Coronavirus driving uptake of Australian manufactured products

Photo: Micro-X

From toilet paper, to hand sanitiser, to a locally developed lightweight x-ray machine, the increased production of some local manufacturers is being attributed to the coronavirus outbreak.

Woolworths Group’s CEO, Brad Banducci, has addressed the unusual toilet paper frenzy, which is seeing the product disappear from local supermarket shelves.

“We know it can be frustrating when we don’t have the products you need, or when delivery or pick up windows are filled more than usual. We’re working very closely with our suppliers to get products onto shelves as quickly as we can,” Banducci said.

While the vast majority of products aren’t affected and most stores aren’t seeing significant shortages, production is increasing to meet increased demand.

“The makers of Kleenex, Sorbent, Quilton and Woolworths own range of toilet paper have all increased their production to meet this very unusual demand. For example, the makers of Kleenex are now manufacturing 24 hours, 7 days a week at their Millicent, SA factory, as are Sorbent in their NSW and Victorian facilities. The makers of Quilton have tripled their normal production across their factories in Queensland, NSW and WA.”

The chain is also introducing limits to products, including to 4 packs per transaction for toilet paper and 2 per transaction for hand sanitiser.

South Australian based Artav Australia is struggling to meet demand from Hong Kong and Chinese distributors for its sanitiser and its hospital grade disinfectant, according to The Lead.

“The main supply channels are demanding from us as much as we can supply,” managing director Anthony Taverna said.

“We just sent out a 40-foot container this morning filled with about 25,000 one litre bottles of high-grade disinfectant and another container is being filled at the moment. Before now we’d only be supplying a few hundred bottles a month.”

The company, known for its hair salons, is converting a production line usually used for hair and beauty products for its Dispel hand sanitising gel. At its Adelaide factory another production shift also has been added for manufacturing and new staff members have swelled numbers at the factory to 60.

“They want to buy products from Australia rather than China because the standards are a lot higher and the cleanliness of our water is guaranteed,” Taverna said.

The factory has a water filter plant with UV sterilisation that can produce about 25,000 litres of water a day as a base for the products, but production is reliant on the sourcing of bottles, caps and some ingredients.

Adelaide company Micro-X has also announced that it has received $750,000 worth of orders for its lightweight x-ray machines from several Asian countries, according to The Lead.

“While these are terrible circumstances with the coronavirus epidemic spreading so quickly, we are pleased that our equipment will soon be able to assist medical teams with their response in affected countries,” Micro-X managing director, Peter Rowland, said.

The machines can be used in emergency wards to take chest x-rays which are a key tool in monitoring the progression of the pneumonia-like symptoms of severe coronavirus infection.

The Mixcro-X bedside carts use miniature tubes made from re carbon nano-tube emitters, in mobile units suited to emergency clinics.

“The carts are smaller, lighter and less complex and for bedside chest x-rays it’s ideal for emergency isolation wards,” Rowland said.

“We are proud that an Adelaide company is able to help people infected with this virus,”

He said that order will be completed within four weeks, towards which the company was “working around the clock.”

The carbon nanotube technology was developed in Adelaide in conjunction with the University of Adelaide and Flinders University.