The production of millions of medical-grade face masks for the Australian and international markets has begun at a new, state-of-the-art factory at Campbellfield.

Privately owned Melbourne company Softmed fast-tracked its new production line to meet the needs of the Victorian population after parts of the state re-entered lockdown due to a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an incredibly exciting time,” says Softmed general manager Sergiy Tsimidanov.

“We are able to produce millions of high-quality, medical grade face masks and other PPE at a time people need reassurance that they will be wearing a high-quality product.”

The factory will begin by producing a minimum of 180 million three-ply surgical masks and 60 million P2/N95 standard respirators a year, supplying to the Australian market as well as the USA, Europe and the Middle East.

Softmed is committeed to delivering as much of the PPE supply chain as possible from Australian-made product and raw materials. It will allow the company to produce not only masks and respirators but Australian-made gowns, shoe covers, hats, sheets and other single-use PPE products to meet the needs of the medical sector.

Softmed is also commissioning a high-tech testing lab to quality-assure all products. The lab is currently undergoing NATA certification.

And in a boost to the local economy, the factory will employ up to 70 people when it hits full capacity later this year.

“This factory is absolutely state of the art and we have been working tirelessly over the apst few weeks to make it a reality,” Tsimidanov says.

“What should have taken a year, we’ve done in a matter of months. Anyone wearing a Softmed mask can be confident that they have a product that has been designed to the required standards in Australia.”

Softmed is a privately-owned company whose two partners have deep experience in logistics and procurement of health products.

Before opening the factory, Softmed used its international expertise to bring millions of face masks into the country to help meet demand.

“Softmed has been delivering face masks and respirators for use by Chemist Warehouse customers needing protection since the very beginning of this pandemic,” says Chemist Warehouse director of retail Mario Tascone.

At the height of global COVID-19 export restrictions, Softmed was the only company to obtain a licence to export raw materials and PPE to Australia from Brazil. It was also able to secure PPE products from international suppliers, chartering foreign cargo flights to maintain supply for all Australians.

“Knowing Softmed will be manufacturing in Australia and controlling almost the entire supply chain is very reassuring,” Tascone says.

“The company is implementing the highest standards of manufacturing to their masks, which means every Australian can have confidence both in the supply and quality of Softmed masks.”

With the advent of Softmed’s Campbellfield complex, Australia’s PPE supply chain will be further strengthened and local product guaranteed.

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