Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Manufacturing

The world needs more PPE - here's how companies responded.

Introduction

Though the unprecedented pandemic brought the economy to a halt and the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) spiked, many manufacturing companies adapted to the global crisis at hand.

A Change in Direction

58Gin, a distillery in London, had to manufacture hand sanitizer to stay in business in a crashing economy. Vacuum-making company Dyson took an order of 10,000 ventilators. Many companies in similar situations had to adapt with other necessary PPE for the sake of their business and might as well help front line workers at the same time. Even the Royal Mint, which generally produces coins, helped produce plastic visors for UK Healthcare staff and car developers General Motors and SGMW started making surgical masks from medical grade textiles used in cars.

“We set the task and within 48 hours they’d developed a design which could be mass-produced, and began testing it for NHS use,” Leighton John, the director of the Royal Mint, shows how fast manufacturers need to rebrand and change to stay in business.

Miller, Norman. “How Factories Change Production to Quickly Fight Coronavirus.” BBC Worklife, 12 Apr. 2020, www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200413-how-factories-change-production-to-quickly-fight-coronavirus

Successes and Hardships

As much as manufacturing plays an important part in supplying the world with the tools to fight the pandemic, some companies had trouble switching due to a new industry introducing its different processes and lack of materials. These issues can be solved with alternative manufacturing processes like additive manufacturing or 3D printing: these processes have risen in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as companies make the shift to create essential prototypes and products.

Cohen, Jennifer, and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers. “Contributing Factors to Personal Protective Equipment Shortages during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Preventive Medicine, Elsevier Inc., 2 Oct. 2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7531934

No Supply, No Lifeline

It’s thanks to companies like these that front line workers are able to fight COVID-19 without being in risk of contracting it. Without a proper supply, the demand will see a shortage, and no one needs to point out that’s a bad thing. With more companies helping the cause by the day, the closer we get back to a normal life.

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