When supermarket shelves across the country were suddenly bare — and people were clamoring for essentials like toilet paper — everyone learned a little more than they wanted to about the importance of supply chains.
One item that also became a hot commodity when the SARS-CoV-2 virus began spreading? Swabs. In response, COPAN quickly began working around-the-clock expanding production, adding manufacturing shifts, boosting both employee numbers and hours and opening new factories. All those efforts resulted in the tripling of COVID-related production in 2020, with the goal of reaching one billion of each flocked and classic swabs, along with half a billion tubes of transport media in 2021.
“We’ve produced a video that focuses on the criticality of supply chains and highlights our behind-the-scenes global effort,” said COPAN Group’s CEO Stefania Triva. “In the face of this deadly pandemic, COPAN managed to successfully ramp up and to simultaneously expand to new facilities in Italy, California and Puerto Rico. We evolved mainly from manufacturing in Italy to expanding production for the Americas and our worldwide customers.”
At COPAN’s Italian headquarters, production was more than doubled at the beginning of the pandemic. This was made possible by hiring more staff, from 700 to 1,000, and advancing production to a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week manufacturing schedule. COPAN Italia also increased its investments in all aspects of production, including flocking machines, media filling, plastic molding and sterile packaging.
In order to make space for this boom in production, COPAN’s WASP® and WASPLab® assembly line was moved to a new site, freeing up more than 43,000 square feet for pandemic-related production. An additional 110,000 square feet have been allocated to a spacious warehouse and a new technological workshop. Another 45,000 square-foot production site, slated to open in mid- 2021, will bring the total Italian area dedicated to production to 440,000 square feet.
Across the Atlantic, to ramp up UTM Universal Transport Medium® production in the United States — thanks to a generous grant and strategic partnership — COPAN expanded to a new 38,000 square-foot facility in Carlsbad, California. The expansive space, which joins the company’s original site in Murrieta, California, has given COPAN the power to produce UTM® in the United States from a former capacity of several thousand collection systems per week to more than 840,000 a week, all within a few months.
In order to keep up, the employee count in California jumped from 42 to 300, with more than 170 new jobs created at the new Carlsbad production site. In this expanded facility, COPAN was able to produce more than 10 million UTM Universal Transport Medium® and millions of collection swabs in 2020.
Puerto Rico is another area across the sea that benefited from this extensive ramp-up. By retooling the 160,000 square-foot facility, specifically to produce COVID-related products and flocked swabs, COPAN has been able to not only provide more critical collection systems, but the increase in production has led to an influx of jobs in the United States territory.
By investing in both Europe and the United States, even during this devastating pandemic, COPAN has managed to increase employment opportunities, while supplying the world with the critical collection and transport systems needed for SARS-CoV-2 testing.