Manufacturers try to operate normally and safely

Manufacturing businesses across the region are trying to operate their factories as normal in the wake of the Government’s lockdown.

Advanced Chemical Etching in Telford. Photo: Google StreetView.
Advanced Chemical Etching in Telford. Photo: Google StreetView.

Advanced Chemical Etching, which employs 65 people at its production facility on Hortonwood, Telford, is one of many manufacturers that is staying open for business to supply critical components for the medical sector.

The precision engineering specialist has actually seen an upturn in orders for a global customer base that wants to increase stocks of crucial parts that are used in surgery, life-saving machinery and cardiac equipment.

Managing director Ian Whateley said: “A lot of what we do is very intricate and specialised, with a significant amount of sales going into the medical sector.

“We’ve already had a lot of customers contact us to make sure we can keep the supply of critical parts going and we have taken measures to ensure we can continue to do that, whilst most importantly keeping our staff safe.

“This includes reorganising the workbenches and shopfloor to ensure they are more than two metres apart, encouraging home working where it is feasible to do so and operating split shifts.

"There is also the opportunity for us to use our laboratory to produce small volumes of hand sanitizer. We will shortly be producing our own hand sanitizer for work and the additional volumes will be donated to local care homes or the vulnerable.”


At A&M EDM in Smethwick the company is operating a strict two metre distancing rule for its 70-strong workforce split between its sites in Middlemore Road and Mornington Road. Some office staff are working from home.

Director Melvin Wingfield said: "There are lots of difficulties but we are opening longer than ever to accommodate staff social and domestic responsibilities.

"We are open between 6am and 12 midnight and operating an effective flexible working system which we have never done before. We have to be as flexible as possible to meet our colleagues needs."

He said there was a lot of ambiguity in the Government announcement about authorised travel to work.

"If essential services such as food production have a breakdown they can't manufacture untilthey get the parts that failed from companies like us. We are an integral part of the chain," he added.

"Some of our staff are self isolating so we are having to operate with a slimmed down staff but we are following all the guidelines and will follow any further ones the Government issues event if they tell us our doors can't open any more. Until then we will support the people who need our products."


A&M EDM is receiving orders as normal and processing them as efficiently as possible and working closely with its supply chain to minimise any disruption.

The team at Tipton-based Dolphin Lifts Midlands is doing all it can to ensure anyone reliant on a stairlift, ceiling track hoist or vertical lift so they can live independently in their home is not left unable to access rooms such as their bedroom or bathroom due to any technical issues.

Managing director Lee Farrington said: “Over recent weeks, we have invested heavily so that when the coronavirus situation escalated we would be in a position to remain open and continue serving the people of the West Midlands. To do this, we had to ensure that all our highly trained service engineers would have all the necessary additional training and equipment available to them so there would be no health risk to either themselves or any of our clients.

The Dolphin Lifts team at Vaughan Trading Estate, Tipton, before the coronavirus restrictions

"Every Dolphin Lifts Midlands engineer has their own personal protection equipment including face masks, gloves and antibacterial hand sanitiser with them at all times. We take this extremely seriously as many of our customers are in the vulnerable groups who are most at risk from this terrible virus. "

He added: We are a family business with strong family values and will do everything we can to help people in the West Midlands living with reduced mobility remain independent in their own home during these extremely challenging times.

In addition to emergency call outs. The Dolphin Lifts Midlands team is also on hand to carry out any servicing which may be required

Most businesses have now been told to shut and people encouraged to stay at home, with only essential services remaining open.

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce said:“We welcome the response from the Government to keep everyone safe and prevent extra pressures placed upon the NHS.

“As a business support agency, we would welcome additional clarity and appreciate that everyone has a part to play, these are unprecedented times but some business sectors still require clarification.

“We will continue to support our businesses and are here to help and guide them through this uncertainty.”

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