Australian packaging manufacturer Detmold will make 20 million masks a month and 145 million total to assist with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Like many businesses around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has hit manufacturing hard. But companies like Adelaide's Detmold Group are fighting back by pivoting their business and trying to make the most out of an incredibly difficult economic and medical crisis caused by COVID-19.
The family-owned South Australian manufacturer make paper and cardboard packaging and carry bags for quick service restaurants and fast food chains, as well as grocery and retail packaging.
If you've ever had a takeaway coffee at your local cafe, bought a packet of flour at the supermarket, or taken home a newly purchased clothing item in a bag, you've probably used their products. Chances are your pantry is full of Detmold-made items right now.
But when the impact of the coronavirus pandemic hit the Australian economy, Detmold was not immune.
"We've been challenged as a business," Tom Lunn, Detmold Group General Manager for Innovation, told 9News.com.au.
"We do a lot with restaurants, cafes and retail, and those industries are absolutely hurting."
A few weeks ago though, a lifeline emerged amid the emerging global disaster. Detmold struck up a deal with the federal and South Australian governments to shift its manufacturing business to producing vital medical protective gear - masks.
They are now set to deliver 20 million masks each month, producing a total of 145 million for the nation, with 45 million for South Australia alone. And the deal will also lead to 160 new jobs.
"Equipment will start arriving in April, and we'll be in production by May, and by June we'll be up to 20 million masks a month," Lunn said.
"The challenge was sourcing equipment from overseas and sourcing material.
"We were able to find equipment, supplies and raw material from a number of countries very quickly so that satisfied us that we thought we'd be able to do it successfully.
"We were also really keen to do it because it's the right thing to do.
"It's a risk for our business but we thought it was something we could do."
The "risk" for manufacturers like Detmold comes from producing something completely out of their usual expertise.
With assistance from the federal and state health departments though, they're confident they can deliver the L3 surgical masks and P2 respirator masks to the required Australian standard and get them out to where they're needed across the country as soon as possible.
"Anyone from Detmold will tell you they're very proud to be doing something to help the medical industry and help those people who really need to be protected," Lunn said.
"We're proud to be a part of it and also very pleased to be able to offer jobs at such a difficult time."
Lunn said there could be a long-term silver lining from the coronavirus pandemic for Australian manufacturing too, with the COVID-19 crisis highlighting the importance of having established local businesses in the industry.
"We certainly believe that for critical supplies you have to have a local manufacturing base," he said.
"You have to be able to respond and to be able to support our frontline medical staff.
"Definitely the industry and government have recognised [how valuable local manufacturing is] and that's why they've started this project.
"It's something none of us expected so I think it will bring a different lens to people with sourcing and managing risk in their supply chains."
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-australian-packaging-manufacturer-hurt-by-pandemic-economic-impact-pivots-to-make-145-million-masks/04019733-9afb-4028-abcc-055f0cc7b634