One manufacturer’s take on coping with Covid-19.

How Covid-19 has really tested the resilience of this small hydraulics businesses.

Who could have foreseen that from a market somewhere in Wuhan last December we would find ourselves in the midst of the Corona SARS-CoV-2 pandemic? Or that through 37 years of trading we have seen assorted “crises” and planned for scenarios like fire and flood, yet our biggest upheaval has been plague. The Spanish ‘flu outbreak of 1918 wasn’t really that long ago and that was quite savage, with an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide. That was grandparent and great grandparent era. Were we all just lucky that SARS and H5N1 in recent years did not ravage the world? Maybe we should have flagged up the future risk as much higher.

This time around we face a similar challenge and different countries have taken various courses of action. Only time will tell the strategy that will succeed, but as a society it’s clear we are in a desperate fight to contain the virus,

As a small business, where has this left us and our people? Back in the middle of March, we furloughed our production team for 3 weeks in the interests of protecting our workforce. That was judged essential. But on the same day we received an order more than quadrupling demand for our manual hydraulics used within a medical system, in vital need for the fight against the virus. Our customer reminded us of our duty in stepping up to this challenge and making a difference in the fight. Since then we have had further notifications from other customers that our hydraulics is embedded in systems within utilities and defence applications, and that they need us to be able to continue to supply throughout the duration of the pandemic.

So, what have we done? Three weeks on, we’ve had a brilliant response from most suppliers, despite their own compromised staffing and supply chain issues. Sarum Hydraulics directors have also been assembling equipment during the furlough period- one director relishing actually building up production batches of the kit that he designed. We’re are now running shifts post Easter so that we’re able to maintain safe working and social distancing and get on with manufacture. That seems to be a very good idea. We still face a massive challenge in meeting requirements as like all businesses, we are in strange territory. With the commitment of our suppliers to get components to us and the dedication of our workforce to assemble, test and ship, we will get through this, and in doing so help the cause in our small way.

Sarum Hydraulics has been in the business of design and manufacture of hydraulic equipment since 1986. The Micropac range of hydraulic hand pumps for high pressure hydrostatic testing using water, oil and other specialised fluids have been serving industry worldwide for the duration. Bespoke equipment has always been important for our company, with applications spanning ultra-compact medical hydraulics to hydraulics for valve actuation in extreme environments. We’ve designed products now used in a host of other OEM applications where we’ve been able to provide unique solutions for customers.

We’re passionate about our products and our design capabilities. And we’re proud to find ourselves at the centre of critical medical equipment supply for the NHS!


A thoughtful history of pandemics from the BBC.

Rather a prescient speech by Bill Gates back in 2018