Rapid supply of component parts to critical industries in the Corona crisis

WDS Components has supplied component parts to the NHS throughout the Coronavirus crisis, including the first Nightingale Hospital, providing large volumes with rapid delivery. The components and standard parts supplier has maintained reliable and timely supply to all of its customers within critical industries, including medical equipment, pharmaceutical and food & beverage.

Mark Moody, Sales & Marketing Director at WDS Components, talks about the importance of flexible and robust operations to maintain supply.

While many manufacturers have slowed down production as the Coronavirus epidemic has reduced demand, those supplying critical industries have faced different challenges. Care of staff is the first priority, followed by maintaining supply to existing customers in critical industries amongst reduced component availability. In addition, as designers and manufacturers work together to tackle Covid-19, new projects have placed increased demands.

WDS Components has been involved in the development of many key projects invoked to combat Covid-19, including London’s NHS Nightingale Hospital, set up to provide critical care throughout the crisis. WDS was asked to supply 10,000 castors for hospital beds manufactured by an aerospace company, which had diversified to fulfil emergency demand.

In a hospital environment where hygiene is fundamental, particularly during the period of emergency infection control, equipment must be able to withstand washdown when required while providing resistance to corrosion. Not only does corrosion deteriorate the integrity of the structure, it can also encourage bacteria and becomes harder to clean effectively. Therefore, the castors had to fit the specification with stainless steel and the selection of Type 304 stainless steel frames with nylon wheels meant that they would be able to endure thorough wash down when required and provide the necessary resistance to corrosion.

When the hospital opened on 3 April, the emergency situation meant that time was of the essence. As a result of WDS Components’ commitment to maintain deep stock levels and an extensive supply network, it was able to supply the complete order within two days.

The current ongoing situation has meant that WDS Components has had to be more agile in terms of manufacture and procurement as product availability combined with a need for fast delivery have been the driving forces. The company designs and manufactures many of its components onsite in Leeds, which means that to a significant extent it can control its own stock flow to ensure its customers are supplied with what they want, when they need it most. Components are also manufactured for best cost and, when necessary, to meet demand. Despite recent challenges regarding supply by importation, WDS Components has been able to rely on its extensive supply network to procure parts from overseas and Europe despite the challenges of Brexit.

In addition to the Nightingale project, WDS Components has supplied key sectors with a wide variety of parts and accessories, including handles for ventilator systems as well as tripod support bases for medical drip systems. Due to the crucial importance of hygiene during the Covid outbreak, stainless steel has been a material in growing demand. WDS Components has been able to fulfil this need by manufacturing an increased variety of components in stainless steel which can be identified on searching for product types 303 to 316.

WDS Components’ technical support and engineers have also been heavily utilised in recent months, especially for OEMs who were manufacturing non-standard products for their operations to help answer the demands of the Covid situation. In some cases, manufacturers were developing bespoke parts which required extensive technical expertise from WDS Components’ own engineers. Offering in house engineering and design services has been a crucial factor for WDS Components’ customer base.

Aside from new projects, many WDS Components customers are involved in key industries including medical equipment, pharmaceutical products and food & beverage, as well as nuclear, rail and transport, and the drilling and supply of oil, gas and water. Continued uninterrupted supply to these critical sectors has been vital. As a result, WDS Components’ manufacturing operation has continued, albeit with new safety measures in place to ensure that infection control safety is upheld.

Continued operation for WDS Components also means that when restrictions are lifted, a transitional period won’t be required to restart processes. The benefit to customers is that product availability and delivery will continue as normal.