Market fundamentals changed dramatically with COVID-19
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused an exceptional situation globally, creating an incredible demand for healthcare goods in general, and specifically for protective medical products that are made from Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s fabrics.
“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, our team has been focused on supporting the healthcare industry with our entire protective fabric product portfolio. We have been working closely with our customers around the world to accommodate their pressing needs,” explained Lionel Bonte, Vice President of Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Medical business”.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s manufacturing plants serving the Medical business are currently experiencing unprecedented levels of demand across the entire medical product portfolio. Ahlstrom-Munksjö is doing their very best to manage this critical situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several steps have been taken to respond to the tremendous demand especially for the inner and outer coverstock fabrics used to make face masks.
“We have increased production significantly and have been working with our suppliers to maintain future raw material flow to help avoid disruptions. We are constantly monitoring the risks related to the supply chain to ensure our manufacturing needs can be met.”
“The medical business unit’s average coverstock fabric production contributes to an estimated 50-60 million finished face masks per month. As a result of the increased demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has nearly tripled. Ahlstrom-Munksjö is now producing the coverstock fabric being used to make over 150 million face masks per month,” commented Bonte.
Support from Ahlstrom-Munksjö's common business platform
Ahlstrom-Munksjö's common business platform provides global resources, which has a positive impact on supporting customer demand in the healthcare industry. For example, the Brignoud plant in France, part of the Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Nonwovens business, has offered an alternative outer coverstock fabric to help meet local requests in Europe. The company also brings additional production capacity to the market at the Turin, Italy plant which is part of the Filtration business. There, they have started production for face mask materials with a machine usually used for industrial filtration materials.
As a global company, Ahlstrom-Munksjö is expanding the Medical business’ reach and staying connected on a national and international level based on official updates provided by local government and institutions as well as international organizations. Across the world, individuals and corporations are doing the best to identify innovative solutions to address the critical needs for protective apparel. Subject matter experts at Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Medical business team are also providing support and guidance wherever and whenever possible.
A global leader in protective fabrics
For decades the medical business has been making fabrics used to construct surgical gowns and drapes, pleated surgical face masks, protective apparel and sterile barrier systems. These high performing medical fabrics are used around the world in operating rooms and clinical environments to protect health care workers and patients against viruses, bacteria and fluids.
Protection, comfort and performance
Not all medical nonwovens are created the same way; they have different levels of protection and properties for breathability and comfort. Some fabrics are highly breathable, which helps to keep the wearer cool and comfortable but have limited barrier protection. Some offer a high level of barrier protection but are not breathable. Having a technology that offers both protection and comfort is difficult to achieve.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö‘s next generation breathable viral barrier (BVB) fabric offers both protection and comfort. Its tri-laminate fabric is constructed to be impervious, breathable and comfortable. The outer layer is fluid repellent and durable. The barrier layer has a reformulated monolithic film membrane making it impervious to liquids, viruses and bacteria, while the chemical composition of the film itself allows moisture vapor to pass through it, keeping the surgical staff cool and dry. The darker inner layer is designed to reduce shadowing and is soft to the touch, which makes it comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Key Facts about Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Medical business
Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Medical business employs around 700 people with sales of approximately EUR 90 million in 2019. It has a global sales network and operates two plants and two converting lines.
In the Medical business, Ahlstrom-Munksjö continues to expand and enhance our medical product portfolio with personal protective apparel fabrics and grow market share in surgical drapes and gowns. In sterilization wraps, the company strives to strengthen its leading position in Europe and grow as a solutions provider through an enhanced service offering.