What can the Czech Defence and Security Industry Offer the State in Dealing with the Coronavirus Pandemic

 02. 04. 2020      category: Events

Due to the fact that civil protection issues have not been addressed for many years, part of the production capabilities has disappeared from the Czech Republic. Some companies switched to another production, others moved their production to Asian countries, mainly to China. They were compelled to this step by the state's widely used purchases in the form of public tenders. The production costs in Europe are significantly higher than in Asia. Fortunately, many Czech manufacturers have retained their production capability, so they are able to help our country during the current crisis.

HYNEK FOTO
Picture: The Defence and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic (DSIA) president Jiří Hynek | DSIA

One of the traditional manufacturers is Gumárny Zubří. They have a complete program for the production of protective masks, not only the military type, but the currently much-needed civilian masks, which can be used by firefighters, police officers or rescuers. Of course, they will be supplemented with anti-particle filters that can stop the COVID-19 virus.

Filters of all kinds, including the anti-particle types, are manufactured by the AVEC-CHEM company. Although the manufacturer almost exclusively exported until recently, today all of its capacities are devoted to domestic use. In addition to filters, AVEC-CHEM is also able to supply AVEC S-97 half mask respirators.

Another suitable production program in this field are protective suits. The company B.O.I.S. - FILTRY produces breathable protective suits FOP-96. Sadly, this company received the last domestic order in 2014. Overpressure suits can be found also in the EGO Zlín company portfolio. They have been exclusively exported up until now because the Czech Republic was not interested in them. EGO Zlín also manufactures bio-bags and the Military Technical Institute produces bio-boxes, which enable infected patients to be safely transported by standard ambulances. The EVPÚ Defence company, which has so far produced CCTV systems used to guard the borders of not only the Schengen area, offers thermal cameras for the detection of feverish persons. When the camera is pointed towards a crowd, it will show which persons have a fever. 

Many of our members have redirected their production capacities to the production of urgent products much needed for our emergency services. For example, Vakuform, the well-known manufacturer of vacuum plates and fixation mattresses, is currently sewing face masks for the needs of the hospital in Zlín. The company B.O.I.S. - FILTRY is also sewing face masks for the hospital in Blansko and the local IRS units.

The Intercolor company manufactures 100% cotton fabric with antibacterial and antifungal treatment. The ACAVET company offers a very interesting product - a carbon fabric that captures 100% of dirt, bacteria and viruses. This material will, among other things, significantly increase the efficiency of home sewn face masks.

Innovation potential has always thrived in times of crisis. And it is no different today. The MPI company, in collaboration with the composite material manufacturer Compotech, quickly developed a FFP3 shield, and produced a prototype that is currently being tested and certified. In a very short time this product will be marketed. The Czech Technical University in Prague, a member of our Association, has developed a new type of FFP3 respirator and the Naviga4 company, also a member, has a significant share in the production of these respirators through its subsidiary company 3Dees. The company not only supplied the necessary technology for printing, but also coordinates the production in all of the production facilities.

It is also important to decontaminate the affected areas. This is provided by the Dekonta CBRN company, which has great experience and abilities. Czech manufacturers, including Military Technical Institute, BLOCK CRS or Pohorelec, the manufacturer of filter-ventilation devices, are also able to supply equipment for mobile hospitals and other necessary mobile devices. The Gumotex company manufactures inflatable tents that are technically and technologically of a high standard. There was a tender held recently for the purchase of these tents for the armed forces. The current crisis shows that the conditions of the tender clearly preferring a low price were not the happiest.  Who was chosen in the end was an Italian supplier, who may not even be manufacturing in Italy. This proves to be a risk in times of closed borders and export bans. It is good that Gumotex has retained its production capabilities.

Another possible supplier of large-capacity tents is SVITAP J.H.J. The TATRA trucks will also find their place in the crisis as logistics vehicles, along with for example container superstructure manufacturers or AGADOS and their new field kitchen. What is important for solving the current pandemic is to have information and to be able to evaluate it well, which can be done by the software applications by the TOVEK company. There is a lot that the Czech defence and security industry can offer the state in dealing with the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The current crisis will bring us valuable experience and help us put our values in order. What we experience will help us prepare better for the next time. It is already clear that the only thing that works at least a little is when the control is in the hands of the nation states, not the supranational organizations. It turns out that ignoring our own industrial capacities at the expense of globalization is a security risk. On the other hand, the willingness of people and companies to contribute their skills and work is a promise for the future.

 Author: Jiří Hynek