Covid-19 Response – UK Industry at its Collaborative Best

One of NEAA’s newest members Spitfire Consultancy & Training Ltd, have shared their involvement in key areas of the Coronavirus response as the government called UK companies to arms!

“At Spitfire we have been actively involved in three key area of the Covid-19 response, these being:

  • The VentilatorChallengeUK
  • NHS Grade Face Visor Production
  • Increased food production to NHS hospitals

In all these cases we were asked to utilise our extensive expertise in ramping up production at a greater efficiency, with increased quality whilst reducing overall cost.”

Kevin Jones – Partner – Spitfire Consultancy & Training Ltd

Spitfire Involvement Summary



  • A consortium of significant UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors came together to produce medical ventilators for the UK.
  • The VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium is led by Dick Elsy, CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a group of manufacturing research centres in the UK.
  • Companies in the consortium received formal orders from the Government for in excess of 15,000 units. • The consortium accelerated production of two agreed designs, based on existing technologies, which were assembled from materials and parts in current production.
  • The companies involved took many of their people from key company projects to do this and serve the national need.
  • The critical demand meant that everything had to be carried out at a very high pace with readily available resources in terms of expertise, equipment and labour.

Spitfire Involvement:

As time was of the essence Spitfire were asked by one of the major manufacturing sites to assist with the development of the ‘pop up’ production line to increase quality of product and line efficiency. We carried out on-line investigative work with area engineers, supervisors and team leaders to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions to improve product flow and increase daily output.

The next challenge was to achieve consistency of build via a workforce who had no experience of the product, its intricate array of parts and criticality of quality on a life or death device; all of this with a transient workforce of volunteers across shifts.

This challenge was attacked via the introduction of very detailed Standardised Work via the traditional but very enhanced ‘Standard Operation’ coupled with, on very critical operations, by the use of a Visual Manual which is an electronic, interactive autonomous training portal that leads to accelerated learning and consistency of product. The Visual Manual was particularly useful in the training of essential volunteers with no previous manufacturing experience.

The required 15,000+ Ventilators have been delivered and are now all available to the NHS but we sincerely hope that they will never be needed.

Face Visor Production

The lack of PPE across the UK has been widely publicised and this led to our involvement in the acceleration of facemask manufacture which came as result of the company involved receiving an order for circa 20 Million NHS grade Face Visors in the shortest time possible.

The challenge here was a one of capacity as the existing infrastructure could not produce the products in the timeframe given, and this resulted in a plan to re-locate production to a new site and the purchase of new machinery that would allow a vastly increased output.

We supported the development of the new factory layout to optimize efficiency from raw material in to product out, this design work was coupled with the development of shop floor operating practices to assure quality, cost and delivery of the masks whilst taking care of and developing staff.

The output from the new factory has commenced and we are now embedding the staff into the facility to increase efficiency even further and guarantee the supply of this essential equipment for years to come.

Food Production

The Covid-19 pandemic led to an enormous and rapid strain on NHS supply chain capacity. As a key food supplier to the NHS and other private healthcare sectors, our client needed to rapidly scale up to satisfy a sharp increase of over 30% in demand for its chilled and frozen products.

In order to meet this demand increase, special intervention and action was required. In a time where all employees were understandably concerned for their own wellbeing, this intervention would require strong situational leadership, ensuring that the ‘team’ were fully supported in every way.

Spitfire were engaged to Project Manage the delivery of ‘quick win’ capacity improvement actions across the Value Stream key process areas with focused improvements also in Production Planning and Engineering.

Through a 6-week period of both on-site and remote support, Spitfire delivered 31 key improvement actions, implemented Short Interval Control and other Visual Controls to support real time production decision making. The outcome was that our client successfully increased supply to meet the NHS demand.

About Spitfire

We’ve been around since 2004 and continue to be different. During that time the world has changed, and we have evolved too. Today, businesses are facing unique and historic challenges. The need to adapt, innovate, rethink, rebuild and grow by harnessing the capabilities of people has never been greater.

At Spitfire we firmly believe People Transform Performance, therefore our focus is to make you ‘The ‘Best you can Be’.

We work globally helping clients unlock potential to accelerate growth, build resilience and agility to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Together we achieve exceptional results with positive lasting impact on more than the bottom line.

We do this by a unique combination of thought leadership and hands on support with Strategy Development, Performance Delivery and inspirational Coaching to help you to challenge, develop and achieve your goals.

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