29 Apr 2020
Idea to manufacture in 10 days: Chemistry to save lives
Chemical distribution and services company, 2M reacted to the coronavirus in the most positive way they could think of: by converting a six acre facility to mass produce hand sanitiser, they were able to directly support front line workers by providing them with additional protection to help keep them safe.
Celebrating generosity has become one of the main characteristics of the coronavirus outbreak, with businesses and individuals doing what they can to help others in a time of need
One example of this is the shift in manufacturing by 2M, an international chemical distribution and services company.
Usually, 2M Group operate in multiple sectors including Precision Cleaning, Coating, Emission Reduction Adblue, Automotive and Oil-Fields & Refineries, as well as supplying Flavours, Fragrances and Surfactants for Personal-Care, Household & Industrial Hygiene Cleaning and Pharmaceuticals.
But since the coronavirus outbreak, the company has adjusted its production to start mass producing hand sanitiser for frontline services.
Warren King, from the Investec Growth & Leveraged Finance team, has been working with 2M for almost eight years and spoke to 2M's Liran Maller about this initiative.
Warren King (WK): How did the idea first come about to manufacture hand sanitiser?
Liran Maller (LM): When Covid-19 first infiltrated the UK, we purchased hand sanitiser for every employee. A few days later, it was impossible to buy on the high street. As a Group of “Life Science” companies we knew we could help by manufacturing hand sanitiser, although something we’d never done before. Ordinarily, we formulated concepts for manufacturers. Meanwhile, one of our six labs had already formulated and tested a new hand sanitiser, which was especially kind to hands.
"What I love about 2M is that if you’ve got an idea, others will help. Everyone just said: “we want to help, how do we start?”
WK: What was the reaction from 2M colleagues when this decision was first announced?
LM: What I love about 2M is that if you’ve got an idea, others will help. Everyone just said: “we want to help, how do we start?” I also love that we can do a lot of good. Chemistry saves lives. There was no question that if we were making hand sanitiser to sell, we would donate some too. We went from idea to manufacture in 10 days, pulling the whole Group together; parts of the business which had never worked together before jumped to get involved.
WK: Exactly how challenging was it to bring the idea to life?
LM: We knew we had everything we needed to bring this to life – a highly skilled team, access to up-stream supply chain, and the drive to do it. The biggest challenge was access to raw materials: Demand is so high that the government are even asking gin distilleries to sell alcohol to companies like us to support manufacture.
WK: What adjustments did the business have to make in order to make this operationally possible?
"From the first production run, we donated over 3000 bottles of hand sanitiser. Our aim is to donate at least 20,000 bottles. We manufacture over 30,000 litres of hand sanitiser per day, much of which has been supplied to front line services"
LM: Due to the unprecedented scale of demand, we had to move production from our lab to MP Storage and Blending, our six acre site in Middlesbrough. We cleaned and trialled our blending vessels to ensure they met Personal Care grade hygiene standards. We introduced new manufacturing processes and trained our amazing team, all in 10 days.
WK: Who have the hand sanitizers been distributed to so far?
LM: Initially, we provided our staff with hand sanitizer. Then they nominated their front line communities and I remain stunned by daily requests. These include:
- Nurses in Covid-19 Wards
- Ambulance drivers
- Care homes
- Royal Mail staff
The list is endless and requests are fulfilled within 24-48 hours, a testament to my truly amazing team. Having never sold this product before, we were also donating massive orders to the NHS and the Police Force, two weeks after bottling the first bottle.
Longer term, this operational transformation will enhance our capabilities, enabling us to manufacture whatever is required to support people in their everyday lives.
WK: What sort of quantities have been produced and what is the plan for this new operational capability?
LM: From the first production run, we donated over 3000 bottles of hand sanitiser. Our aim is to donate at least 20,000 bottles. We manufacture over 30,000 litres of hand sanitiser per day, much of which has been supplied to front line services. Longer term, this operational transformation will enhance our capabilities, enabling us to manufacture whatever is required to support people in their everyday lives.
WK: Why is this type of initiative important to 2M and its people?
LM: This project captures the essence of 2M. It demonstrates that across a diverse Group of companies, together we are one team that is always willing to take on a challenge. It also captures our underlying belief - a successful business is a business which does good. Ethics and community are everything to us. Our ethos is: “Delivering chemistry for a better life” and this project demonstrates that “Chemistry saves lives.” An open letter written by our Chairman & CEO Mottie Kessler MBE really emphasises this.
This amazing expression of altruism has been greatly appreciated across the country too and below are just a few of the responses from recipients of the donations:
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all the Domiciliary and Support Workers out in the community for you thoughtful and much needed donation of hand gel. This is a trying time for all our key workers on the front line who are doing a great job." (Synergy Home Care)
"Thank you for your help with the Surfachem Hand Gel—you’re our hero! The time you put into booking the request and sending out 36 bottles to Halifax Royal Mail Delivery Office, not to mention the speedy response, took a huge strain off our staff in these worrying times. If you hadn’t jumped in to save the day, we might have ended up canceling delivery routes and missing the chance to connect with all our customers daily." (Halifax Royal Mail Office)
"Thank you so much, you are truly a superhero in our eyes! I have let the hospices know and they have all asked me to pass on their immense gratitude." (Hope House)
"May I take this opportunity to thank Surfachem and indeed 2M as a whole for this donation. It is very much appreciated!" (Elsecar Holy Trinity Primary)
"The nurses commented on how the gel was good at not making their hands sore. Must be a clever formulation…" (University Hospital of Derby University Hospital of Derby)