Left reeling by the Coronavirus outbreak in China, Melbourne’s FloatPac Group has pivoted its R&D and manufacturing capabilities towards creating temporary structures for the front-line of COVID-19 testing, treatment, assessment and management.
“We’re seeing unprecedented global demand for temporary structures which, research showed, Australia mainly imports rather than manufactures. Throw into the mix the fact that global transport is severely restricted and the Australian dollar has collapsed against the USD, and you really do have a perfect storm.
“Australia needed a locally manufactured solution,” says CEO Gavin Hodgins, “so we developed the IsoTent”.
Makers of marine-grade inflatables for over 40 years, the FloatPac group saw an opportunity to use their leading-edge design and manufacturing expertise to support healthcare workers, businesses and government as they seek to flatten the curve.
“Pop-up structures are crucial in the battle against COVID-19,” Gavin says. “Being inflatable, they’re quick to install, easy to transport and cost-effective – key strengths when time is of the essence, and contact management so vital.”
“Coronavirus has taken a great deal from us all – most particularly the sense of being able to ‘help’ or control our own destiny. While locking down is the most important thing we can all do, as an organisation we had an opportunity to respond in a practical way.
“Of course, it’s not wholly altruistic – we have a business family to protect. We’re looking down the barrel ourselves, with our business facing its toughest test in its 40-year history.
“While all our brands are suffering, the FishPac arm – our air transportation system for live fish – was totally decimated by February’s unfolding crisis. As China shut down, so did FishPac.
“Like so many businesses across Australia, we don’t know when – or if – we will be able to regroup. But what we do know is, right now we have the skills and experience to deliver a product that will provide Governments and hospitals around Australia with the shelter they desperately need.
“This episode also serves as a salutary reminder of how important our manufacturing backbone is to this nation. It’s time to bring more of it home.”
Notes to editors:
IsoTent will be available in the coming weeks, with the first batch due mid-April. At this stage, the firm could produce 60 -70 units per week however, if demand requires, that could be ramped up. Benefits: They are self-erecting, so easier to install, can be deployed very quickly, are easy to transport and smaller and lighter to transport than traditional tents.
FloatPac comprises four brands under the one parent company; FloatPac Solar, FishPac, Flexitank and RainPac. The firm is continuing to seek development partnerships with the Australian Government, University Research Departments, as well as relevant private sector companies who are seeking to become stakeholders in this ongoing project.