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Manufacturers rise to the challenge of combating COVID-19

Wednesday 15, Apr 2020

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Manufacturers rise to the challenge of combating COVID-19The Queensland Government has commended the state’s manufacturers for “stepping up to the plate” and registering their willingness to assist and supply equipment and materials that will help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “We’re seeing Queensland businesses making products from hand sanitiser to masks to help protect our frontline workers,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. “Queensland ingenuity and innovation is a very important part of our response to COVID-19 and is supporting local businesses and local jobs.”

The government had reached out to manufacturers, producers and suppliers, asking the state’s businesses to register their willingness and capability to help fill supply gaps and keep production lines moving. “We have received an amazing response from Queensland manufacturers who are developing solutions by retooling and pivoting their focus to new products, and offering engineering and design expertise,” Cameron Dick, Minister for Manufacturing, said.

“We have received over 250 enquiries from industry and connected more than 150 businesses to potential suppliers since the Manufacturer’s Supply Matching webpage was launched three weeks ago,” Dick said. “To help further, a request to the market is being undertaken through the Industry Capability Network (ICN) Gateway, which will connect businesses across industries with suppliers to continue operations. We currently have 16 work packages promoting Queensland supply opportunities directly to manufacturers via the ICN Gateway.

“Many of these packages focus on the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including healthcare products such as face masks, hand sanitiser, face shields, ventilators, gowns and protective eyewear,” Dick said. The minister also commended the “generosity, creativity and agility of industry and business [that] has been nothing short of inspiring these past few weeks”, yet also highlighted the need to “continue spreading the word about our online register”.

“I’m hopeful that the work we are doing now here in Queensland — and Australia — concerning supply chains, manufacturing and other measures will leave us better placed in the weeks and months ahead,” Dick concluded. Queensland manufacturers able to help fill supply gaps can register through the ICN Gateway at www.qldcovid19.icn.org.au, while those Queensland businesses and manufacturers that are having difficulty accessing supplies are being advised to visit www.qld.gov.au/qld-supplies.

National call

Nationally, the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) has renewed calls for manufacturers to join the fight. Most recently, those with the capability to produce ventilators that meet the minimum technical requirements set out in the ‘Ventilator for COVID-19 use in Australia’ specifications from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and those with capability to produce probes, primers and other reagents for laboratory diagnostics are being asked sign up. Those manufacturers able to help can make contact with DISER about these recent calls via c19ventilators@industry.gov.au and covidtestingsupplies@industry.gov.au, respectively.

To assist in the national response from manufacturers who are shifting from their traditional work to the production of essential products that meet domestic shortfalls, Standards Australia has released a document that has been developed by industry and governments to support manufacturers in making a quick shift into these new areas. “After the Second World War, standards were essential to the domestic market and have been enabling economic growth ever since,” Standards Australia Chief Executive Officer Adrian O’Connell said. “While the challenge we face today is different, the need for our domestic manufacturing is much the same and we are established to support Australian businesses as they strive to build essential domestic manufacturing capacity.”

The released document from Standards Australia is titled: ‘Supporting the COVID-19 national response and Australian manufacturers’. The document outlines information on standards that may be relevant to key areas of the current domestic product shortfall, including: gloves, respiratory protection, surgical masks and other protective clothing. “Industry solutions to fulfil market and community needs have been the focus of our efforts for many years, and in this case we have been working to deliver support to the national response to COVID-19,” O’Connell said.

“Standards Australia works with industry and government to manage over 7000 standards, and in this time of national crisis we don’t want people to be wasting their time trying to find certain information depending on their situation,” Daniel Chidgey, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Standards Australia, said. “Being able to switch from producing gin to hand sanitiser, or t-shirts to surgical gowns are priority for manufacturers and where their efforts should be focused, not trawling through our database for relevant standards.”

For the latest information on Australia’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, visit www.australia.gov.au.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/InkheartX