Local IT Company Diversifies to Medical grade Face Masks to Support Rising Demand

The company, established in 2010, has successfully launched production of EN14683 IIR standard face masks. Carbon8 Ltd is well known for designing, building, and selling IT hardware including computer systems, and procuring IT from major brands to sell to large resellers in UK and Europe.

Most recently they had begun designing LED lighting for manufacture in India and the UK to sell into UK and Europe. Hit with the pandemic the company saw a substantial reduction in their sales as supply chains all around the world were affected by lockdowns happening globally. With little confidence of a return to normal levels within the short term and when the opportunity arose, the company decided to pivot their business completely and researched into producing medical grade face masks.

Almost instantaneously overnight there was a sudden supply shortage of face masks. Through their profound knowledge and experience of importing goods, the company started receiving requests from their clients to help source surgical face masks from abroad. The company successfully managed to procure 500,000 masks, and shortly began investigating the process to manufacture the face masks in UK.

In May 2020 John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd, got in touch with Supply Chain North East to discuss support in developing a new business model to incorporate the production of face masks, which led to the company being able to procure a second production line to produce and manufacture face masks. The company was able to access Capital grant funding made available to beneficiary companies which could support both their business and supply chain needs relating to the COVID 19 PPE Campaign.

Procuring a second production line would enable the company to increase output levels, where each machine will have a maximum capacity of 1,000,000 units a month. This will also allow for a contingency plan if one of the production lines were inoperable and allow for planned maintenance to be carried out without a complete halt in production.
Working with testing agencies as well as Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), John was able to ensure material supply and the finished product would meet the requirements and standard for use in the NHS and local authorities. The company has since attained the required certification and is now producing face masks to EN14683 IIR standards with their first order of 300,000 face masks ready to be shipped.

John Murphy, Director of Carbon8 Ltd adds:

“I would definitely recommend the Supply Chain North East programme to other businesses. The team were so helpful with the project and had an excellent understanding of what I was trying to accomplish, and I really appreciated the suggestions that were given in relation to the business. At a very uncertain time, we were given other options to our business and now that we are in production, we are looking forward to increasing our production permanently with the help received.”

Andy Brown, Supply Chain North East – Business Advisor adds:

“John from Carbon8 Limited is a true entrepreneur who has started and successfully grown a number of businesses in varying sectors. The effect of the pandemic on his existing business meant that he had to act quickly to transform his business and saw the manufacture of medical grade masks as an opportunity he could not overlook. John researched the requirements and standards required and then with the assistance of a grant from Supply Chain North East purchased machinery to set up 2 production lines in Consett and create new 6 jobs in the next 12 months and safeguard the 2 existing employees of Carbon8. The production line is now up and running and John is working with a number of Health Care Trusts with regards to supplying them with masks.”

Supply Chain North East brings together four key partners to work with over 800 businesses through to 2021, supporting them to identify opportunities in new and existing markets. An integral part of the North East Strategic Economic Plan, that has a vision to create 100,000 more and better jobs between 2014 and 2024. Supply Chain North East is delivered across the region by RTC North, Generator, North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA) and North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).
Supply Chain North East is a multimillion programme aimed at revolutionising the way SMEs diversify their offering and embrace new markets. The programme has received more than £3m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund, which is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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