Today’s manufacturers are accustomed to innovating, adapting to change, and acting quickly. So, it’s no surprise that many are setting aside business objectives to manufacture products that will help save lives and create a safer environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With competitive barriers down, companies in the automotive, aerospace, food & beverage, and other industries are working to produce medical devices and supplies to help protect people and diagnose and treat infected patients.
Many prefer to do so without being called out by name. Fluke Reliability thanks these manufacturers across the globe ̶ many of them eMaint, PRUFTECHNIK, and Fluke Connect customers ̶ for transforming operations and, in many cases, sacrificing profits to make critical life-saving products. Here are just a few.
Face shields and masks
One of the world’s best-known athletic shoe and sports apparel manufacturers is collaborating with a West Coast university to produce face shields. The sportswear maker’s production teams are adapting its footwear and clothing materials such as padding and cording to make the personal protective equipment (PPE) shields. The company is also creating powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses.
Producing face shields is also a priority for plastics product manufacturing teams at the Fluke Corporation. These workers are repurposing machines to mold face shield parts, including the plastic screen and the straps that hold the device in place. Typically, the machines are used to make parts for Fluke multimeters, calibrators, and other testing and measurement tools. The assembled face shields are being donated to area hospitals and senior care facilities on the West Coast.
On the East Coast, another Fluke team is creating face shield extenders using 3D printing technology and is also donating them to healthcare workers.
Due to a severe shortage, manufacturers are also rushing to produce more N95 face masks. The N95 is particularly effective in protecting frontline healthcare workers from coronavirus infection. In the interim, Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP) is extending the life of available masks by applying a reprocessing protocol to its Sterrad Systems sterilizer. The sterilizer is used to clean surgical instruments by many hospitals worldwide. The new process enables the normally single-use N95 masks to be disinfected twice and worn again after each cleaning.
To help keep its production teams safe, a Kentucky-based spirit and wine company enlisted its R&D team to alter distillery operations to make much-needed hand sanitizer in addition to its famous whiskey. The company is donating hand sanitizer to healthcare workers in nearby counties.
Healthy, safer food
An Illinois-based vending machine company that produces nutritious meals for stocking automated, easy to clean touch-screen refrigerators is expanding operations. The organization is increasing the number of vending machines at its hospital locations by adding mini-fridges to ensure frontline healthcare workers have access to fresh and healthy food options.
Containers for disinfectants
A large container-making company that manufactures bottles for the world’s most popular soft drink maker is adding another type of bottle to its production line. The organization is applying its injection and blow molding process to produce containers to hold cleaning products needed for sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces in homes and hospitals.
Individuals severely infected with the virus sometimes need help breathing and must be put on a ventilator. Because of the number of seriously ill patients, the increased demand has caused shortages.
Two of the country’s largest automobile manufacturers are partnering with other industries, such as aerospace, to produce ventilator prototypes. They are also working with 3D printing companies to create ventilator parts to increase the availability of critical life support machines.
Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and commercial manufacturers are supplying diagnostic tests across the United States. In collaboration with the Department of Defense, a global industry leader in the development of syndromic infectious disease diagnostics has created a test to detect SARS-CoV-2, the agent that causes COVID-19. A syndromic approach is a new line of attack against infectious diseases, using a single test for all the microorganisms most commonly responsible for an infectious disease.
These tests use a nasal swab to determine the presence of the virus and can do so in about 45 minutes. This is the second of three tests being developed by the company for diagnostic use in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The test kits must be packaged in protective material. Any manufactured medical device must adhere to strict guidelines, including test kits. Thankfully, a company well-known for its engineered flexible materials is switching gears to create kit packaging that meets regulatory requirements.
Manufacturers like these are playing a vital role in fighting the spread of the deadly virus. Their usual product outputs, in many cases, have taken a backseat in this effort to help save lives.
(Note: The Fluke Corporation and Advanced Sterilization Products are both owned by Fortive.)