Midlands Engine has today begun a series of virtual discussions on ‘Enabling the Midlands PPE Supply Chain’.
Extraordinary efforts have been undertaken throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to meet the unprecedented uplift in demand for PPE. At the height of the Covid-19 surge, an estimated 12.5 million items of PPE were being used weekly in NHS and social care settings in the West Midlands alone; with tens of Midlands businesses involved in the production of PPE during this period.
It has clearly tested national and regional PPE supply chains, highlighting both significant strengths and weaknesses.
The series of three virtual discussions hosted by Midlands Engine will take place over the next week, in partnership with Midlands Innovation Health and the Midlands Health Alliance, focusing on different aspects of the PPE supply chain challenge. A number of the Midlands businesses who have been involved in the production of PPE during the last few months attended the first meeting to provide their insight and perspective on what is needed to meet the challenges of PPE supply chains.
Commenting on the reason for the discussions, Midlands Engine Director, Rachael Greenwood, said:
This series of meetings is an excellent opportunity to ensure that the Midlands is prepared for both the ongoing needs of our population and for the future. It is vital that we come together as a region to reinforce our capabilities, identify gaps and learn from our mistakes.
Also attending and speaking at the first meeting on PPE supply chains was David Archer of the Warwick Manufacturing Alliance, a network of regional bodies and professional engineers who have been working to identify opportunities for critical PPE manufacture.
Setting out the main challenge faced by PPE supply chains, David Archer commented:
Supplying PPE in a crisis has produced a plethora of well-meaning solutions but not many of them provide a supply chain answer that understands rapidly changing needs at point of use and can respond in a timely way with all the steps required, including: product qualification and certification, responsive & responsible manufacture, finance, logistics and reliable delivery to that point of use.