Sunderland business steps in to ease the UK’s PPE shortage

A Sunderland business is helping the UK’s fight to equip frontline workers with personal protection equipment.

Three of the UK’s leading print companies, including Precision Printing which has a branch at the BIC in Sunderland, have joined forces and are using their specialist machinery to manufacture much-needed PPE.

Precision Printing, which also has a base in London, Nottingham’s Prime Group and Proco Print at Sheffield are now creating upwards of 10,000 PPE visors a day.

They have also shared their designs with companies in 18 other countries where PPE is also in short supply.

The decision by the bespoke print companies to adapt their normal production was led by Prime Group managing director Jon Tolley whose wife is a frontline NHS worker.

He said: “My wife had a shift last week and rang me in the afternoon, deeply concerned as they were running desperately low on PPE, for treating suspected or positive Covid-19 patients.

“She asked me if we could do anything as we use similar materials and the team and I very swiftly worked out that our skills for creating new products quickly, could potentially translate well here.”

The team used an existing visor and reverse engineered it to create their own version, with the prototype tested by clinicians before being given the seal of approval.

Now all three companies are mass producing the visors, which are being delivered to NHS staff across the UK.

Louise Stephenson, Managing Director for Precision Print in the north, said the company jumped at the opportunity to be part of this vital project.

“The fact that the machinery we use has the capability to create the visors means we can hopefully do something really positive to support our NHS staff during these worrying times,” she said.

Precision Printing, which was set up in 1966, employs 200 staff. Past clients have included Durham University, Emirates Durham International Cricket Club, Sunderland football club, Bandai Namco Group, NHS, Subway and Sega.

It supplies products in areas including digital printing and print enhancement.

Jon Bailey, of Sheffield’s Proco Print said: “Keeping our frontline staff protected is one of the most important priorities at present so naturally we jumped at the opportunity to play our part.”

A GoFundMe page has also been launched with a target of £20,000 – with almost £14,000 already raised – to help with the logistics, stocking, purchasing and further trialling of the visors.

Orders for the full face visors can be placed on the Where The Trade Buys website, here . The artwork template can also be downloaded. There’s a 50% discount available for the NHS.

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