A collaboration between two north east firms has boosted manufacturing capacity of premium-grade hand sanitiser as demand continues to soar.
Arbroath-based chemical manufacturer Stakam modified its production facility to manufacture NHS approved hand sanitisers at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The firm says it also become the first in Scotland with the ability to manufacture the polymer to thicken liquid hand gel.
Its collaboration with an Aberdeen firm has seen production climb from 500 litres to a recent order of 10,000 litres.
Stakam managing director Alastair Watson said: “At the start of the pandemic, like a lot of chemical companies, we were getting a lot of requests for hand gel.
“It wasn’t a core product for us, but our supplier introduced us to Palm Safe in Aberdeen who producing premium hand-gel but were constrained by manufacturing capacity.
“Palm Safe were making their gel in five-litre batches and demand was outstripping supply and we decided to collaborate on the project.
“We took their formulation and made a pilot batch of 500 litres in October and we have since increased that to 3,500 litre batches.
“It’s proving to be a very popular product and in one weekend Palm Safe sold out of the large batch we had made.”
Marko Steiger of Palm Safe, which adds scents and colours to the base product from Stakam, said demand for gels that were not made from ingredients which can be harsh on skin with repeated use was increasing.
He said: “The vast majority of hand sanitisers are manufactured using ethanol which is easy to produce by anyone who manufactures alcohol.
“However, this dries out the skin, often has a very liquid consistency and can leave a strong alcohol odour on the hands.
“We use isopropyl combined with aloe vera which produces a better gel consistency, evaporates quickly and moisturises the skin.
“We are seeing a lot of customers who need to use sanitiser repeatedly through their work, such as NHS staff and teachers.
“Sanitisers are here to stay and products are evolving away from the very basic formulas that simply do the job, into more premium gels that can be used longer term.
“We are currently running two shifts to cope with demand and our latest order from Stakam was for 10,000 litres last month – we are also looking to take on 10 new staff through the government’s kick start scheme.”
Founded in 2016, craft chemical and polymer production company Stakam recently moved to larger premises in Arbroath from its previous base in Montrose following two major contract wins with a combined value of £1.5 million.
The company manufactures and supplies products into the oil and gas sector as well as polymers for the construction industry.
In the space of 12 months, the firm has increased its headcount from two, up to around nine staff, including the addition of an extra chemical engineer, chemical operator and an administrative staff member within the last three months.
Mr Watson said the firm was currently working on a number of new products and was also looking at expanding the business with the addition of a new manufacturing facility.