45-year old Hull manufacturing business adapts to meet PPE demand

13th Jul

The £11m-turnover business has been manufacturing woven and non-woven products for the world’s major airlines in high volumes for more than 45 years. It established a sister brand, Orvecare, eight years ago, which offers a niche range of healthcare items, including recyclable patient specific ambulance packs and linens, and the Orvewrap – a passive warming medical device for use in elective surgery.
As soon as Covid-19 became prevalent in the UK at the start of the year, the company rapidly expanded its healthcare production line. Over the past three months Orvecare has manufactured more than 50,000 coverall garments and gowns for front-line healthcare workers in the UK and mainland Europe.
The company is now making a strategic £250,000 investment to custom-build a high-volume production line specifically to produce type IIR surgical face masks. Orvecare will be able to manufacture up to 50 million of the medical-grade masks a year, which will be certified to the EN14683:2019 standard.
Will Meddings, managing director of Orvecare, said: “Having quickly expanded our medical production line in Hull to manufacture PPE garments for the NHS and other front-line workers, we have been inundated with enquiries for type IIR surgical face masks.
“Customers’ supplies of PPE from overseas companies have proven to be unreliable since the onset of Covid-19, both in terms of lead time and quality. We therefore took the strategic decision to bring manufacturing into Hull and are in the process of installing an entirely new production line to enable us to manufacture millions of masks per month.
“Testament must be paid to the whole Orvecare team, who quickly adapted and welcomed new working practices, which have now become ‘the new normal’ to allow us to produce PPE in a safe and responsible environment throughout lockdown. While we all hope that the threat of Covid-19 will disappear, it is likely that the new way of working and going about our daily business is here to stay for the foreseeable future.”
Orvecare introduced Covid-19-safe working practices in March 2020, ensuring staff could work in a socially distant manner and wear PPE where appropriate. Other measures have included adaptations within the factory, which is based on Sutton Fields industrial estate. The installation of perspex work pods, staggered start, finish and break times, hand sanitising stations across the site with washing advice, a one-way system throughout the site, temperature monitoring of all staff and visitors, safety guidance signage updated regularly, and all touch points cleaned frequently have ensured that production can continue responsibly and safely.
Tony Codd, Orvecare’s business development executive, said: “Our longstanding relationships with UK fabric manufacturers that produce technical laminated fabrics – which offer excellent levels of protection – ensured continuity in our supply from Orvecare’s manufacturing plant in Hull.
“We have been able to deliver much-needed lines of PPE week after week, helping to reduce the reliance on imported products. Many customers had previously experienced a range of issues in their supply chains with some imports being redirected to support domestic market requirements and in worst cases substandard products being purchased.
“With Orvecare’s product range in demand, orders for PPE have come from the NHS and emergency services across regions such as Greater London, the West Midlands and most proudly the Humber.”

BusinessWorks Hull and East Yorkshire spring 2021

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