In an effort to address ongoing global shortages of personal protective equipment in the medical field brought about by COVID-19, a subsidiary of Australian specialist equipment manufacturer Zicom Group (ASX: ZGL) has begun the commercial production of surgical masks for export to areas of high demand.
Singapore-based Sys-Mac Automation Engineering and its subsidiary iPtec Pte Ltd have used their combined in-house engineering skills and experience in manufacturing medical technology products to design and build an onsite surgical mask production line.
Short-term availability of manpower due to COVID-19 partial lockdown measures enabled a re-direction of the companies’ workforces to the new facility, which can produce 3 million surgical masks per month at full capacity.
The high-quality masks have already obtained regulatory and marketing approvals from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.
European regulatory approval is expected within the next few weeks, while approval from the US Food and Drug Administration is anticipated before year-end.
The masks have also been tested under current EN14683 directives, which is the standard of quality used in Europe for medical devices including surgical masks.
Testing has resulted in the masks being classified under Type IIR, which is the highest standard possible and indicates a bacterial filtration efficiency of up to 98%.
Zicom’s surgical masks have experienced an “encouraging” pick-up in sales since they were soft launched earlier this year.
Chief executive officer Sim Kok Yew said the masks were initially conceptualised as a short-term corporate social responsibility exercise but a growing global need instigated by the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in large-scale production.
“The emerging global landscape on the sustainability and growing demand for high quality surgical masks has convinced us of [the masks] long-term commercial feasibility,” he said.
“We have decided to develop and potentially expand in this new business and related personal protective equipment … we are confident it will generate recurrent revenue to supplement our group’s capital goods business.”