Australian manufacturers fight against COVID-19

By Rob Stummer, CEO, SYSPRO APAC
The spread of COVID-19 around the world has produced a multitude of challenges, not least an urgent need for medical equipment supplies and staff. In A...

The spread of COVID-19 around the world has produced a multitude of challenges, not least an urgent need for medical equipment supplies and staff.  

In Australia and around the world, a shortage of items like ventilators and hand sanitisers has caused concern over how hospitals will be able to deal with the rapid influx of serious coronavirus cases. 

An increasingly desperate situation is demanding desperate measures. Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has urged Australian manufacturers to make a wartime shift to their production from non-essential items that are not in short supply, to help the national fight against COVID-19 by producing more essential items that are urgently needed. Encouragingly steps are already being taken by manufacturing businesses big and small here and overseas to offer their support in the war against COVID-19.

Factories switching to hand sanitiser

Following the lead of the French conglomerate LVMH that runs luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior, having turned its perfume factories into hand sanitiser plants, many Australian firms have followed by switching their production lines.

One of Australia's biggest packaging companies, Pact Group, is converting production lines at three of its Sydney plants as it starts making hand sanitiser for the first time, instead of industrial cleaners. The company expects to be at full production by mid-April and will be making about two million units of hand sanitiser per month of which it anticipates that about 95 per cent of the new product will be sold in Australia. The sanitiser gel will be made using ingredients sourced locally and from China and will be packaged into 500ml, one-litre, two-litre bottles and 50ml tubes, all manufactured by Pact.


Legendary cricketer, Shane Warne’s SevenZeroEight gin distillery in Western Australia, which he co-founded with two prominent WA surgical specialists, has halted production on its award-winning gin to switch to producing medical grade 70% alcohol hand sanitiser. An agreement has already been made to supply to two nominated Western Australia hospitals at cost, until further notice.

Hand sanitiser orders from overseas are exploding for an Adelaide based manufacturer that mainly sold hair and beauty products prior to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the threat of the virus emptied supermarket shelves of hand sanitiser around the world, Artav Australia has converted one of its production lines in its factory usually used for hair and beauty products to its Dispel hand sanitising gel. It has also added another production shift for manufacturing and new staff members have swelled numbers at the factory to 60.

Boosting the supply of ventilators

HP and Smile Direct Club are working on 3D printing of parts like ventilator valves and breathing filters. HP will make its proprietary design files for these parts available, so they can be produced anywhere in the world and is also helping customers bridge potential supply chain interruptions by expanding distributed print-on-demand capabilities to anyone that needs it. Dyson has designed and built an entirely new ventilator, the CoVent in just ten days and has now received an order from the UK government for 10,000, which is starting production in April.

For more information on business topics in APAC, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief APAC

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