To aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Reifenhäuser Reicofil has converted two of its test plants to produce components for an estimated one million face masks.
The lines installed in the nonwovens technology center, which are otherwise exclusively used for research and development as well as customer trials, have been producing meltblown material for the production of urgently needed face masks for one week. This is the company's response to the current emergency in the supply of medical protective material.
Dr. Bernd Kunze, CEO of Reifenhäuser Reicofil, explained the decision: "We have considered what contribution we can make in this crisis. This is, of course, mainly the fast delivery of meltblown lines to build up additional capacities. We have drastically reduced our delivery times here, but we also wanted to provide support at shorter notice. Until the currently lacking capacities are built up, we are therefore stepping in with the test plants in our pilot plant station. Not using this capacity now would be irresponsible in our view.”
Until further notice, the meltblown lines will be operated in 4-shift operation 24/7. It is estimated that the daily output is sufficient for up to one million face masks. Trial operations will be almost completely suspended during this period. For Michael Maas, who is responsible for the test plant, this is not a problem: "Due to the corona pandemic, the customer visits and tests that were actually planned have increasingly been cancelled, so that plant capacities and personnel capacities have been freed up anyway. Switching the plant from test to production operation therefore makes double sense.”
The meltblown material from the nonwoven technology centre is already sold out for the next five weeks, and, as no German or European producer for further processing could be found so far, the nonwoven fabric is going to a Vietnamese manufacturer of face masks. However, Reifenhäuser continues to look for opportunities to strengthen the local supply during this crisis. The company is in close contact with associations, authorities and other companies.
Kunze explains that material for other medical protective clothing could also be produced at short notice: "We assume that protective suits, hoods, etc. will also become scarce. We are happy to offer our help here as well. One of our pilot lines can produce the corresponding material, an SMS nonwoven, in the highest quality at short notice. In the medium term, however, we should also expand the real production capacities in Germany or Europe with new plants here as well".