Brian Joss – In response to the global Covid-19 crisis, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) is focusing its time and attention on the manufacture of masks and medical equipment, which could be crucial in protecting South African citizens from the virus.
VWSA has partnered with Gusco, which was previously a beneficiary of the company’s Community Trust, to produce soft fabric face masks aimed at reducing the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Following a successful trial batch, production of these masks began last week, with the goal of delivering a few thousand masks over the coming weeks in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
The idea to produce face masks stemmed from the national and global shortage of protective masks.
VWSA’s engineers are part of an international Volkswagen Group team pioneering possible ways in which the company can assist during the global crisis. In addition to this collaboration, VWSA is also part of the National Government Task Force team working on medical equipment such as ventilators.
The company’s Research and Development team is using 3D printing technology to produce parts for a mechanical ventilator which will be produced at the Uitenhage plant. The ventilator is based on an open-source design produced by Seat in Spain.
“We are working with Dr John Black, who is the lead medical advisor on Covid-19 in Nelson Mandela Bay, Dr Adrian Wentzel, a local anaesthetist, and Quinton Uren of Jendamark Automation” said Joost Kessels, Head of Technical Engineering at VWSA. “Our Legal team is in the process of obtaining the medical release from the relevant authorities as South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, which we need before we can commence with mass production.”
“We are continuously investigating ways in which VWSA can offer support to the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in this time of crisis. We are working together as business under the lead of the Business Chamber in assisting Dr Black and his team with everything we can from engineering to logistics. It is very important for all the key stakeholders in the Metro to collaborate in order to flatten the curve of the infections whilst protecting the lives of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa Chairman and Managing Director.
Schaefer added: “VWSA is made up of employees with diverse talents and qualifications. We have made these skills available to the country and the Metro to contribute to the fight against Covid-19.”
CAPTION: The production line: masks instead of cars at the Uitenhage factory. Picture: Quickpic