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Business & Economy

North East Automotive Alliance members help in battle against COVID-19

Members of the North East Automotive Alliance are supporting the fight against COVID-19 by helping to get medical and personal protective equipment to NHS and care workers.

More than 20 companies have already demonstrated their agility and innovation – with more set to follow.

Examples of firms pivoting to support the coronavirus effort include Nissan, which has set up a processing line to pack up to 100,000 face visors a week and provided funds for an injection moulding tool to increase the number of parts produced.

Elsewhere, the Sunderland City Council-owned CESAM building, set up to provide manufacturing innovation support and the development of future vehicles technologies, has been transformed into a 460-bed Nightingale hospital.

And, from next week, Kasai UK, which supplies interior trim products to vehicle makers across the UK, will be using its experienced seamstresses to produce face masks for all frontline services.

Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automotive Alliance, said: “Members have answered the call of the Government to come to the assistance of the NHS and care workers during this time of national emergency.

“We are very proud of the lightning-quick response from those who have mobilised at great speed and in some cases, in collaboration with other companies, to ensure a range of vitally needed medical and personal protective equipment.”

Peter Watson, deputy managing director at Kasai UK, added: “We have a team of talented and experienced seamstresses who are used to producing high-quality interior trim products for the automotive sector.

“We will be using our skills to help protect the remarkable individuals at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19”.

In addition, Gateshead-based Aspire Technology Solutions is involved in NHS Hero Support, a volunteer group that is getting more personal protective equipment to frontline NHS workers.

Factory equipment supplier Orgatex has developed visual management, including footprints and clear view floor frames to identify social distancing, while TR Fastenings is supplying components to build ventilators.

Flowstore, a lean manufacturing solution provider, has joined the Ventilator Challenge UK and is developing NHS production and assembly lines to make the apparatus.

Meanwhile, AMAP, which is part of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Sunderland, is supplying door handle adaptations and face mask production.

Additionally, Nice Network is supporting a healthcare app to help vulnerable self-isolators receive crucial support, and NBT Group is supporting NHS supply chains.

Recovery4Life is the only company in the North East offering a test that identifies the COVID-19 variant strain and differentiates nine other non-lethal viruses with the same symptoms.

The profits from the sale of its testing kits have gone towards a 20/20 scheme to fund coronavirus test kits and personal protective equipment for essential workers.

John Devitt, chief executive, said: “The 20/20 fund has raised almost £8000 to support services for vulnerable people.

“To date, we have bought and distributed more than 1000 bottles of hand sanitiser and facemasks and donated cash to foodbanks in the region.”

*Pictured are Tony Pendlebury, clinical director; John Devitt, chief executive; and Alex Devitt, chief operations officer, of Recovery4Life*