By: Mike McNulty
RUBBER & PLASTICS NEWS
July 9, 2014
Avon Protection Systems Inc. has been awarded another sizable contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to produce the firm's M50 mask systems.
The U.S. manufacturing arm of Melksham, England-headquartered Avon Rubber P.L.C. will produce 135,000 M50 mask systems at its Cadillac, Mich., plant, according to a spokeswoman for Avon.
The mask’s plastic components, representing about 5 percent of the system’s dollar value, are produced by small businesses in the U.S. and at the company’s United Kingdom headquarters.
Injection molded plastic components on the M50 include the front module, front module cover, filter mount, canteen cap, drink coupler and head harness buckles.
Value of the pact was estimated at $33 million and falls under the additional requirements option of a 10-year sole source U.S. Joint Services General Purpose Mask program contract the firm has with the defense department.
Production of the mask and components will commence in the near future, the spokeswoman said. The pact will provide Avon with continuous production of masks for the remainder of the financial year, she said, and “will give us good order coverage into 2015.”
“This U.S. order demonstrates the DOD's continued commitment to Avon's market leading high technology M50 mask to meet their complex operational requirements,” according to Peter Slabbert, chief executive of Avon Rubber.
Avon Protection's Cadillac facility houses a number of highly automated manufacturing processes, including those for the M50 mask's visor and its unique twin conformal filters, the spokeswoman noted.
She said the plant will not need to add additional personnel or machinery to help handle production of the rubber masks.
While the mask systems, including the pair of filters, will be made at the Cadillac factory, she said, some of the minor components and accessories will be sourced from local suppliers.
Avon's M50 chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protective mask system was developed to counter multiple threats encountered in modern warfare and peacekeeping operations, the spokeswoman said.
“It provides high protection against traditional chemical warfare agents, radioactive dusts, biological threats and a wide range of toxic industrial chemicals.”
Using the latest digital design technologies and the company's materials expertise, she said, the M50 provides several unique features.
A cast flexible visor offers wide, optically correct vision and is impact and scratch resistant, she said.
“Close fitting, curved conformal filters offer improved weight distribution and reduced breathing resistance, as well as enhanced protection against toxic industrial agents,” according to the spokeswoman.
“An integrated Electronic Communication Port allows for an internal microphone used for communication systems,” she said.
The company also manufactures the M53 mask, which is based on the M50 system.
The M53 system meets the U.S. Government Joint Services General Purpose Mask requirement for all military branches, and was developed to fill the varied requirements of special operation units.
In 2013, Avon was awarded a $6.7 million contract by the U.S. military to develop a modified version of the M53 CBRN protective mask system to provide protection to a wide range of operators in fixed wing aircraft. The project was launched in early August and is expected to be finalized in 2017.
Plastics News reporter Kerri Jansen contributed to this article.