Bangalore: Just over ten days ago Harkness Screens announced that they would be starting a number of research and development projects into ways that they could support healthcare workers, social care workers, and key workers; thereby using their unique skills and broad geographical footprint. With factories in the United States, the UK, France, India, and China, the effects of COVID-19 and the coronavirus have been felt by all branches of the Harkness tree. With going to the cinema and large gatherings off the agenda for the foreseeable future, Harkness Screens now shift to focus on how they can help those on the frontline best.
With 90 years’ experience working with screens surfaces, PVC has been the core material used for the majority of this time, Harkness has the process and the skills and belief that they can instead provide durable and protective clothing and equipment for those on the frontline, fighting COVID-19. Harkness has prototype designs of medical curtains and heavy-duty PVC aprons using the PVC usually used to create a movie theatre’s silver screen. These could be rolled out into a number of different environments, such as the fast-food, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets.
With a firm belief that Harkness Screens can offer much-needed protection and help in these difficult times, Mark Ashcroft, CEO of Harkness Screens, said “For us, this pandemic could be felt at the tail end of last year when the onset of it in China meant that our factory remained closed from Chinese New Year to the end of March. As a result, when COVID-19 reached the other regions we operate in, we knew what to expect and were proactive in thinking of new ways to help. Our team across the world have been collaborating to think of products that could help those on the frontline. I have seen images of the medical staff at the drive-through testing centers in the USA and UK wearing aprons that are made from a material no thicker than that of a plastic bag you can get from a grocery store. They blow in the wind easily and expose people putting themselves in danger of contracting the disease.”
He further added, “These heavy-duty aprons made out of PVC would sit far stiller and would take much more than a breeze to disrupt them. We truly believe that we can help those on the frontline at the moment and hope that people take us up on our sincere offer to provide assistance in these unprecedented times.”
Chief Scientist and Director of R&D (research and development), Laurent Espitalier, believes that all of Harkness’s ideas are well within the skillset and capabilities of Harkness staff all over the world. He said, “All of the concepts we have come up with using the same techniques and technology that we use every day in the manufacturing of cinema screens. Things like the medical curtains have a place in all critical industries, maintaining high rates of production and can be very easily produced by us. Speaking to my colleagues all over the world, who are in different stages of this pandemic, I am sure that Harkness Screens can offer help where it is most needed. The fact that we have such a wide global footprint means that we can help countries and provide them with high-quality PVC products because we have a wealth of knowledge in that material.”
Harkness Screens are also currently developing other ideas that could help commercial industries maintain high standards of health and safety, both during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.