In the wake of Covid-19 there are an enormous variety of problems to be dealt with and lessons to be learned. However, as the government discovered in early March as we hurtled headlong into the peak of the crisis, the shortage of PPE was one pressing issue that could not be postponed.

With France burning a stockpile of 1.6 billion masks before the pandemic hit and America recently reporting a new surge in demand for PPE equipment in Covid-19 hotspots such as Texas and Florida, the shortage of PPE continues to be an urgent international issue.

What is the situation in the UK?

The dire shortage of PPE dominated the headlines back in March and April, with the government declaring success with its efforts to satisfy demand on June 25th when it announced that 2 billion items of PPE had been delivered to NHS and social care settings. In addition, the government has ordered almost 28 billion items of PPE to ensure a plentiful supply into the short-term future.

The health secretary Matt Hancock said, “Coronavirus has placed unprecedented global demands on PPE supply chains. To tackle this we set a national challenge calling on companies to channel their manufacturing power into manufacturing much-needed PPE.”

Rising to the challenge

Interflex was just one of the many companies that responded to the PPE shortage emergency by diversifying into PPE production. “The temporary halting of the automotive industry provided the opportunity for us to diversify into PPE,” explains Interflex MD Jim Griffin. “We already had the space, machinery and skill set to manufacture PPE, so although entering a completely new market is always going to be a challenge, especially in the demanding and unexpected circumstances of a global pandemic, we were well set up adapt to the new demand.”

Due to red tape, initially Interflex was only able to provide PPE to Ireland, but following a feature on BBC national news where Jim Griffin highlighted the company’s capacity to produce much-needed PPE for the UK, the company was inundated with enquiries.


A collective effort

Interflex is just one of many companies who have diversified into PPE production. Not only does taking this new direction play a vital role in helping the NHS and social care settings cope with Covid-19, it safeguards the future of these SMEs who have been able to bring staff back from furlough and make money when their usual revenue streams have faltered significantly.

The future of PPE manufacturing

As lockdown eases, the demand for effective PPE has expanded to the retail, hospitality, leisure and hair and beauty sector as businesses begin to reopen in ways that keep their staff and customers safe.

As such, the demand for items such as face visors, masks, gloves and Perspex screening will be high for the foreseeable future. And as much as government and medical professionals hope that there will be no significant second wave, it is essential that hospitals and care homes are well stocked in order to avoid a repetition of the woeful shortage that in particular, contributed to the rapid spread of Covid-19 in care homes.

Indeed, even if a vaccine is eventually found and Covid-19 is eradicated, governments across the world will need to be prepared should another pandemic strike.

Due to this, the manufacture of PPE will be an important long-term component of many businesses who have recently diversified rather than a stop gap solution in a crisis. Certainly, Interflex will continue to manufacture face shields, disposable masks, ear protectors and face visors.

Innovating to meet demand

Interflex has manufactured acoustic, NVH and sealing solutions for tier 1 automotive suppliers since 2003. Since April 2020, the company has dedicated part of its factory to the manufacture of PPE equipment.

For more information, please contact us on or 01949  861494.