Packaging company Huhtamaki has joined forces with Magherafelt-based manufacturer Bloc Blinds to increase production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
Millions of face shields are set to be delivered to the Health & Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI) Business Services Organisation over the next 12 weeks.
Last week Bloc Blinds repurposed its production line to produce 22,000 face shields a day. With Huhtamaki now on board using high-speed packaging lines, an additional 400,000 pieces of equipment will be manufactured daily.
Ciaran Doherty, general manager, Huhtamaki Foodservice UK, explained: "Huhtamaki has partnered with Bloc Blinds, working at incredible speed to scale up manufacturing of their FaceShields in a bid to support frontline workers in acute care settings.
"We have reorganised our factory to produce four million face shields per week and are continuing to invest rapidly to increase this output. With PPE so critical in winning the fight against Covid-19, our agile and innovative use of high-speed packaging lines will massively increase the volume of Bloc FaceShields produced per day. We are fully committed to delivering this high-volume order as quickly as possible."
Huhtamaki has repurposed staff previously occupied in manufacturing food packaging. The factory floor and other operations have been adapted to allow for social distancing measures and all Public Health Agency advice. Huhtamaki hopes to scale up production for the global market at other European sites.
Bloc Blinds managing director Cormac Diamond added: "We started off trying to lend our support in some small way. This partnership with Huhtamaki can help us take it to the next level and ramp up production of Bloc FaceShields, providing this vital PPE to more people. This new venture with Huhtamaki will not only help make this a reality but ensure a robust supply chain is in place."