Within a week of the UK’s lockdown in March, the company was receiving a large volume of enquiries from companies needing components for the production of reusable clear plastic face visors. As a specialist in closed-cell foam manufacture, KCL was uniquely positioned to advise and produce one key aspect: the foam part of the headband, which separates clear plastic sheeting from the face and makes the visor comfortable to wear for extended periods.
“Our clients needed advice on densities, hardness and even colour,” explained Malcolm Newington, Business Development Manager. “We were able to provide samples and prototypes quickly and get the visor pads into production without delay in order for our clients to start manufacturing PPE. We put prototypes on client’s desks as quickly as 48 hours from initial enquiry.”
Founded in 1971, KCL has grown from a single homemade machine in the late Colin Kewell’s garage to a thriving, industry-leading enterprise that counts Aardman Animations, Elekta and Grundfos amongst its clients. Colin’s sons Nick and Marcos are now Directors of the business.
“We have had to adapt quickly to new ways of working, not just because of the unexpected global demand for PPE but to ensure our staff are safe while they’re on the factory floor,” stated Marcos Kewell, Commercial Director. “We introduced a new two-shift pattern of working and upgraded our hygiene practices to make sure everyone is protected.”
The company employs 35 people and has recruited eight temporary staff members to fulfil production, and four new permanent positions are currently being advertised. The demand for PPE components has accelerated KCL’s investment in new plant and machinery.
KCL has supplied UK-based companies such as Mauveworx and Protecting Heroes with foam visor pads. Demand for PPE is now very strong and KCL has also seen indications that the manufacturing industry as a whole is starting to return to business, with new enquiries coming in from outside the medical equipment sector.
“The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has shown us just how important it is for the business to stay agile and be able to respond quickly and precisely to what clients need,” Marcos concluded. “It means a lot to the whole team that we have played a part in protecting frontline workers and the NHS, and we’re pleased to have kept our staff safe while doing so. My father would be very proud.”