Display company producing thousands of COVID-19 visors

Face visors to protect NHS and other healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak are being made by a Norfolk business after it received support from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

Panel Graphic’s screen displays can be found everywhere – from McLaren racing cars and Bentleys to marine aviation and home audio equipment. 

But 100,000 life-saving face shields have flown off the production line at Panel Graphic in Loddon after it was one of more than 70 companies to respond to an urgent appeal for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline and secondary health services.

Staff and volunteers have been producing 8,000 face shields a day for hospital workers, ambulance crews and care home staff, and that is about to be increased to 15,000 a day.

A contingency grant of £100,000 was agreed by the LEP to ensure current production is maintained and the business will be able to continue trading post Covid-19. The funding will be drawn down only if Panel Graphic is left with unfinished stock or unsold materials.

Steve Earl, managing director, said his family-run business had always been a solutions provider and he was immensely proud of how his staff and volunteers had risen to the challenge.

“The order went from 20,000 to 120,000 in two days. That meant the purchase of materials had to be escalated to £300,000, so I needed a contingency in place.

“Yesterday we supplied 10,000 individual shields straight to frontline medical professionals and to around 50 independent places: funeral homes, medical centres and some to the NHS. Next week we want to double that production.”

Chris Starkie, chief executive of the LEP, described the initiative as “an immediate and significant response to the Coronavirus pandemic”, which would help support and maintain sustainable delivery in the healthcare materials supply chain.

“This project means the 41 staff will continue to be paid by the company, rather than being furloughed, and vital PPE for frontline and ancillary workers will be delivered at cost price,” he said. 

“It will also ensure the stabilisation of the company pending recovery to normal production once lockdown has ended and regular manufacturing starts again.”

If you or your business can manufacture or supply PPE, please complete the form available at https://newanglia.co.uk/data-capture-for-ppe-supply-during-covid/

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