Playing our part in producing PPE - how we've created five million pieces of PPE for the NHS and UK businesses

Like many organisations in March 2020, Duraweld was faced with a challenge, unlike anything we’d ever done before. 

As the first wave of the Covid-19 continued to grip the country, we were called into action to help protect NHS staff on the frontline of dealing with the pandemic. As businesses began to shut down and millions across the UK started working from home, our business made a vital pivot, moving away from our core product range. 

In a matter of weeks, we’d produced tens of thousands of vitally important face shields, to be used as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the NHS - something we’d never done before. The success of our first phase of production and supply meant we were awarded a government contract to manufacture more than five million face visors, across a six month period. 

In doing so, we were able to secure the jobs of 60 of our people and play our part in a national effort, unlike anything ever seen during peacetime in the UK.

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In late March 2020, we were approached by key decision makers from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust about the possibility of us making face shields that could be used as PPE for frontline staff. Due to our close working relationship with the Trust and because we wanted to play our part in helping fight the virus, we used our production teams’ decades of experience to create three possible visor designs in just a matter of days.

Working closely with members of the clinical teams across the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, we were able to identify the safest and most appropriate designs for staff to be worn on the wards. Within hours of feedback on the three designs, we’d secured materials and began producing face shields with the stock already available to us. Just days later, we’d created 600 visors, ready for use. 

Adapt, change, deliver

In a whirlwind fortnight and through a monumental effort from our dedicated team, we supplied the Trust with 75,000 face shields. Because of our preexisting close working relationship with those key decision makers at the Trust, we were able to further adapt the face shields twice more from the original designs, based on feedback from staff on the ground. 

Because of our collaborative way of working across our teams and with our clients, those changes were able to happen flexibly and efficiently, whilst still producing the highest quality face shields that could be used as PPE, without compromising on safety. 

Five million visors and counting!

The success of the quick supply of the PPE visors that were being delivered to the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust meant other Trusts were taking notice. This soon led to talks about supplying the products to the NHS on a national level. 

Over the following months to meet government contract approvals, the visors went through a rigorous testing process. This involved the design and materials being tested to ensure it delivered on its requirements and achieving CE certification (EU 2016/425). As part of this process, an extensive risk assessment was carried out to ensure the safety of the manufacturing team, including the renting of an additional unit to facilitate this.

To date, Duraweld has supplied more than five million visors to the NHS and to hundreds of businesses to be used as PPE across the UK.

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