Just over a week ago Harkness Screens announced that they would be starting a number of research and development projects into ways that they could support healthcare workers, social care workers and key workers, using their unique skills and broad geographical footprint.
With factories in the United States, UK, France, India and China, the effects of COVID-19 and the coronavirus have been felt by all branches of the Harkness tree. With going to the cinema and large gatherings off the agenda for the foreseeable future, Harkness Screens now shift to focus on how they can help those on the frontline best.
With 90 years’ experience working with screens surfaces, PVC having been the core material used for majority of this time, Harkness have the process and the skills and belief that they can instead provide durable and protective clothing and equipment for those on the frontline, fighting COVID-19.
Harkness have prototype designs of medical curtains and heavy duty PVC aprons using the PVC usually used to create a movie theatre’s silver screen. These could be rolled out into a number of different environments, such as the fast food, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
CEO of Harkness Screens, Mark Ashcroft, is firm in his belief that Harkness can offer much needed protection and help in these difficult times.
“For us, this pandemic could be felt at the tail end of last year when the onset of it in China meant that our factory remained closed from Chinese New Year to the end of March,” Ashcroft said, “As a result, when COVID-19 reached the other regions we operate in, we knew what to expect and were proactive in thinking of new ways to help.
“Our team across the world have been collaborating to think of products that could help those on the frontline. I have seen images of medical staff at drive through testing centres in the USA and UK wearing aprons that are made from a material no thicker than that of a plastic bag you can get from a grocery store. They blow in the wind easily and expose people putting themselves in danger of contracting the disease.
“These heavy duty aprons made out of PVC would sit far stiller and would take much more than a breeze to disrupt them. We truly believe that we can help those on the frontline at the moment and hope that people take us up on our sincere offer to provide assistance in these unprecedented times.”
Hoping to provide screens or curtains to be deployed in hospitals, field hospitals and temporary healthcare facilities, such as that at the Javits Center in New York and the Nightingale Hospital which is being constructed in the ExCel London exhibition centre with 4000 beds.
Elsewhere in the United Kingdom, to cope with the expected rise of cases in the country, the Parc y Scarlets is expected to provide 500 beds, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium will be set up with 2000 and in Scotland, the SEC Centre in Glasgow will be providing 1000 beds.
Chief Scientist and Director of R&D (research and development), Laurent Espitalier, believes that all of Harkness’ ideas are well within the skillset and capabilities of Harkness staff all over the world.
“All of the concepts we have come up with use the same techniques and technology that we use every day in the manufacturing of cinema screens,” Espitalier said, “Things like the medical curtains have a place in all critical industries, maintaining high rates of production and can be very easily produced by us.
“Speaking to my colleagues all over the world, who are in different stages of this pandemic, I am sure that Harkness Screens can offer help where it is most needed. The fact that we have such a wide global footprint means that we can help countries and provide them with high quality PVC products, because we have a wealth of knowledge in that material.
“More than anything we just want to help. We understand we are not alone in that; you have seen over the last week or so, how many people have volunteered to help the NHS, how many doctors and nurses have come out of retirement. We want to be part of that.”
Harkness Screens are also currently developing other ideas that could help commercial industries maintain high standards of health and safety, both during and post the COVID-19 pandemic. Droplet shields are clear visors that would allow those working in retail professions, such as supermarkets and fast food restaurants, to complete their day to day activities, reducing the risk of infection to themselves and customers.
Whilst the original concept was not created for critical care healthcare professionals, the feedback Harkness have received about the droplet shields has meant that they have embarked on prototyping a face shield for those directly on the frontline.
Another concept currently being investigated is the potential of creating ‘driver bubbles’ for taxi drivers ferrying essential staff to and from work. This would involve the installation of a curtain system around the driver, to again prevent the transmission of the virus and bacteria between passenger and driver.
“I am very proud to be heading up a group so passionate about providing aiding essential services during this event in history,” Mark Ashcroft said, “Everyone is working around the clock to come up with solutions that we are facing in this new world and I sincerely think that each of our solutions can help someone somewhere.
“We are committed to sell these at no more than manufactured cost to Government, medical and military sectors, to help the COVID-19 crisis and support keeping our factory employees in work during the cinema shutdown period.
“What is so utterly fantastic is that each of our factories, when given the specifications for each of these concepts, will be able to start production right away and help healthcare, social care and other key workers in their regions beating this pandemic.”
To learn more about the products in development and for more information on their availability visit harkness.co and click the Harkness Here to Help button and we will contact you.
Company Name: Harkness Screens
Contact Person: Joe Harvey
Email: Send Email
Phone: +44 (0)1438 725 200
Address:Unit A, Norton Road
Country: United Kingdom