Philips Avent factory in Glemsford gives final swansong ahead of closure with project in aid of NHS workers battling coronavirus
Outgoing staff at a soon-to-close manufacturing plant have given their swansong to the factory, by concentrating their energies into a special project in support of front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Thousands of headbands for protective face masks have been produced by the tool room staff at Philips Avent in Glemsford, utilising their years of experience in developing baby products at the site.
After initially using a 3D printer, the team sped up the production process by transitioning to using a plastic mould tool to make the headbands.
The bands are designed to reduce discomfort for health workers, who are required to wear masks for many hours a day while treating patients, and they are now being distributed free of charge to hospital trusts around the country, including facilities in Ipswich and Colchester.
The project will be one of the final acts for the staff at the Philips Avent site in Lower Road, which has been winding down operations over several months, after announcing plans last year to cease operations in Glemsford.
The factory is currently set to formally close on July 31.
Among the departing staff is engineering stores co-ordinator Colin Smith, an employee for almost 50 years, since joining the company under its previous name, Cannon Rubber, in London, at the age of 15.
Mr Smith told the Free Press it will be very sad to see the factory shut, but the remaining team members are happy to have been able to focus on something that will help the NHS with the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
“Obviously, people are disappointed that the factory is closing,” he said. “In the last couple of months, it has started to get real, and the business is being wound down.
“It’s very sad. I moved to the current site in 1979. From then, all I saw was the company grow.
“For me, it’s disappointing because I’ve personally got a lot invested in this company.
“We’ve had some laughs and I have made some good friends. I will look back on my time here with a great deal of fondness.
“It has been great. I’ve been part of a business renowned for its quality.
“I’m 65 now and I’ve had continuous employment since school, so I have no complaints about my time here.
“With our experience of moulding, it was directed by the management team that we could make something quickly and turn it around in a couple of weeks, which we managed to do.
“All of the staff in the tool room have been working on it. We got it up and running in a fortnight.
“We made around 3,000 bands in a single run. It has been really great to be able to focus on this.
“It has been nice because it’s taken people’s attention off what’s going on, but it’s also meant we have been able to do something to contribute to the current pandemic.”
Tool room manager Brian Bowen added: “The design and tool room staff have many years’ experience in plastic moulding and were happy to support NHS staff who are doing such a great job.”
More by this authorThomas Malina
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