An automotive engineering firm in Coventry will more than double its workforce if its design to manufacture face masks for frontline NHS staff is given the go ahead.
MarchantCain, based at Banner Park in Wickmans Drive, has submitted its plans to the official testers, the British Standards Institution (BSI), in Milton Keynes to ensure its Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) meets stringent standards.
The company, which currently employs 22 staff, is still working on automotive business for its clients around the world but was contacted by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub to see if it could answer the Government’s plea to manufacture PPE.
The designers at MarchantCain developed a face mask and have produced 3D printed jigs and fixtures to help assemble between 10,000 and 80,000 masks a week.
Pamela Cain, a director at MarchantCain, said up to 34 people will be recruited to work on two shifts if they are given the green light.
“We wanted to make a face mask that was washable and comfortable after seeing the pictures of staff with bruised faces and the amount of PPE that is being thrown away,” she said.
“Through our contacts we have spoken to a protective respiratory equipment consultant who agreed to look at our design.
“He said of the 100 possible designs he has looked at, he believes ours is one of the very few which will go through testing successfully.
“The testing is rigorous because a poorly designed mask could asphyxiate the wearer by carbon dioxide poisoning. Obtaining the correct breathing options within the mask as well as providing protection from Covid-19 has been quite a long process.
“We have had to find suppliers for the filter material which is similar to that you find in vacuum cleaners because it provides the right level of protection against aerosol virus particles such as Covid-19.
“We have put together a design that meets strict healthcare standards and it is being fast-tracked through the BSI so we’re hoping to hear within the next week or so.
“As soon as we get the go ahead, we will take on up to 34 people to fulfil the interest we have already had.
“As part of the production line set-up, we have also ordered 16 thermal printers so that we can label each item so that it is traceable and which can be washed in bleach solution to combat the Coronavirus.
“It has been a complicated process but we are nearly there. We have already designed safe working conditions with social distancing on the production line.”
Justine Chadwick, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said it was great to see highly-skilled businesses such as MarchantCain diversifying in these difficult times.
“MarchantCain is renowned for its design, prototype and manufacturing skills in the automotive sector and this has shown their adaptability to help resolve the nationwide shortage of PPE,” she said.
“The staff have worked really hard to ensure the design of the face masks will protect people helping patients with Coronavirus while they are working as well as being comfortable to be worn for hours at a time.
“The response from businesses throughout Coventry and Warwickshire to the Government’s request for help has been tremendous and if MarchantCain can proceed then it is positive that it will also create extra jobs in our area.”