• Meuse-Rhine Gazette

FFP2 face masks to be mass-produced in EMR

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

Tucked away along the Rijksweg in Wittem (NL), is Boogaard Textiles. You may not have heard the name, however chances are that you have used or seen one of their products, wherever you are in the world. And now, they are about to change the global face mask production industry. Another Euregio Meuse-Rhine based company, breaking down borders.

Boogaard Textiles produces both high-run and one-off bespoke promotional products such as beanbags, parasols, outdoor furniture, soft furnishings and clothing. Among their clients are the world’s leading consumer brands, food producers and beverage giants. Facing an uncertain time due to the COIVD-19 coronavirus pandemic “delay phase” measures where their clients’ activities in the hospitality industry have been significantly restricted, Boogaard Textiles have adapted at speed and, utilising their industry expertise, network and skillset, formed Team Limburgse Mondkapjes –TLM (Limburg Face Mask Team).

The Boogaard expert team of machinists’ restless hands will now partly go to work on the production of medical grade FFP2 face masks. Owner Nikolaj Boogaard: “The knife cuts both ways for us. We are not looking to profit from the situation, but to keep the business going. At the same time, we can make ourselves useful in this time of crisis.”

Together with Cyrille Depondt from Dutch Screening Group and Richard Ramakers from Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials – AMIBM, also based in the EMR, TLM currently consists of approximately fifty employees. Every effort is being made to get everything up and running within sixty days; so that three million face masks a week can roll off the production line. Employees set to their daily tasks in hazmat suits in a specialised cleanroom with not a speck of dust in sight.

According to Boogaard, this is not going to be a temporary situation. “We are in consultation with the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. TLM is in the race to become a long-term supplier to the government.”

“As a company, we are used to responding quickly and flexibly to the needs of the industry. You have to, because the demand for our products is always very expansive. Our products range from bean bags, hammocks, chairs, to, you name it. Normal production mainly consists of larger products; however, making small face masks is no problem for us.”

Co-production is a new way of working for the Limburg entrepreneur. According to Boogaard, it offers great advantages. “AMIBM is well aware of all standards and regulations that apply to FFP2 face masks. That increases the speed in which we are able to attain the required certification. As a company, we are familiar with this. Our customers already include major global food and beverage manufacturers. Before we develop and produce items for them, they are extensively tested and certified in advance. The face masks will undergo the same quality control.”

The demand for medical grade FFP2 face masks is soaring across the EMR and across Europe. Deliveries from international suppliers have brought some relief, however there have been thousands of face masks that have had to be returned due to the fact they are not meeting EU medical compliance standards. Having access to these life-saving medical supplies right here in the EMR will see a major turn in the capacity with which our medical organisations can care for their patients, while ensuring our healthcare workers are protected. In turn, Belgian and German authorities are recommending residents consider using face masks once social distancing measures are eased, so domestic demands could potentially soar in the next few months. Watch this space.

Photos: Boogaard Textiles

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