Nissan will produce 100,000 visors a week for NHS workers treating coronavirus patients at its Sunderland plant from next week, becoming the largest face protection provider in Britain.
The carmaker will have delivered 77,000 visors by Friday, with plans to increase production to 100,000 per week.
It is among a raft of UK manufacturers that have started producing medical provisions under national efforts to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak that have drawn comparisons with a wartime economy.
While the government has come under fire over a lack of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves for frontline health staff, factories left idle by the economic shutdown have converted to churn out products ranging from hospital gowns to life-support machines.
A broad array of engineering companies from the aerospace, automotive and defence sectors are combining to produce ventilators needed to treat hospitalised coronavirus victims, while other businesses are making masks and visors needed to protect NHS staff.
BAE Systems intends to make 145,000 visors in the coming weeks, including 40,000 next week to be shipped to Bristol, Glasgow, London, Kent, Manchester, Portsmouth, Preston and Southampton.
The chemicals group Ineos, controlled by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, has built factory lines in Middlesbrough, Germany and France to bottle alcohol-based gel following a spike in demand, given its important role in preventing the spread of the virus.
Nissan has amassed parts from an array of supply companies, many of which 3D-printed the parts, and set up an assembly line to put together the finished visors at its plant in the North East. It also provided injection moulding equipment for one company to help increase the speed of its production.
“Our people are experts in the logistics behind an effective supply chain,” said Nissan’s production director Adam Pennick.
“It’s great to be able to play our part in helping to provide the NHS with these visors.”
The visors are made up of three individual parts: an elastic headband, frame and a clear 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 unable to be transported whole as they may break in transit.
“This has been a real team effort at a difficult time for everyone,” said BAE manufacturing director Richard Hamilton.
“Employees across our air, maritime and electronic systems sectors, as well as our suppliers, are all rallying to play their part in the national endeavour as we work together to ramp up and further increase the supply of vital protective equipment to the frontline.”