Manufacturer pivots to produce half a million face masks a week
An automotive parts manufacturer in Nottinghamshire has installed new equipment which enables it to produce half a million face masks every week as part the company’s expansion into the PPE market.
Interflex is known in the automotive industry for making a range of NVH and sealing solutions for vehicles from door seals to under carpet to reduce the impact of air, water, dust and noise. Working mainly with OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, the firm also coats and cuts materials such as the fabric used for arm rests.
However, with automotive production still recovering from the measures imposed to manage Covid-19, the company has now diversified into other areas that complement their staff skills base and production facilities.
The purchase and installation of specialised machinery in September has enabled Interflex to manufacture three-ply surgical style face masks, types 2 and 2R. The disposable masks conform to European standards and offer 98% bacterial filtration with a 40-hour wear time.
Jim Griffin, managing director of Interflex explains that the process of switching parts of the factory to PPE production required additional training, but that it was relatively straightforward to set up a new production line.
“Although we have a well-established staff who are experienced in manufacturing insulation parts, they have had instruction in using the new equipment to ensure safe and efficient operation,” he said. “The machine was bought from China and modified to ensure that the masks meet regulatory requirements as well as the demanding quality standards that we have in the UK.”
Griffin added that the expansion into PPE production was a natural fit for the business. He said: “The selection of materials has been key to ensure that we have a high quality, traceable product, so we have sourced all our materials from the EU. However, as a British manufacturer we aim to source all the materials in the UK over the next few months to ensure a reliable domestic supply chain using British materials, with British assembly to meet UK standards.”
The company has also invested in a new packaging machine and a revamped production area which enables the segregation of mask production from the rest of the factory to ensure a clean manufacturing environment, from production through to sealed packaging.
With the facility to supply printed three-ply masks, Interflex is also looking at producing a seasonal range of disposable masks for Christmas, as well as fashion prints and bespoke corporate branding including logos and sports team colours. Products are sold under the Pinnacle brand which was created especially for the production and distribution of PPE.
Griffin says thatall staff are back from furlough and at site in Langar, production of both automotive components and PPE is in full swing.
He said: “The diversification into PPE has supplemented our work in the automotive sector and production is currently split 50/50. With the new machine enhancing production capacity, we anticipate this to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Interflex was founded in 2003 and is based in Langar in Nottinghamshire. The company currently employs 45 staff.