The haze from Indonesia’s forest fires has affected Singapore almost yearly for about two decades. While masks for adults were readily available, there was a shortage of masks for children. A few years back, ST Engineering, better known for its defence and engineering business, therefore took up the challenge of making masks to solve a “national pain point”, recalls CEO Vincent Chong in an interview with The Edge Singapore.

At that time, ST Engineering located its production line in Taiwan which already had an established supply chain of raw materials. The operation, left in the hands of a contractor, hummed along in obscurity until this year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. As countries around the world scrambled for masks, Taiwan slapped a ban on their export. Since ST Engineering could not ship the masks back, it decided to do the next best thing — ship the whole production line back to Singapore instead.

And it only took two weeks for the line to be dismantled, packed, loaded up, sent back to Singapore, and re-assembled to restart production. When pressed for more details, Chong would only say with a slight grimace, “I can’t tell you more, but it was quite a bit of work.”

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