to meet global demand

Smiths, the global technology company, (LSE: SMIN.L) announces that its Smiths Medical division is ramping up production of its PARAPAC Plus ventilator at its Luton site to meet increased demand from the UK and across Europe. Smiths Medical is working with its supply chain to increase weekly production over the next 2 weeks. Smiths is in dialogue with contract manufacturers in the US to increase its production levels of ventilators, to support the fight against the global shortage.

The impact of Covid-19 has created a worldwide shortage for ventilators, and Smiths is helping the UK Government deliver its ambitious plan of 5,000 additional ventilators within two weeks, with the intention to scale availability to 30,000 over the coming months. In addition to increasing its own production, Smiths will play a central role in the Industrial Consortium being formed by the UK Government. Smiths will provide IP and technical advice, and make available its PARAPAC Plus ventilator to the Consortium, in order to create additional UK sites and supply chains to deliver the objective.

In addition to providing ventilator units, Smiths is also increasing the production of specialist ventilator hoses through its Flex-Tek division in South Carolina, US for a number of ventilator manufacturers across the world.

Andrew Reynolds Smith, CEO of Smiths, said:

“During this time of national and global crisis it is our duty to assist in the efforts being made to tackle this devastating pandemic and I have been inspired by the hard work undertaken by our employees to achieve this aim. We are doing everything possible to substantially increase production of our ventilators at our Luton site and worldwide. Alongside this we are at the centre of the UK consortium working to set up further sites to materially increase the numbers available to the NHS and to other countries impacted by this crisis.”

About PARAPAC Plus

Designed and manufactured in the UK, the Smiths Medical PARAPAC Plus provides the versatility to deliver mechanical ventilation, demand and free flow oxygen therapy all from one compact, lightweight unit. It’s been designed to be rugged, simple to use and doesn’t rely on an external electric supply – and so well suited to the needs of healthcare systems around the world.

20 March Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme launched by government

From the BBC Website:

The government is to pay 80% of wages for employees not working, up to £2,500 a month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says.

The “unprecedented” measures are part of government plans to protect people’s jobs, he says.

Many firms have been warning of collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is largely put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He added that the closure of pubs and restaurants would have a “significant impact” on businesses.

The Chancellor made an appeal to employers to stand by their workers during the coronavirus crisis.

“Let me speak directly to businesses: I know it’s incredibly difficult out there – we in government are doing everything we can to support you,” he said.

“The government is doing its best to stand behind you and I’m asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers.”


20 March UK pallet networks join forces to offer government a unique supply chain service for critical supplies

The UK’s eight pallet networks have joined together, says the Association of Pallet Networks (APN), to offer their services for the movement of emergency supplies for critical services.

The UK’s pallet networks are uniquely placed to ensure timely and reliable supply of emergency goods to anywhere in the UK. Between them they have 30,000 employees, 750 depots, a fleet of 23,500 vehicles and offer 100% coverage by postcode.

For more on this story and to connect with other manufacturers in these unprecedented times please join The Manufacturer Community here

20 March MP advises businesses to wait for Chancellor’s announcement before making staffing decisions

20 March Government publishes list of key workers

The government have published a list of key workers. You can find more on this link here

19 March Bank of England cuts interest rates to historic low of 0.1%

At its special meeting on 19 March, the MPC judged that a further package of measures was warranted to meet its statutory objectives.  It therefore voted unanimously to increase the Bank of England’s holdings of UK government bonds and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds by £200 billion to a total of £645 billion, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves, and to reduce Bank Rate by 15 basis points to 0.1%.  The Committee also voted unanimously that the Bank of England should enlarge the TFSME scheme, financed by the issuance of central bank reserves.

18 March Manufacturers working around the clock to provide essential medical equipment to UK’s healthcare system

A consortium of leading manufacturing firms are moving at exceptional pace to build a ventilator prototype. Tens of thousands of ventilators are needed by the UK’s healthcare system to help combat the rise of vulnerable people contracting Covid-19 / Coronavirus within the coming weeks.

Aerospace, automotive and other specialist manufacturers, including; Meggitt, Airbus, GKN, Thales, Renishaw, McLaren and Nissan are working around the clock to produce a ventilator prototype within the next week.

Under the leadership of Dick Elsy, Chief Executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the consortia are bringing different skill sets in producing a prototype that can be scaled up to the thousands within the next few weeks.

Dick Elsy, who was due to retire in August 2020 (HVMC CEO, Dick Elsy on creating largest manufacturing research body in Europe), has announced that he will defer his retirement to lead the national response to the virus, saying “Coronavirus presents immense challenges for the UK’s manufacturers. In the short term they will be called on to step up to supply the nation’s needs at an extraordinary moment in our history.  Looking further ahead, they will need to be strong to weather the shock that the virus has given our economy.  I want to play my full part in mobilising the outstanding resources of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult to underpin their success until the situation stabilises and I can hand over to a successor.”

Whilst this urgent initiative is underway medical equipment and ventilator manufacturers, including Penlon and Breas Medical Ltd are doing what they can to provide both ventilators and alternative medical devices to the NHS.

Companies with capabilities who think they can re-purpose production are asked to complete the template on line

Get in touch via The Manufacturer Community if you want share useful advice to help other manufacturers through these extraordinary times

17 March UK manufacturers continue to rise to the ventilator challenge posed by government to deal with Covid-19 patients.

The MAN group, made up of nine sub-contracting manufacturers and a design agency, all in the Midlands, have pitched in to aid the effort.

From their website:

“We are in a position to immediately offer our range of skills in assembly, casting, forging, CNC machined parts, pressings, electronics, tube manipulation and injection moulding in a coordinated way that could lead towards securing additional capacity or help in creating another supply chain.

There are some practical things that we will need, such as the expertise of the ventilator manufacturers and a bill of materials and then it will be a case of looking at innovative ways where we can support production as quickly as possible.

We spent all yesterday talking to medical device experts and some ventilator manufacturers and believe the best way UK industry can support them is to provide a skilled workforce with expertise to increase manufacturing capacity for electromechanical sub-assemblies and key elements, such as pumps, pneumatics and vacuums.

The MAN Group believe this is the easiest way to scale up and meet demand allowing the OEMs of ventilators to focus on the core task in hand, thus eliminating IP and potential approval processes applicable to medical devices.”

17 March The government is now seeking assistance with the 3D printing of parts for ventilators. The place to register your capability is the same one you’d use to register any capability in the manufacture of ventilators.

17 March As the government prepares to unveil new business support measures, the insurance industry has some chilling news for companies at risk from closure or business interruption.

This from The Guardian:

The Association of British Insurers issued a stark warning that “business interruption cover” bought by most firms will not pay out for Coronavirus-caused stoppages.

It said: “Irrespective of whether or not the government orders closure of a business, the vast majority of firms won’t have purchased cover that will enable them to claim on their insurance to compensate for their business being closed by the Coronavirus.

“Standard business interruption cover – the type the majority of businesses purchase – does not include forced closure by authorities as it is intended to respond to physical damage at the property which results in the business being unable to continue to trade.”

It is understood that fewer than 10% of businesses – possibly only about 2% – will have any form of extension to their business cover for closure caused by infectious diseases.

The lack of insurance payouts will leave many businesses in a desperate financial situation.

 Get in touch via The Manufacturer Community if you as a manufacturer have any issues or advice around insurance you want to share. 

17 March The government’s initial effort to recruit manufacturers to the cause of making ventilators led to jammed phonelines at BEIS and delays in responding to emails. Their next step looks really positive:

As this snapshot from the BEIS website demonstrates (and it is only one small snapshot) they are now pre-qualifying offers of help from manufacturers in a way that will certainly streamline the effort.

Ventilator appeal clip from BEIS website
Ventilator appeal clip from BEIS website