A GEELONG manufacturer at the forefront of the nation’s frontline COVID response has been recognized as one of the state’s top manufacturers.

North Geelong medical supplies manufacturer Care Essentials has been named Medium Manufacturer of the Year at this year’s Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Awards, after an almost five-fold increase in its workforce since the start of the pandemic.

Care Essentials pivoted its product range in 2021 to include sterilization wraps to hospitals performing elective and public surgeries across Australia, as the industry faced a shortage of products that used raw materials similar to masks facials in demand.

The Geelong-based manufacturer already had access to similar materials for its market-leading Cocoon range of heated blankets used to maintain patient temperature during surgery, and has stepped up efforts to fill the market shortage.

“We installed the machine and were able to start manufacturing it,” said Care Essentials director Chinmay Sinha.

“We had to understand very quickly what the market expects from hospitals and their technical requirements.

“It was a great achievement that required a lot of innovation and problem solving.

“It involved the whole team, from production, manufacturing, accounting, marketing, research and development, our technical team, quality assurance to prepare it for the TGA.

“All of this happened within a few months when we launched a product.”

Mr Sinha said the success of the launch meant the packaging would remain a staple of the company’s product range in the future.

The development of the envelopes followed an earlier intervention by Care Essentials to manufacture N95 respirator masks for the Australian market earlier in the pandemic to address a similar shortage.

It now has 20 machines making the ventilators at its North Geelong factory after having zero in March 2020.

The manufacturer’s rapid growth has seen its workforce swell to nearly 100, from 20 before the pandemic. It was also a finalist in the Diversity and Inclusion category of the Manufacturing Awards.

The latest gong adds to Care Essentials’ win at the Australian State and Federal Export Awards for its flagship Cocoon products in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – a collection it hopes to add when the 2022 winners are announced .

Care Essentials is planning an expansion of incontinence products alongside its patient warming and sterilization equipment in the next phase of its North Geelong plant.

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