"The lines installed in the nonwovens technology centre, 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," the company said in a press release.
"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," said Dr. Bernd Kunze, CEO of Reifenhäuser Reicofil.
Until further notice, the meltblown lines will be operated in 4-shift operation 24/7. The daily output is sufficient for up to one million face masks. Trial operations will be almost completely suspended during this period, the release said.
"Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the customer visits and tests that were actually planned have increasingly been cancelled, so that plant capacities 2/2 and personnel capacities have been freed up anyway. Switching the plant from test to production operation therefore makes double sense," says Michael Maas, who is responsible for the test plant.
The meltblown material from the nonwoven technology centre is already sold out for the next five weeks. 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."
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RKS)