Last autumn we talked to Rod Parker and Kate Owen at Gwalia Healthcare about the tremendous work being undertaken by the Treforest-based business to deal with the pandemic whilst recovering from a major flood just prior – from stepping in to fulfil sanitisation and contamination control needs across all sectors of the economy, to taking new concepts to commercialisation in medical device manufacturing.
Five months on, we caught up with Rod and Kate to see how the company has developed through a winter that’s posed further challenges to many businesses across Wales and the UK …
“We’ve grown our workforce by over 40% and are planning further infrastructure developments to expand capacity in all divisions of the business”
“It’s been a time of continued investment for us, from developing our products to expanding our team and strengthening our infrastructure, as we manage increased demand from our traditional and new customers in both the UK, US and other export markets” enthuses Kate. “The demand for pharmaceutical and automotive packaging remains central to our business – and this increased vastly, so we’ve scaled up our workforce by over 40% and we’re now a 77-strong team. That growth has also seen us look to increase our warehousing capacity by another 400 pallet spaces – so we really have stepped up to another level.
“We’ve invested continually in our products and services”
“Product-wise, we’re very excited to be partnering with Hybrisan and their advanced sanitiser, as it’s alcohol-free and provides ongoing pathogenic protection to treat both surfaces and hands. We’re also now a key UK distributor for Graco SaniSpray HP disinfectant sprayers, which is an incredibly efficient and consistent airless spraying solution to handle any disinfecting and sanitising job. We’re able to offer Hybrisan in both the manufacturer packaging or bespoke, so it can become part of a complete contamination control solution – something that’s a big part of the Gwalia philosophy which can be encapsulated in the Hybrisphere for total protection against the pandemic as the economy prepares to come out of lockdown”
The growth included diversifying into new services, with the addition of a Decontamination Team that provides 24/7 certified sanitising application to high-profile contracts including the elite sports sector such as Parc-y-Scarlets.
“Increased demand for medical device manufacturing and automation has seen the arrival of 11 new machines and the expansion of the cleanroom facility”
“Our growth and drive for continual improvement has seen us invest heavily in new machinery and cleanroom capability – with 11 new machines arriving here at Treforest. This includes new top of the range Fanuc injection moulding lines to cope with the surging demand for the Geko, a wearable electrostimulation device. In addition, new injection blow moulding and extrusion blow moulding machines are arriving weekly.
These machines are electric rather than hydraulic, making them much more efficient, radically reducing energy consumption. A single electric injection moulding machine, for example, uses 1.4kW of energy every hour, less than half the energy needed to boil a household kettle once! This investment has been vital in enabling us to meet increased demand across all divisions of the business – but it’s also good to know that they’re reducing our carbon footprint too.
“We’ve invested in our Flood Defences, using a Welsh-based expert in the field.”
“As a result of the last year’s flooding, we recognised a need to protect the business by investing in Flood Defences across our facility. These were constructed last autumn by Swansea-based Lakeside Flood Solutions Ltd. and means that all the access points are now protected through a state-of-the-art panel system, as well as two submersible pump systems. It’s given everyone in our team even more confidence for the future – and allows us to focus on delivering to our customers, developing our product offerings and growing our market presence further.”
Rod added; Very few SME’s will have made such progress in the face of massive challenge in just 12 months. All divisions of the business are seeing significant growth as we continue to invest in new capacity, personnel and the facility. In turn this will increase jobs and local supply chains with the hope of bringing health and well-being to our community.”
We look forward to seeing what the next 6 months will bring but things we can be confident of are that; Gwalia will continue to go from strength to strength, and that Rod and his team will do that in a way that’s good for the company, good for the community and good for the environment.