COVID-19 has been going on for roughly two years now. In the face mask market,…
TESTEX Mask Making Machine In Our Greece Customer’s Factory, Being Introduced to the Prime Minister
Our mask production line customer has shared with us a video, in which he introduced the solution they found to fight against the COVID-19, i.e. start to producing antiviral masks for the country and countries around.
We, as the provider of the mask production line, are very honored to see our machine running well in the customer’s facility and feel happy we can do something to help.
For more information you can check this video(see our machines from time 13:50):
For those can not speak Greece, we pasted the dialogue in English:
Hello, hello! Kostas, good morning! Achilleas, good morning! Hello Mr. Serepas![The people in the conference call greet the Prime Minister]
I’m glad to see you. I want to start with a story from the summit meeting that we had yesterday, where we discussed the need for Europe to get a significant industrial capacity and not be depended on imports for medical equipment, especially protective medical equipment. So, what is just a plan and a clear political direction for most European countries, you, with your ingenuity, your speed, and taking a business risk as well, have already made it a reality.
And I want to congratulate you truly, from my heart, for the speed in which you moved, and the fact that now two important Greek exporting companies, with long experience in the industry, with a great reputation inside and outside Greece, are getting “married” in order to create the raw materials and mainly the surgical masks that are and will be so important. And all in record time and very serious amount, to cover a serious part of the Greek market, and why not the markets abroad as well. So, we would like you to talk about this initiative, to tell us a short history of how this process was directed.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, I would also like to congratulate the Ministry of Development, and the Minister and the Deputy Ministers and General Secretaries, as well as the Ministry of Health, because I know that they had to coordinate ministries in order to offer the necessary support for this investment to progress. I dare to say though that this is a manifestation of the Greek entrepreneurship, one of the best of its manifestations. And I am looking forward to even just an online tour of your production spaces, and more details about your plans. Kostas, will you begin?
Our subsidiary in Scotland, Don & Low, was one of the first companies in the world to install this technology and production line. In 1999, after the acquisition, when we bought Don & Low, one of the first things we did was move the know-how to Xanthi and build a new factory there to create the spunbond fabric.
These fabrics have many uses, one of which are the protective equipment, masks, gowns, anything that’s made of fabric. Today, we’re producing in Scotland and Greece. Right when this coronavirus pandemic started in China, demand for this started growing very much. We realized the issue of the masks was important. Having the know-how, the contacts, the customers, the suppliers, we decided to bring, and we did bring as fast as we could, a machine, in order to verticalize our production; to cover, firstly, the needs of the area, and of Greece, of course.
I say of the area, because we have a very special bond with Thrace, so our priority always is Thrace. This is the reason we took this name, Thrace. And by exporting to 80 countries, the word Thrace is now known to many people.
Let’s hear a few words from the gentlemen of Lariplast, and then let’s see their production spaces.
I want highlight mainly the speed of our investment. It’s very important that in 25 days from the moment we thought of the idea, to the moment it was materialized, we have achieved this. And I want to say, here in front of our Prime Minister, a huge thank you to our personnel. They did the humanly impossible, possible. For me, this is the most important thing. And there is a word in Greek, “filotimo” [earnestness, sense of honour] that contains all virtues in a single word.
It’s very important how we did everything very quickly, with no business plan, with no subsidies—something that’s not right, at least the lack of a business plan—without any funding. It was an investment of purely emotional character.
I also want to highlight the capabilities of our production line. We have two fully automated lines where there’s no human involvement, and our production capabilities are 9 million units a month. And this, I think, right now, fulfils and gives a self-sufficiency and a sense of safety of production to Greece.
I want to mention that the production space, as well, has been built according to the standards of the National Organization of Medicines, and very strict standards of hygiene in our production line, which I’d be glad if you visited as soon as you can.
In closing, I’d like to mention the authorizations. In this, we had the support of our home region, mainly Mr. Agorastos, as well as the support of the central government. For us, that was very important. There was a vigorous interest from the relevant ministries, the Ministry of Health, Mr Koilias, the Ministry of Development, Mr. Georgiadis—who has a very special style, familiar to us businessmen—and of course, from you, Mr. Prime Minister. And all of you created this frame.
Truly, in the 30 years I’ve been a businessman, it’s the first time I see the state being so well-coordinated with the business world. Thank you very much.
The challenge now is to make what might look like a special case, an exception, into the norm. Because that’s our intention, regarding the authorizations. Now can we hear Mr. Davelis, before we see the two areas?
Mr. Prime Minister, greetings, thank you for the opportunity you’re giving us. As you know, I’m a businessman in the health industry. I own the ANIMUS health group.
For me, everything started through the health care perception of the huge problem and the coming danger of the coronavirus. I’m the president of the Thessalian Association of Business and Industry, and Mr. Tserepas is the vice president of the Association. We’ve had a good relationship since 2016, with our main motto being “our strength is our cooperation” and we’re very happy that we dealt with the attack of the coronavirus and the need for the mask, along with the tradition and the industrial experience of Mr. Tserepas. We married these two trends, the details regarding the speed of service were mentioned by Mr. Tserepas already.
We’re happy to have taken part, in the degree that was possible, in this social and national time of need, and we’re happy to continue taking part.
Very good! Kostas, can we have a tour?
Yes. Before the tour, I’ll show you what a mask is made of.
So here, we can see a surgical mask. It’s made of three fabrics. The blue is the exterior one, spunbond type, and it’s hydrophobic, since these masks are mainly designed for surgery, so blood or any fluid that falls on it won’t enter or be absorbed into the fabric. The middle fabric is meltblown, which fulfils the most important role, it is the filter that according to the BFE standards has an efficiency level of over 98%. This virus is big enough, so it’s filtered easily. The interior fabric is spunbond again, softer, for comfort during use. This mask, besides filtering, ensures ease of breathing as well.
Let’s see now, Christos, let’s see the spunbond production. Then I’ll talk about meltblown, since meltblown is produced in Scotland, and I’ll mention some news that came today from there. And then Konstantinos will show us the masks. Christos, over to you.
Good evening. I’ll show you the production of spunbond. I’m forced to wear masks, because of the new reality we are living through.
In front of you, you’ll see the production of spunbond nonwoven. As you can see, the fabric is blue, which is for the mask’s outer layer. We’ll see the production line which was installed in Greece in 2000. Our raw material is polypropylene, from Thessaloniki, which is then led to the extruder where with the help of high heat and pressure, it’s extruded in 36,000 fibers. These then, with the aid of air, are led to a transport belt. The result is a web which then ends up in the spunbond nonwoven.
Our production capabilities, from both of our production lines—there’s a second one in the next chamber—is 1.6 million square meters, which can make 25 million masks each day. Our products are exported to all countries of the world, mainly Europe and America. The healthcare industry is one of our applications, we also sell applications for farming protection equipment, antifreeze fabrics, we sell for breathable roof membrane applications.
An important thing to show to you is our raw material, the one we begin from, polypropylene. Our main supplier is the Hellenic Petroleum company of Thessaloniki, and with the equipment I showed you, we end up with our two final products, the material that is then used to make the mask; the outer layer and the inner layer.
It’s also important to tell you that because of the new situation with the coronavirus, we developed a membrane that is breathable. It’s already in the markets abroad. It offers protection, is impenetrable to water, and has a very high breathability, being comfortable to the user. The final product made from this material is protective apparatus, and we’ve all seen how important it is for our protection.
Good, let’s see Mister…
Konstantinos, how is your new factory going? Show us.
Good evening. Everything’s going good. Good evening Mr. Chaliouris, good evening Mr. Prime Minister, Ministers, thank you all for your virtual visit to Xanthi.
Behind me, you can see the production space of surgical masks. The machine was delivered on Wednesday and we’re already in a two-shift schedule, two shifts each day, and from next week, we’ll have a four-shift schedule, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We have 56 people working, and starting next week, they’ll be here all day, making masks. Let’s take a quick tour around the production line, if you’d like, and then we’ll come out to talk.
We are in the production area [to the camera operator: here, if you can]. We can see the production machine, it combines the fabrics I mentioned, and makes the mask’s main body.
It goes in fast, and obviously, one comes and gets stuck on the other.
The next stage of production is the installation of the ear loop, the loops that go around the ear.
And the last stage is quality control—packaging and quality control. We check the masks to see if they’re adequate, for their microbial load, before we release them to the market.
So, this is the mask production line. Everything happened very quickly. I had an amazing experience; after all the years I’ve been working, the customs were waiting for us to close up. Imagine, the airplane landed on 5 o’ clock, the machine was cleared at customs that same day, the truck was waiting, it arrived to Xanthi at 8:30 in the morning, and at 1 or 2 in the evening, I was sent a video where the machine was working already. Things I’ve seen for the first time, very interesting, but what’s the most important?
That all this gives us courage, gives amazing strength to our people, and I’d say that I’m very proud for the whole team, both of Greece and of Scotland. In the crisis of the coronavirus, the R&D department had two huge successes, one that Christos showed you, with the breathable membrane for the gowns, and the other belongs to Scotland, the team there found a product to cover a market gap for FFP3 masks. That was another innovation, and it’s very interesting that when it’s needed, people put their minds together, and it works, and we have the results quickly. There were developments in the previous years as well, we have had successes, but they took much longer, and much more work.
Good. I want to thank you all for your amazing work. I’m glad that you’re creating an ecosystem in Greece of verticalized production of protective equipment. I’d be glad to visit your installation in Larissa and you, Thrace Plastics, in Xanthi. I’m wishing you success and congratulations again.
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