EKF Diagnostics, the global in vitro diagnostics company based in Penarth, announces that it has expanded its production with the introduction of a new manufacturing facility at Llandough Trading Estate, Cardiff. This expansion is to help EKF meet the massive increase in global demand for its PrimeStore® MTM viral transport media, a key component of the COVID-19 testing process.
PrimeStore® MTM allows COVID-19 samples from swabs to be rapidly inactivated in the collection tube, enabling safe transportation and avoiding contamination whilst preserving RNA for accurate analysis without the need for refrigeration.
The new facility is over 600 sq. metres, representing a 100% increase in manufacturing space. Up to 36,000 PrimeStore MTM tubes will be produced at Llandough every day, adding to EKF’s existing manufacturing onsite at Penarth and at its three other facilities in Texas and Indiana in the US, and Barleben, Germany.
EKF engaged only local contractors during the fitting out process and now finished, the new facility at Llandough will provide work for up to 40 staff, operating three tube filling pump lines and three rooms for sample kit assembly. Already EKF has created over 30 new jobs on the production line and in quality assurance, customer services, purchasing, operations and logistics to meet the demand for PrimeStore MTM. EKF expects to employ more staff as it settles into the new facility.
Many of EKF’s new Cardiff-based production facility roles have provided a lifeline for those who had lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Former shop fitting project manager, Craig Tidmas explains, “Last year, following redundancy, I took a position as a Production Operative at EKF assembling COVID-19 testing kits. Due to my previous fitting out experience, I was then asked if I would also take on the role of Project Manager to oversee the fit out of EKF’s new facility. Working in a growing Welsh business and being able to assist in the battle with COVID-19 is a fantastic feeling.”
EKF’s continued growth, has created opportunities for many other new employees from a diverse range of COVID-19 impacted industries. Staff include former hospitality and call centre workers and even a mother and daughter who ran a restaurant business. EKF is also providing a valuable leg-up to those at the start of their careers too, employing a graduate from Cardiff University’s Life Sciences department.
The new manufacturing facility will also become a distribution hub for EKF’s latest portfolio addition, COVID-SeroKlir. COVID-SeroKlir is an antibody test developed by Kantaro Biosciences based on technology from Mount Sinai Health System in New York. It is one of first tests in the world to detect both the presence and precise levels of COVID-19 neutralising antibodies, which is important for monitoring the success of vaccine programmes.
EKF’s CEO Julian Baines commented, “We are proud to be bucking the current employment trend in Wales by taking this strategic decision to increase the size of our manufacturing facilities in Cardiff. We could have stayed in our previous manufacturing space but by moving into larger facilities we have room for growth and can ensure our growing staff numbers can operate in a safe and secure environment.”
He added, “Although COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out, we are still experiencing strong demand from both public and private sector customers for PrimeStore MTM. We are also about to launch our new COVID-19 antibody testing kit which we believe will also be of interest to labs, hospitals and businesses who want to identify which members of staff have antibodies. Those with a high antibody count will have strong resistance to the virus and with regular monitoring can return to the workplace.”
For more information on EKF Diagnostics, see www.ekfdiagnostics.com.