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Meet the Cardiff businesses switching production to keep workers safe

Local business, including a gin distillery and a company producing branded promotional materials have been helping Cardiff Council’s response to COVID-19 by switching their production streams at short notice to produce hand sanitiser and other personal protective equipment.

Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Russell Goodway: “Having a flexible local economy that has been able to respond rapidly to the changing demands brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19 has been incredibly helpful for us as a local authority as we respond to the virus.”

South Wales’ first full scale gin distillery, Hensol Castle Distillery are usually in the business of high quality gins and spirits in the unique location of a grade 1 listed castle in the Vale of Glamorgan, but now they’ve taken orders from Cardiff Council for enough hand sanitiser to last almost a month. The team at the Hensol distillery have been working 16 hour shifts and produced 90,000 litres of hand sanitiser in their second week of production.

Credit: Hensol Castle Distillery

Stephen Leeke, managing director of the Vale Resort and chairman of Hensol Castle Distillery, said: “We’re delighted to be able to assist the national effort to deal with Coronavirus. Hensol Castle Distillery is currently flat out producing hand sanitiser and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board is transforming the Welsh rugby team’s indoor-training facility at The Vale Resort into a field hospital. I’d particularly like to pay tribute to our staff across the resort who have been extremely understanding and flexible in difficult times. For instance, we currently have a number of our events team working double shifts in the distillery. They’ve been fantastic and all deserve a huge amount of credit.”

Manufacturing face visors is a far cry from printing custom branded promotional materials like ring binders, signs, labels and exhibition displays but Ferndale based business Screentec went from business as usual to producing a prototype mask and making deliveries of the finished product within two weeks.

Tom Dean, Managing Director at Screentec, said: “After the initial shock from COVID-19, the team at Screentec realised we had all the skills we needed to help our healthcare heroes. So, we got our heads together and, within 3 hours, designed a prototype Face Guard to meet the standards required.

“Our sister company, Riskmonitor Ltd, kindly donated their offices as production space, and within few days, we were ordering material, training staff and scheduling production. We’re now producing 1000 units per day and will double that by next week. I’m incredibly proud of how our team have come together at this time of need.”

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Partner companies under the Resource Group umbrella have also been doing their bit. Inspired by a local resident, Ashley Jay, who had been making face shields on his 3D printers at home and giving them away free to the NHS and local care homes, the Chairman of Resource, Nick Williams, assembled a team to manufacture a high quality single-use face shield for the healthcare sector and others working on the front line in the community.

In just a few days, the team turned an existing staff gym facility at Wentloog Corporate Park into a 3D print farm, with 50 3D printers brought from Amazon overnight and have since produced thousands of face shields.

Nick Williams, said”Our motivation has simply been to help save lives during this horrendous pandemic. We have huge experience in manufacturing and a long track record of running successful businesses in Cardiff and beyond, so if we can help save just one life in our community, that would be wonderful.”

Cardiff based manufacturers BCB International have been trading for 160 years, producing life-saving equipment for the military and police, but have moved quickly to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 and are now supplying Cardiff Council’s key workers with hand sanitiser, gloves, alcohol wipes and more.

Managing Director of BCB International, Andrew Howell, said: “COVID-19 is an on-going battle for our City, the UK, and our world. We at BCB International are doing all we can to win it by supporting our courageous and hard-working first responders and health professionals. We have taken on additional staff and are committed to supporting our workforce through these challenging time. Together, for the greater good.”

Cllr Goodway added: “Cardiff’s economy has been going from strength to strength but clearly the ongoing situation is going to have implications for many businesses – buying local is one way we can play a role in supporting the economy at this difficult time.”

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