Vital manufacturing in a time of crisis
The current coronavirus pandemic has truly turned the world on its head with worrying implications for individuals and businesses alike.
One shining light in all of the gloom is the ability of some businesses to adapt. We have seen our local pubs and restaurants, seemingly doomed following the Prime Minister’s address on the 20th March, now setting up as take away and ready meal suppliers. Brewers across the country are turning their production lines over to the production of hand sanitiser, possibly the new liquid gold.
Other manufacturers have got in on the act looking at ways they can turn their production lines to new products. Even a small business in Bury St Edmunds, normally making replica model buildings for model train enthusiasts is turning its hand to PPE equipment for our under pressure NHS. On a larger scale, car and other manufacturers are being asked to make safety equipment, ventilators and new hospital beds.
Turning production to new product lines is not immediately straightforward however. Businesses will have major practical and regulatory issues to overcome, but the desire, demand and skills are there and it is inspiring to see the sector rise to the challenge to meet the new “war effort”.
There are of course many existing product lines out there helping the international effort against the virus. Some manufacturers are producing working on new, stripped down products which can be fabricated quickly and in volume. All of these products can be licensed to other manufacturers, both in and outside of the UK spreading the load and reducing bottlenecks in the supply chain.
These arrangements do require careful documentation though. Intellectual property rights and confidentiality need to be protected and it is vital that the rights and obligations of all the parties are clearly defined along with the methods of remuneration, most likely to be a commission.
Whilst our healthcare professionals and scientists spearhead the effort to beat the virus, our manufacturers have a key role to give them the tools they need to keep us and themselves safe, so hats off to them.
Geoff Hazlewood, Partner
This information is correct at 2.30pm on 26 March 2020.