A Caerphilly company has switched up production at its factory to create millions of sustainable face shields that will be used worldwide by frontline staff as well to support employees returning to the workplace.
Transcend Packaging, a sustainable packaging specialist and the first company in Europe to produce paper straws for major quick service restaurants, has converted operations at its Ystrad Mynach manufacturing base to create protective face shields. Made from reinforced paper boards and recyclable materials, the inexpensive visors are designed for single use and to be recycled.
With support from Life Sciences Hub Wales, Transcend has been able to ensure their products meet all standards required for use by NHS Wales, frontline and key workers.
Nearly 3 million of the shields have already been manufactured, with the company having received orders from all over the globe. As well as supplying the products to various settings across the UK, Transcend has seen its shields distributed across Europe and is now in talks to supply Japan and the US.
The company’s change in production comes after Transcend took part in a national online event, hosted by Life Sciences Hub Wales in conjunction with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, which explored how to correctly manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to supply NHS Wales, explaining the certification requirements and procurement processes involved.
Wales's response to Covid-19
Life Sciences Hub Wales, which has been appointed by Welsh Government to manage all initial enquiries and offers of support from businesses on behalf of NHS Wales, worked closely with Transcend to help it adapt its production line and become certified to supply category II PPE.
So far, over 1.5 million face shields have entered directly into either NHS Wales or the UK Department of Health and Social Care agencies to support staff on the frontline. The firm is also suppling shields to councils, care homes, retailers and factories across the country.
Due to the recyclable nature of the shields, as well as the relatively low cost and ease to produce them compared to other alternatives, the products could also play a key role in assisting with the return back to work and the ‘new normal’.
As businesses and facilities reopen and lockdown measures are eased, the shields could have a variety of applications including being used by employees in office settings, patients attending doctors’ surgeries, staff in customer facing roles such as banks and retailers, as well as by individuals visiting friends and family, particularly within care homes.
Lorenzo Angelucci, Managing Director at Transcend Packaging said:
“Transcend is a proud part of the Welsh business community and when the Covid-19 outbreak began we saw the critical need for personal protective equipment and wanted to do what we could to help.
“We quickly realised that we could adapt our digital printing equipment to create face shields and with the help and guidance of Life Sciences Hub Wales, we were able perfect the design and produce products that were fully certified and met the right standards.
“When it came to designing the shields, we thought carefully about the needs of today and those of the foreseeable future. Frontline services are of course a priority right now, but in the months to come, once restrictions are lifted and businesses resume their operations, other people will require protection. We wanted to create a product that could be used across the population.
“Our face shields are an effective, inexpensive CE marked alternative to other PPE items and provide an extra level of protection that is suitable for medical settings, employees returning to work and the general public as they go about their daily lives and see loved ones.”
Established two years ago, Transcend specialises in sustainable packaging and is committed to minimising waste and offering a true alternative to single use plastic on a commercial basis. The company’s products, which include paper straws, cartons and cups, can be found within the grocery supply chain as well as in most quick service restaurants across Europe including Starbucks and McDonald’s.
Transcend, which employs just under 200 people, is currently producing hundreds of thousands of the face shields a week but has the capacity to boost this to nearly 2 million if required. While the firm is continuing to manufacture products for the quick service restaurant industry during the crisis – maintaining stringent social distancing and safety procedures - orders within the sector have reduced. Supplementing this activity with the creation of the face shields has ensured that Transcend has been able to retain most of its permanent staff on a full-time basis during this challenging time.
Cari-Anne Quinn, CEO of Life Sciences Hub Wales said:
“Transcend’s quick thinking and innovative approach to developing PPE for the national effort is an example of the fantastic commitment, creativity and hard work that we have here in Wales. As the main point of contact for industry, we have been working with businesses to support NHS Wales in sourcing the vital equipment and resources it needs.
“Our work with NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership has enabled us to secure safe and certified products that will play a vital role in protecting patients and those working on the frontline of our health and social care sectors.”
Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said:
“Transcend Packaging is an important business in Caerphilly county borough and I applaud the way it has changed its way of working to develop a vital product, which is helping to protect many people.
“The company is part of an impressive number of businesses who are standing up and making the equipment we need to help beat coronavirus, and I also thank them for all they are doing in rising to the challenge posed by this pandemic.
“I’d also like to thank Life Sciences Hub Wales for the crucial role they are playing in supporting firms across Wales.
“The important work we, as a Welsh Government, are doing with companies to support our effort around PPE truly shows what is possible with urgency and collaboration.”
Any businesses looking to submit offers of support in the fight against coronavirus should do so via the Life Sciences Hub Wales online portal.