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Hardshell prepares to open £1.5m UK manufacturing facility
A £1.5m investment by Hardshell is set to see a medical-grade mask making facility established in Wales, creating more than 40 jobs and boosting business opportunities in the region.
Over the last four months, Hardshell, a specialist in the production of protective defensive equipment such as body armour and demining suits, has set up the 1,500 sqm facility in Cardiff, which will be dedicated to manufacturing a full range of PPE, covering everything from single-use surgical masks to reusable face masks, including Type IIR, FFP2 and FFP3 respirators. It will be capable of producing 300,000 respirators and 1.5 million masks a week.
Life Sciences Hub Wales has supported Hardshell with the securing of product certifications that will allow it to manufacture FFP3 type respirators, which are currently imported rather than produced on home soil.
With a minimum 99% filtration efficiency, FFP3 face masks offer the highest level of protection against toxic particles including asbestos, bacteria and viruses, making them the most effective in protecting against Covid-19.
Following an industry call to action issued by Life Sciences Hub Wales, Hardshell decided to diversify its manufacturing capabilities and create personal protective equipment (PPE) to help with the response to Covid-19.
Life Sciences Hub Wales has been appointed by Welsh Government to manage all initial enquiries and offers of support from businesses on behalf of NHS Wales. The organisation has worked closely with Hardshell to offer guidance on the certification process and to help the company ensure its masks meet regulations.
Hardshell has purchased its own line of machinery to be able to complete the full manufacturing process on site. The firm is also in talks with UK-based manufacturers to provide the facility with raw materials in the long term – a move that will enable it to speed up production of the masks, while helping to support other British businesses.
Anil Kant, chief executive officer at Hardshell said: “As a defensive equipment manufacturer, we specialise in making protective equipment and body armour that saves lives in areas of combat. We wanted to build upon this legacy and help protect those people working on the new frontline in the fight against Covid-19.
“Due to the global pandemic, PPE has been in high demand, with many countries understandably taking control of their own domestic supplies, leaving a shortage of products for the UK. We wanted to do something about this and chose to invest in our business to produce masks and respirators in-house here in the UK, using materials all manufactured in the UK.”
Anil continued: “Welsh Government’s support and guidance has been invaluable in helping us to navigate the logistics and necessary approvals to set up the facility here in Cardiff. As the capital of Wales and with its proximity to ports, being based in Cardiff allows us to procure raw materials with ease and dispatch our products more quickly. This means we can significantly speed up our processes and manufacture masks at a much earlier stage – something that is essential during a pandemic when time is of the essence.”
Production of the face masks and respirators will begin in August, following the completion of stringent tests and final certification of the product. The company plans to primarily supply products to the NHS and is currently in the application process with the government. It will also supply a range of masks to businesses and retailers.
Cari-Anne Quinn, chief executive officer, Life Sciences Hub Wales, added: “Hardshell’s commitment to developing a Welsh manufacturing base to tackle the nation-wide shortage of masks and respirators is testament to the company’s impressive innovation and capabilities.
“These products will go a long way towards helping key workers on the frontline, providing a reliable, quick and continuous resource of much needed protective equipment.”