The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways. Businesses from all industries have been forced to adapt in a myriad of ways, and the manufacturing industry is no different. Amid of all this change, we have been heartened and proud to see PPMA member companies stepping up to help the NHS.

PPMA Machinery members help the pandemic with engineering skills

From supporting customers by fixing or commissioning machinery remotely with artificial intelligence (AI) to switching production lines to make much-needed ventilators, PPE and hand sanitiser, the membership has been proactive in using their skills and equipment to aid the country in this difficult time. Others have donated cash or products to healthcare providers that can be used to assist in tackling the crisis.

Optima has demonstrated its commitment to the cause by undertaking its most complex task in the company’s history. It has implemented 11 cameras to track the acceptance of a filling system for cosmetics.

Minebea Intec has continued to offer round-the-clock on-site support service by setting up a video camera in its showroom.

PFM has amassed large quantities of stock and ramped up turnaround times for new machinery orders, spare parts and servicing.

Jenton International was quick to respond to the call for the manufacture of ventilators for the NHS.

Stober, in collaboration with FF Maschinen GmbH, has supplied its synchronous servo motor combined with a drive controller for the production of mobile ventilators.

Yaskawa Motoman has supplied its robotic welding system to increase production of products for the NHS.

Hazel 4D is working with fashion brand, Burberry, to deliver PPE to the NHS, alongside delivering vital products to the food and healthcare sectors.

Millitec Food Systems has switched production to the supply of PPE, developing face visors.

Sidel has transformed its development centre into a production unit for bottles of hydro-alcoholic gel.

Adelphi Manufacturing has helped animal feeds company Connolly’s Red Mills, to switch to the production of hand sanitisers by providing a second benchtop filler machine. The Response ATEX filler machine is being used to fill 250ml, 500ml and 5l containers of hand sanitiser, and once the crisis has abated, the machine will be used to fill the company’s other liquid-based products.

Smart Remote Technology

During imposed travel restrictions, Uhlmann used its digital expertise to allow a complete blister line to be accepted in China. A combination of local engineer teamwork and digital skills allowed complex equipment to be installed in China, using the Uhlmann Service Portal to allow Germany-based specialists to access the operating system remotely. Smart glasses were also used as part of the setup process, highlighting the value of smart technology as we move into the Industry 4.0 era of manufacturing.

Mask-Making Equipment for PPE

With the continuing need for PPE equipment in the UK, Intamac Packaging Systems, based in Hampshire, has begun importing new mask-making equipment from China.

Designed by Intamac’s Chinese manufacturing partner, the PIS-KZ-N95 and IPS-KZ-1-2 mask-making machines were launched to the UK market in March, just in time to assist businesses looking to help in the fight against COVID-19. The N-95, as the name suggests, is designed to make the N95 surgical respirator face masks used by healthcare professionals, which it can produce at a rate of 2,400 pieces per hour. The KZ-1-2 produces three-ply protective and medical masks, the daily use variety. The machine can run 6,000 pieces per hour.

The Delay on European Union Medical Device Regulations 

The deadline for EU MDR compliance has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The regulations were initially due to come into force on 26 May 2020, but this has now been pushed back to 26 May 2021, giving device manufacturers more time to fulfil their obligations.

The new regulations are due to replace the current Medical Device Directive (93/42/EEC) and Directive on Active Implantable Medical Devices (90/385/EEC). Once the new regulations come into force, failure to comply may mean that devices are withdrawn from sale and manufacturers will no longer be able to supply their products to EU member states.

The purpose of the EU MDR regulations is to ensure that all relevant devices can be accurately tracked and recorded, with product data accessible via a central EU database, EUDAMED (European Database for Medical Devices).