On both sides of the Atlantic, and around the globe, members of the nonwovens and textile industries make many of the products that are vital to response efforts during this pandemic. Face masks, most notably, are in short supply and vital to keeping germs and bacteria at bay, and the suppliers are responding to this shortage by ramping up supply and converting existing assets to make materials for meltblown.
Even companies outside the nonwovens spectrum are responding to the crisis. LVMH announced this week that it was sourcing as many as four million face masks from China to aid in France’s recovery efforts. The maker of perfume and other luxury goods has also converted some of its operations to making hand sanitizer, another item in short supply during the time of Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, within nonwovens companies involved in meltblown, the primary material used in N95 masks, as well as mask and respirator companies are working hard to meet the overwhelming demand for these materials. 3M has announced it has doubled its global output of N95 respirators to a rate more than 1.1 billion per year. In the U.S., more than 90% are now designated for healthcare workers with the remaining deployed to other industries also critical in this pandemic, including energy, food and pharmaceutical companies. 3M also manufactures respirators in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
On the supply side, meltblown makers are debottlenecking lines and planning investments to better respond to the “new normal” that this pandemic has created. Machinery supplier Reicofil says it has shortened the lead times of its meltblown lines to just over three months ensuring that companies can better respond to challenges and new meltblown investments have been announced in many regions.
It is too soon to know what the long-lasting effects of the Coronavirus will be on our industry or on our lives, but the role that nonwovens continues to play in improving the health, hygiene and safety of human lives cannot be ignored. Like INDA notes in its letter to the U.S. government, not allowing (nonwovens) workers to complete these manufacturing tasks would cause major disruptions in the availability of these goods leading to hardships to healthcare providers and consumers.
Editors note:Nonwovens Industry is interested in how your company is responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Shoot us an email at email@example.com to let us know how you’re doing.