Sunderland Nissan plant to produce up to 100,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) visors per week for NHS workers - next door to Nightingale Hospital

Up to 100,000 protective visors could be sent to NHS workers fighting COVID-19 every week from Sunderland’s Nissan plant.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 2:22 pm

The car-maker has set up a parts processing line at the factory – next door to the planned 460-bed North East Nightingale Hospital – to help supply health staff with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to combat the virus.

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Nissan Washington PPE assembly area

The new initiative was inspired by the efforts of four brothers, two of whom work for the Japanese manufacturing giant, who started making face guards from home with their own 3D printers.

Anthony Grilli said: “We had the ability to support the national effort to produce more PPE for frontline health workers and we just had to help.

“We quickly mobilised to produce parts using our 3D printing capability at home and we’re grateful to everyone that donated through our crowd funding site to help us get this going.”

Anthony, who works with his brother Chris at the firm’s Technical Centre, in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, initially got their home operation off the ground with the help of crowdfunding.

Nissan Washington PPE assembly area

But since then Nissan has handed over extra cash for an injection moulding tool to increase the number of parts produced.

A team of volunteers in Sunderland have now created a processing line in the final assembly area at the Washington plant to sort thousands of individual visor parts and pack them in sets of 125.

This is expected to see more than 77,000 visors leave Wearside by the end of this week, rising to 100,000 from next week.

From there they will head to an NHS procurement centre and then sent on to wherever they are needed most.

Nissan Washington PPE assembly area

Boxes of visor parts are also being sent in from volunteers from across the country who have been using their own 3D printers to make PPE.

Adam Pennick, Nissan’s production director said: “It’s great to be able to play our part in helping to provide the NHS with these visors.

“Our people are experts in the logistics behind an effective supply chain, and we certainly weren’t short of volunteers for this project.”

The process in a nutshell:

PPE visor parts at Nissan's Washington plant

The visors are made up of three individual parts: an elastic headband, frame, and see-through visor. These parts are sent to Nissan for packing and distribution in a ready-to-assemble format to an NHS procurement centre. The visors are shipped in this format at the request of the NHS to minimise damage risk during transit, and to ensure the maximum volume can be dispatched at once.

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