John And Malcolm Hanson

A Rochdale manufacturer has found itself involved in the UK-wide drive to produce 30,000 emergency ventilators to help the NHS deal with coronavirus.

The equipment is critical in the care of some of the most seriously ill coronavirus patients but the spread of Covid-19 has led to a national shortage.

Rochdale-based Hanson Springs has been drafted in to supply specialist springs to JRE Precision, which is one of the companies helping to meet the shortfall of ventilators.

The springs are used in the equipment’s control panels which supply oxygen and will be used directly in treating coronavirus patients.

John Hanson, a director in the family-run business, said they offered to supply the springs to JRE Precision for free once they knew what they were being for but were told that wouldn’t be necessary.

He said: “This is a normal product for us but we only know the end user as our client told us.  Once we knew the importance of them we rushed the production through.

“We are classed as a critical supplier and we will hopefully be operating throughout the shutdown. We have extended our operating times to reduce the number of people on site at any one time, asked people to work from home wherever possible and are muddling through each day like every other business. 

“What allows us to react so quickly is that we hold a vast range of wire sizes and grades in stock, so no matter what the spring design is we can normally accommodate it.”

Hanson Springs was founded in 1963 by John’s father Malcolm and traditionally supplies springs to the oil, gas, nuclear, power generation and flow control industry.

It took the decision to diversify into new products, including providing springs to buildings to make them more resilient to the earthquake.

The move has helped the company report a record turnover of £28m, around 80 per cent of which comes from exports.

John Hanson said once the humanitarian crisis caused by Covid-19 had been dealt with he was hopeful the economy would recover.

“China accounts for 10 per cent of our sales and that’s where coronavirus started,” he said. “The result was we had the impact of low order bookings from China and no payment during late January and February. However our Chinese clients are now thankfully all back to normal and payments are being caught up.

“Even in Italy, where we have 20 per cent of our business in and around Milan in the worst affected region of Lombardy, our clients remained open up to last week.

“My sincere hope is that in eight-10 weeks’ time the world will look a lot better than it does right now.”

Councillor John Blundell, the cabinet member for regeneration, business, skills and employment at Rochdale Borough Council and Rochdale Development Agency board member, said: “I’m really proud to see a Rochdale business turning its talent and expertise to such an important task. Our business community is second to none and the fact that it has responded to this crisis by pulling out all the stops is something that doesn’t surprise me at all. A huge well done to Hanson Springs and keep up the excellent work.”

Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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