How the metalworking industry is reacting to the global crisis
How is the metalworking industry reacting to COVID-19? Each day, we will update our news coverage to bring you the latest information on how the workforce, manufacturers, and associations are responding to the global crisis. From company-wide operational shifts to new inventions that are helping to combat Coronavirus, we will provide insights into the industry as it stands today.
May 27, 2020
As the manufacturing industry prepares to go back to business, manufacturers are called to lead and respond quickly to the multiple challenges that they will face over the next months.
Reopening, however, requires detailed planning and a complete understanding of the requirements demanded by governments.
Among the many companies that invested capital and resources to keep the supply chain activities and support local communities, Lockheed Martin definitely stands out. The aerospace accelerated $307 million to 1,900 supply chain partners to promote a healthy defense industrial base, hired more than 3,600 new employees across the United States since the COVID-19 crisis began and continues to donate corporate air support to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As we navigate through this disruptive period, it’s natural to ask: “when will we return to normal? And what adjustments are needed to accommodate this ‘new normal’?” With these questions, comes the uncertainty of what this new normal will look like and what actions we will need to take. While the extent and permanency of these changes are unclear, change is coming without a doubt in both our work and personal lives.
But change presents an opportunity. And, retrospectively, strong leaders don’t just accommodate change, they embrace it. Strong leaders also don’t merely adjust to the new normal, they create it.
May 26, 2020
It is no secret that 3D printing has been the leading technology in the fight against COVID-19. Several initiatives have been springing up at different universities and community makers spaces around the United States, unified by the common goal of manufacturing PPE for healthcare workers. Timothy W. Simpson, Paul Morrow Professor of Engineering Design & Manufacturing at Pennsylvania State University, gives a quick overview of how it feels to be part of one of these initiatives.
Steel production fell to 137.1 million metric tons during April 2020, down -6.9% from March and -13.05% from April 2019, as a result of the widespread plant shutdowns in Asia, North America, and Europe implemented to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. steelmakers produced 4.97 million metric tons (5.48 million short tons) during April, which is 28.98% less than the March total and 32.47% less than the April 2019 result. For the year-to-date, U.S. producers’ raw-steel output stands at 26.68 million metric tons (29.4 million short tons), or -9.6% lower than the 2019 four-month total.
Why Skilled Trades Can Lead The Jobs Recovery And Enjoy A Brighter Future – Klein Tools’ Front-line Insights
“As the aftershock of the pandemic reshapes the labor market starting from extremely high unemployment levels, faster growth of opportunities in skilled trades might attract a lot more people to those careers; this could accelerate the recovery, reduce the skills gap and help put the US economy on a more solid and resilient growth path.” Marco Annunziata, senior contributor at Forbes, explains why blue-collar jobs could be the key to restart the US economy.
May 22, 2020
Coming to the aid of a medical system crushed worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic, ANCA, the Australian manufacturer of CNC machines, has joined an important consortium to rapidly manufacture invasive ventilators within Australia. ANCA’s dedicated project team will draw on the skills and experience of engineers and manufacturing production teams to support this venture while maintaining business-as-usual production, service, and support for its global customers.
“This is a global emergency and in my view it is incumbent on every individual in every organization to do everything they can to help deal with it. And in the case of ANCA, we have capabilities that are a good match and it’s the right thing to do. We are very good at manufacturing the kind of parts that are needed for ventilators and it is a really great way for us as an organization to give something back to the community,” said ANCA Group CEO, Chris Hegarty.
The metalworking industry continues to face the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic crisis that is affecting the entire world. The latest release of the Gardner Business Index (GBI): Metalworking reported back-to-back monthly all-time lows as it fell to 34.4, surpassing the prior all-time low by nearly 10 points. The index indicates that business conditions of the metalworking industry are contracting, mostly due to a reduction in new orders and production volume.
After shutting down the production in March, Harley-Davidson Inc. is resuming production at its U.S. manufacturing plants.
The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company was forced to close its plants in March after an employee at its factory in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, tested positive for the coronavirus. Harley-Davidson also saw motorcycle sales drop in the economic fallout from COVID-19. The company has begun a planned phased approach to resuming production in its facilities, “following the guidelines of public health and regulatory authorities and keeping employee health and safety front and center.”
May 21, 2020
QRC, Inc., a California-based metalworking company specialized in the production of racing parts, came up with an innovative solution to keep the business open. The shop went from making parts for racing karts to making sneeze barriers for local businesses.
“It’s just taken off and you know, it’s been pretty much our focal point since we were unable to go racing and our business was pretty much shut down from that,” says Darryl Fogarty, sales manager for QRC.
QRC has distributed its product throughout various locations around the area in places like Redding, Red bluff, and Corning.
Just as the pandemic has shut many industries down across the country, others have had to push through in order to keep the country running. In Bay County, major manufacturing facilities like Berg Pipe and Oceaneering can be found at Port Panama City; these two facilities employ nearly five hundred people in Bay County and surrounding areas, and they’ve kept everyone on board during the pandemic.
“It’s just one more hurdle to jump over,” said Hicks. “Our employees have been willing to do the work, and we’re willing to make it as safe as we can for them, and that’s why we’ve been able to keep running.”
It only took a few days for Ford to hit the first bump on the reopening road. After finding out that one worker tested positive for COVID-19, the automaker was forced to shut down its F-150 plant in Dearborn, Michigan. Additionally, Ford’s Chicago plant—which makes the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator—had to close down twice in the same day after two COVID-19 cases were discovered at a nearby parts-assembly facility. That plant too was back in action by Wednesday night. As cases like continue to happen with the progressive reopening of manufacturing plants, automakers and other manufacturers will have to constantly adjust to identify the best practices to resume without causing more deaths, illnesses and disruptions to the business.
May 20, 2020
AMT, the association behind the organization of IMTS, is planning to meet with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to receive some clarity and clear direction for how the state is moving forward for hosting trade shows. The AMT Board of Directors and AMT staff continue to work closely and evaluate the impact COVID-19 has had on AMT members, IMTS exhibitors, and the industry. Check back here for the latest updates about the show.
OPEN MIND’s popular CAM software is proving to be very helpful in the fight against COVID-19. Hypermill functionalities are helping Maztech Precision Engineering, a CNC machining shop involved in the Coronavirus ventilator project, producing 7,500 aluminum tube manifold components quickly and efficiently.
“The tube manifold is a relatively simple 3-axis part, but with such quantities, we needed to design new fixturing to conduct multiple set-up machining. Using the Linear Pattern feature in Hypermill, we have been able to effectively ‘copy and paste’ the machining cycle from one position to the next on our machining centers.”
Rolls-Royce announced its plans to cut 9,000 jobs globally as a result of the drastic reduction in air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The engine manufacturer employs 52,000 people overall and didn’t specify which regions would take the hardest blow. Rolls-Royce warned earlier this month that flying hours for its engines dived by 90% in April.
“This is not a crisis of our making. But it is the crisis that we face, and we must deal with it,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East. “Our airline customers and air-frame partners are having to adapt and so must we.”
May 19, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the volumes of plant waste across all industrial sectors, including manufacturing. Many items that were easily disposed before are identified as hazardous now. Manufacturers that typically do not deal with infectious or biohazardous waste may not have a clear protocol or response plan. Manufacturing waste and current waste-disposal plans do not necessarily touch on what to do in such a situation. However, some existing resources can help business leaders figure out the next steps to take.
Some sectors of the Massachusetts economy can start to reopen today after manufacturing and construction businesses deemed non-essential were cleared to resume operations with restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, state officials said on Monday.
“Today, as we start the phased return to our new normal, we are going to ask people once again to rise to the occasion as we continue to fight this virus,” Gov. Charlie Baker said during comments at the State House on the state’s reopening plans.
In March 2020, real cutting tool orders were $189.8 million, which was the fourth time in five months that orders were below $190 million. Compared with one year ago, cutting tool orders contracted -10.8%, which marked the 13th consecutive month of month-over-month contraction. In four of the last five months, orders have contracted faster than 9.5%. The annual rate of change contracted at an accelerating rate for the sixth month. The annual rate of contraction was 7.0%, which was the fastest rate of contraction since October 2016.
May 18, 2020
As lockdown restrictions are gradually starting to ease up, metalworkers and other manufacturers are beginning to resume their operation. Additional safety measures, however, are required to prevent a new COVID-19 surge. The White House has published initial “Opening Up America Again” guidelines to help state and local officials plan for and implement reopening of businesses and public life, but navigating the intricate landscape of local safety regulation might still be complicated for many businesses. Here are some things to keep in mind as different areas go through different stages of opening and, potentially, closing again due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the many issues that the coronavirus pandemic and the consequent global crisis exposed, the vulnerabilities of the manufacturing industry and the fragility of the global supply chain. The shortages of materials and parts needed to make ventilators and PPE faced both by the United States and European countries are an evident sign that price-based supply chains are unreliable and are leading manufacturers worldwide to revisit their production strategies. So, what will change about the supply chain of the post-virus business world? Let’s take a look.
According to a recent survey, reshoring and automation have both gained traction during a time when the global supply chain is stressed. 64% of the interviewed manufacturers stated they are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to North America, and 25% of them are considering expanding industrial automation as a result of COVID-19. The survey also showed that the majority of manufacturers have adapted quickly to changing circumstances. This often means changing the products that are getting produced. The ability for manufacturers to retain more than 50% of their demand shows they are able to adapt quickly to a changing environment.
May 15, 2020
On March 30th the residents at Massachusetts General Hospital, together with Stratasys and Ximedica, launched the CoVent-19 challenge, an initiative aiming at developing a simple, easy to manufacture ventilator design. After reviewing over 213 designs, the sponsor selected seven teams to participate in the Round 2. The finalists will have to submit prototypes must be by June 1, when the winning design will be announced. Complete design details are available at GrabCAD. (All images were downloaded from the CoVent-19 website.)
As more businesses prepare to restart operations under very different working conditions, the nuclear industry’s established safety culture could provide a model for other sectors.
In this article from The Manufacturer, Huw Jenkins, industrial advisor at the Nuclear AMRC, introduces the essential attitudes and behaviors for a safe return to work.
Historically, certain industries within manufacturing tend to be very sensitive to recessions; others are nearly recession-proof. Will the COVID-19 recessions will have a different impact that the previous ones? Here are a few considerations.
May 14, 2020
The additive manufacturing industry has been one of the leading industries in the effort of fighting the pandemic and providing support to health organizations. Where supplies of personal protection equipment were scarce, the AM industry got to business and supplied hundreds of thousands of PPE for health care workers. Where ventilators were in short supply or not functioning, AM stepped in with innovative solutions. Stories of AM’s role began appearing in March, and they have not stopped. In case you missed some of them, here are some of the most remarkable examples of how 3D printing technology is helping to fight COVID-19.
The effects of the coronavirus and the changes in supply and demand for safety and janitorial products are continuing to disrupt supply chains worldwide. MSC Industrial Supply, one of the largest distributors of metalworking and industrial maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) products, is one of the most evident cases. The distributor reported an “unusually large gap” between orders and invoices as year-over-year net sales declined in March and April while orders for safety and janitorial products increased significantly.
The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to disrupt manufacturing and supply chains, with severe consequences for society, businesses, consumers, and the global economy.
As the effects of coronavirus unfold, companies are asking what short-term actions they need to take to ensure business continuity and protect their employees. How should they be preparing for the rebound and increasing their manufacturing and supply systems’ resilience? The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Kearney, brought together senior-level executives from various industry sectors to identify the best response to the COVID-19 crisis.
May 13, 2020
Will the largest manufacturing trade show in the United States still happen? The show, scheduled to take place in Chicago in September, is at risk of being canceled in light of the recent reopening plans announced by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker’s plan would, in fact, not permit conventions to be held until major milestones, such as a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19 are achieved. While an industry group has reached out to the Governor to clarify what exactly is required for trade shows (precautions, distancing, etc.), the show organizers are not optimistic that changes will be made that would permit IMTS to be held in September.
Digital manufacturing is proving to be extremely valuable in situations where quick turnaround is necessary, such as transforming life-saving ideas to real-world products. In particular, data-driven manufacturing processes greatly helped a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota and a 20-employee design firm to bring their ideas to fruition quickly and effectively.
In line with World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) developed a program of safety measures to protect employees, their families and the surrounding communities from the spread and transmission of COVID-19 when the North American manufacturing plants reopen. The automaker informed its employees about the new protocol via mail, officially getting its reopening plans in motion.
May 12, 2020
Despite local coronavirus-related health restrictions, Tesla is reportedly planning to restart production at its plant in Fremont, California, this week. Elon Musk announced his decision via Twitter on Monday afternoon. The CEO assured his workers that he will be on the line with his workers.
Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 11, 2020
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order for the state’s manufacturing industry to resume all operations Monday, May 11. Manufacturing companies must implement daily screenings for everyone entering their facilities, provide a daily questionnaire that surveys employees on symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19, and daily temperature checks upon receiving no-touch thermometers. Manufacturing will be the third major industry to fully reopen, as construction and real estate returned last week.
The pandemic, and Trump’s trade policy, are accelerating a trend to bring manufacturing back to America. According to the U.S. trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer, the pandemic has revealed American’s overreliance on other countries as sources of critical medicines, medical devices and personal protective equipment. But the era of offshoring is coming to an end.
May 11, 2020
Universal Stainless and Alloy Products Inc., one of the American leading providers of premium quality specialty steel products, received an official order to return the $10 million loan it received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. According to the letter issued by the Congress’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, PPP loans are intended to support small businesses facing possibly layoffs and closures, rather than large corporations with solid investor bases and access to capital markets. Universal Stainless hasn’t released a comment on the issue yet.
Honda Motor Co. began resuming its automotive assembly and engine and transmission manufacturing operations in the U.S. and Canada on May 8, seven weeks after it idled North American production to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The automaker noted that operations will resume gradually according to the location, with most plants using the first day to train front-line leaders in new, COVID-19 prevention procedures and activities. Prior to resuming production, all associates will learn new safety measures and modified work processes to maintain social distancing.
The COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically affecting the machine tool market. The significant drop registered by the GBI:Metalworking, an index measuring month-to-month changes in the metalworking sector, is in fact a likely predictor of an acceleration in the contraction of machine tool orders in March and April. March’s unit orders were the lowest total for March since 2010. Orders for the month contracted 32.5% compared with a year ago. This was the ninth month in a row of contraction and the seventh in the last eight with a rate of contraction faster than 20%. The annual rate of contraction accelerated for the third month in a row to -17.5%. This was the fastest rate of annual contraction since May 2010.
May 8, 2020
Will Tesla Inc. restart the production in its Fremont manufacturing facility today? Apparently, the decision is not completely up to CEO Elon Musk.
California’s governor’s approval to reopen manufacturing and logistics businesses in the state seems, in fact, to go against the orders to maintain the shelter-in-place until May 31 coming from Alameda County, where Fremont factory is located.
“We appreciate that the Governor recognizes that California communities are impacted differently by coronavirus and can make decisions at the local level,” Alameda County wrote in a May 7 statement that confirmed that local health orders were still in effect. “In our current environment, if a county order differs from a state order, the more restrictive order takes precedence.”
Despite the statement, Tesla HR chief published detailed information about the reopening, confirming the automaker’s intention to move forward. As of publication, no response had been issued by the Alameda County authorities.
Among the many uncomfortable truths revealed by the coronavirus pandemic is, apparently, this: America can’t build anymore. Faced with an unprecedented emergency, U.S. factories have struggled to make even relatively simple products such as swabs, masks and protective gear. In this Bloomberg op-ed piece, Dan Wang, Beijing-based technology analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics, explains what’s broken in the American manufacturing industry.
The impact of COVID-19 has changed the way shops conduct business and illuminates more than ever the need for manufacturers to assess their processes and implement smart manufacturing technology. Reduced availability of skilled workers has been a modern development even before the pandemic. Now, with shops closing down or limiting operations and number of workers permitted on the shop floor, the need to have operations functioning without operator presence, and add value to your current equipment to optimize manufacturing processes, is the direction of the present and future of manufacturing. Here’s how smart manufacturing technology can help shops survive during hard times like this.
May 7, 2020
In a collaborative effort to support the healthcare industry during this COVID-19 crisis, HEIDENHAIN is working with Applied Motion Products, Inc. to expedite critical components to a large manufacturer of ventilators.
“It’s incumbent upon us all to do whatever we can to fight this pandemic,” said Tom Wyatt, HEIDENHAIN’s Director of Communications/Marketing. “And we are happy we can play even a small part.”
After finding out that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, can survive on surfaces for weeks, researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) and the National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN) have been studying ways to prevent surface-mediated infections. The results of some preliminary experiments show that copper ions could be the solution to this issue and scientists are working to develop anti-viral coatings that can be painted or sprayed on surfaces.
3M and Ford Begin Shipping Newly Designed Powered Air-Purifying Respirators for Health Care Workers Fighting COVID-19
3M announced Wednesday that more than 10,000 powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) manufactured by Ford Motor Co., in collaboration with 3M Co., are ready to be shipped to health care workers fighting Covid-19. The two manufacturing giants have been working together since March to boost the production of 3M’s personal protective equipment, which has seen a surge of demand from the coronavirus outbreak.
Newly designed powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), developed by @Ford in close collaboration w/ 3M, as well as @CDCgov & @NIOSH, are on the way to health care workers fighting #COVID19. Read more: https://t.co/MMmR8Camdw pic.twitter.com/kCgYZGtLf6
— 3M (@3M) May 6, 2020
May 6, 2020
Although the unemployment rate keeps climbing in the United States and many manufacturers are having a hard time restructuring their businesses to keep their workforce healthy and their company competitive, it appears that the industrial sector is rapidly pivoting to meet the shifting demands of the pandemic. This quick transformation is expected to convert into a new wave of job opportunities. According to a survey conducted by Thomas Industry, manufactures are currently hiring for a range of positions across production, engineering, management, sales, and marketing. Here’s a comprehensive list of manufacturers hiring right now.
General Motors picked May 18 as the date when operations will resume. The Detroit automaker provided this statement on the reopening:
“Considerable planning is underway to restart operations in North America. Based on conversations and collaboration with unions and government officials, GM is targeting to restart the majority of manufacturing operations on May 18 in the U.S. and Canada under extensive safety measures. These global, standardized measures were informed by learnings from GM facilities in China; Korea; Kokomo, Indiana; Arlington, Texas; Warren, Michigan; Customer Care & Aftersales operations, as well as collaboration with union leadership and supplier partners. These procedures meet or exceed CDC and WHO guidelines, and are designed to keep people safe when they arrive, while they work and as they leave the facility.”
A 20-year-old CNC machining apprentice is playing a key role in manufacturing more than 150,000 critical parts for the NHS. Jacob Benton, a young engineer working at Cannock-based Key Precision has programmed three different CNC machines to create five oxygen supply line parts, completing the complex task in just a few hours of receiving the order so the company can meet urgent timelines set by the consortium. “It’s great that I am putting what I’ve learned on my apprenticeship into action on such a crucial project that will help save lives,” explained Jacob.
Benton is one example of how metalworkers are using their skills to support health care workers and COVID-19 patients. For more stories, check out our stories page.
May 5, 2020
Formlabs has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to 3D print bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) adapters designed by Northwell Health. The adapters have the function of converting BiPAP machines, typically used for patients suffering from sleep apnea, into functional invasive mechanical ventilators. Formlabs is reportedly the first 3D printing manufacturer to receive an EUA and is now shipping these adapters to hospital systems throughout the U.S. to combat the shortage of ventilators and provide life-saving treatment to COVID-19 patients.
After being idled for almost a full month, the Boeing’s South Carolina plant resumed aircraft assembly operations on Monday, May 4th. To preserve employees’ health and comply with virus containment policies, the company increased the cleaning efforts in all the buildings, installed multiple hand sanitizing stations, and will encourage workers to wear cloth masks or other face coverings.
As manufacturers get ready to resume their operations, many of them struggle to find the right solutions to keep their employees safe while respecting their rights. To help them navigate in these uncharted territories, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently issued guidance tailored to the manufacturing industry – as part of what the agency indicated will be a series of industry-specific alerts designed to keep workplaces safe.
Although the U.S. manufacturing index further plunged in April to its worst level in 11 years, the fall was not as bad as economists predicted. The ISM Manufacturing Index fell to 41.5, better than Wall Street estimates of 35 but down sharply from March’s 49.1. The measure is a diffusion gauge, measuring the percentage of firms seeing expansion, so a reading below 50 indicates contraction.
According to a recent survey conducted in April interviewing 147 manufacturing leaders located in Wisconsin, manufacturers are prioritizing keeping their workforce intact during the economic downturn. “Companies are really working hard recognizing that employees are a strategic resource and that we are in a long-term tight labor market,” said George Bureau, vice president of consulting services at WMEP, during a webinar to discuss the survey results.
May 4, 2020
Canada-based NGen will invest $21 million to finance multiple projects aiming at producing technologies, equipment, and medical devices to fight the battle against COVID-19. The organization announced the initiative over a month ago and received over 900 requests and submission from manufacturers. Approved projects include ventilators and components, test kits, face shields, and a coating material that kills bacteria and viruses on contact. Here are some of the projects.
In a memo sent to all its furloughed workers on May 1st, Tesla announced its decision to postpone the reopening of their plants for at least another week. The electric-car maker originally planned to have some of its workers go back to its Fremont manufacturing facility by April 29, but the company quickly backed off from the original plan. Tesla’s latest decision to further push back the reopening is leaving its employees wondering when they’ll be able to go back to work. The employees will still be eligible for unemployment benefits while furloughed.
After being deemed an essential business, M.I. Integration, a worldwide supplier to the automotive business, found an opportunity to switch to the medical industry, recall laid-off employees, and use their mold-making expertise to manufacture face shields. The company is now capable of producing 400,000 to 500,000 shields per week and is planning to start full production and adding a third shift. Here’s the full story.
M.I. Integration is one example of how metalworkers are using their skills to support health care workers and COVID-19 patients. For more stories, check out our stories page.
While most manufacturers are eager to reopen their plants and ramp up their production, going back to ‘business as usual’ will not be an easy task. According to a report recently released by Tompkins International, a world leader in supply chain consulting, both public and private leaders need to be prepared for what will be the ‘next normal’ and be ready to adapt to a new reality.
GE Aviation announced plans to let go as many as 13,000 employees in its jet engine business in an effort to cut their costs. The decision is the latest example of how the aerospace industry has been deeply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
May 1, 2020
Despite we see initial signs that the curve is bending, the supply of ventilators testing kits or personal protection equipment (PPE) still doesn’t seem to be able to catch up with the demand leading lawmakers and state governors to prolong this COVID-19-imposed exile. But how is that possible that the United States appear to be so incapable of providing these supplies? Here’s an interesting explanation from Xometry’s CEO Randy Atschuler.
What short term actions do companies take to ensure business continuity while protecting their employees’ health? How do they prepare for the rebound and increase the resilience in their manufacturing and supply systems? What are forever changes that companies need to adapt to, to ensure long-term success? The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Kearney, brought together C-level executives from different industry sectors to identify best responses to the current COVID-19 crisis, in the short-term, and help build resilience across manufacturing and supply systems by incubating new business partnerships and public-private cooperation. Here are the main takeaways from the round table.
Work-life for all the automotive workers who are expected to go back to work soon will be much different from before the pandemic. Some of their jobs that require two or three men will not be an option and the common area were workers used to get together to will have to be rethought to make sure that the safety distances are maintained. Ford, General Motors, Fiat-Chrysler, and most other manufacturers in Michigan might soon be asking themselves a very trivia question: how can factory workers assemble a product and adhere to social distancing and safety guidelines when part of the assembly requires breaking those rules?
What will restarted manufacturing operations look like? According to a research study conducted by supply-chain and manufacturing experts at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, typical manufacturing operations “will look strikingly different in the post-pandemic era”. The need to keep infections under control and social distancing practices in place will push manufacturers to rely heavily on technology, likely accelerating the development of new technologies.
April 30, 2020
After over a month of arrested production, BNW Manufacturing announced its plans to resume the operation at Plant Spartanburg on May 4. The company announced that the reopening will happen in concurrence with the implementation of new guidelines and procedures that will help mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus, including temperature self-checks, modified seating for cafeteria and office areas, staggered lunch schedules and expanded cleaning practices, the release said. Face masks will be required for anyone who cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others.
Three Canadian companies combined their expertise to design and manufacture a wearable product designed to provide workers with an easy way to maintain a safe 6-ft. distance between one another. The patent-pending device, named Social Distancer, has the size of a credit card and can instantly calculate the distance between employees and notify them if that distance becomes too short.
Toyota announced it will delay reopening its North American manufacturing plants for at least another week. Previously, the company had said it would return to normal work May 4, but now it won’t reopen until May 11. This includes all of its plants in North America, even the one in San Antonio.
The city of Los Angeles has struck a deal with Honeywell International Inc. to manufacture 24 million of the respirators for the city’s stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE). The city agreed to pay 79 cents per mask, plus taxes, and distribute the masks at costs to hospitals and health care providers,
“This deal with Honeywell is important on so many levels,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles and the city’s appointed chief logistics officer during the crisis. “One, it creates domestic production and jobs only six hours away by the 10 freeway. … Secondly, the idea here is certainty. … We know exactly how much product we are going to receive at a minimum and when. … The third piece here is that good price point for the way that we want to deliver this. It’s going to be at cost to the hospitals and those workers.”
April 29, 2020
The shutdown imposed to OEM assembly plants due to the Coronavirus pandemic has had and keeps having a significant ripple effect on the whole automotive industry, with thousands of suppliers and sub-suppliers being directly impacted. Despite companies’ eagerness to resume their operations, ramping back up certainly will be a major challenge for the entire industry.
The crisis, however, is also expected to yield a positive change, as businesses will likely consider implementing new technologies and automation strategies, embracing a flexible workplace, and placing a greater emphasis on keeping employees safe and healthy.
Boeing announced on Wednesday its plan to cut 10% of its workforce. As expected, the prolonged grounding of its signature jet combined with the global interruption of air travel drastically impacted the profitability of the aircraft manufacturer, forcing the company to take this unpopular decision. The report did not provide details on where those job cuts would come from or give a total number of jobs Boeing plans to cut, but the figure would equal more than 14,000 of its U.S. employees.
As the number of COVID-19 cases keeps growing in Michigan, the new Makerspace located within the Monroe County Community college stepped up to produce face shields and other essential personal protective equipment (PPE). Led by rapid prototyping and fabrication experts, the Applied Science and Engineering Technology (ASET) division has been working restlessly to produce hundreds of face shields and mask adjusters
“To date, we have produced and distributed approximately 120 face shields and dozens of the mask adjusters,” said Parmeshwar Coomar, dean of the ASET division at MCCC. “Our goal is to produce more than 200 face shields and continue to make more of the adjusters and door devices before our on-hand supplies are exhausted.”
Nine workforce development grants, totaling nearly $1.3 million, has been awarded to businesses and educational institutions in Minnesota to train workers in an effort to keep high-quality jobs in the state.
“The MJSP (Minnesota Job Skills Partnership) is a vital tool in helping Minnesotans train for high-skill, high-paying jobs, particularly as Minnesota’s economy will begin to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 over the coming months,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a statement. “Training workers to meet the needs of Minnesota has never been more important.”
In compliance with the strictest health and safety measures and guidelines, Bombardier began the process of recalling about 11,000 of its Canadian based employees that were placed on furlough. The company is expecting to resume production within the next few weeks.
April 28, 2020
Manufacturers across the country are doing their part to fight the battle against the pandemic. Aztalan Engineering, an employee-owned company based in Lake Mills, is one of them. The manufacturer is producing parts and sub-assemblies for flow control valves in GE ventilators and anesthetic delivery machines at an increased production speed to meet the increased demand for these crucial parts.
“This business unit is usually two 40-hour shifts but we’ve had to add a weekend shift and several temporary employees and shift other employees to help.”
In response to the unprecedented demand for PPE, Fictiv, a San Francisco-based manufacturing company specialized in multiple production technologies, committed to manufacturing and delivering large volumes of face shields in areas where they are needed in short times. To do so, the company had to pick the most reliable manufacturing technology to deliver high volumes in short times. The choice fell on injection molding, and less than ten days after Fictiv’s commitment, an open-source design had been adapted, tooling had been produced in two different locations, and the face shields were being manufactured and shipped.
Covid-19 has been a wakeup call for many CNC businesses, demanding them to improve their disaster management strategies and supply chain management. In the course of globalization, many companies have mainly focused on low prices and have often been relying on a single sourcing strategy. This has now become a big issue because those supply chains are breaking down. Due to closed borders and production stoppages, supply from those single sources cannot be guaranteed any more. What’s the best strategy to overcome this emerging issue and improve the CNC supply chain management? Here’s what experts recommend.
FuzeHub’s COVID-19 Manufacturing Grants program was created to help New York State-based, small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies quickly accelerate production of personal protective equipment and respiratory care equipment. Ten days after the application window closed, FuzeHub awarded a total of $300,000 in grant funding to four New York manufacturers.
Despite the Coronavirus infection rate doesn’t seem to have reached its peak in the United States, some of the top players in the automotive industry are already planning to resume the production and are expected to reopen some of their facilities this week or next. This alleged decision goes against UAW President Rory Gamble’s advice not to rush plants reopening.
“If we restart too early, it will be calamitous for all of us,” Gamble wrote in a letter addressed to all UAW members. “I feel the scientific data is not conclusive at this point and it is too risky for our members, their families and our communities to support a quick return to work in early May.”
April 27, 2020
GM Canada is working to turn part of its Oshawa plan into a face masks production facility following the same production model already in place in Michigan. The manufactures aims at producing approximately one million face masks per month and sell them at cost to the Canadian government. The project is estimated to require 50 employees to support two shifts of production.
“This is a proud day for all the employees of GM Canada to be preparing the Oshawa plant to make millions of face masks at cost to help Canada fight this COVID-19 Emergency,” said Scott Bell, president and managing director, GM Canada, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to partnering with our government and union partners to make this happen quickly.”
As the Coronavirus pandemic keeps spreading throughout the United States, manufacturers, big or small, are coming up with creative ways to join their forces to help hospitals. The partnership between GB Remanufacturing in Long Beach and Knick Machining in Bozeman is the latest example of this trend. The two company combined their engineering expertise and machining capabilities to produce and deliver a special part that can turn a standard ventilator into a pressure ventilator.
There’s no doubt that coronavirus has impacted every single one of us. Some to a greater degree than others. Part of it depends on what state you live in. Part depends on whether you’re a parent or caretaker for a family member. And there are many other factors affecting how coronavirus is affecting the trades. The “Pro Tool Review” staff reached out to their social media audience to ask how the tradesmen and tool users have been affected by Coronavirus in their own words. Here’s what they said.
April 24, 2020
The COVID-19 epidemic and the consequent measures taken to contain the contagion risk had a worse-than-expected impact on the manufacturing sector. According to the latest numbers released by the Commerce Department, orders for manufactured goods plunged 14.4% in March, the second-biggest decline on record.
NASA has joined the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) with efforts underway across the country to augment the national response, a few of which were highlighted in a media briefing.
“NASA’s strength has always been our ability and passion – collective and individual – for solving problems,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “All the work being done shows how NASA is uniquely equipped to aid in the federal response to coronavirus by leveraging the ingenuity of our workforce, mobilizing investments made in the U.S. space agency to combat this disease, and working with public and private partnerships to maximize results.”
Although most of the factories shut down their regular operations to prevent Coronavirus from spreading, hundreds of employees from multiple automotive manufacturers are going back to their factories to produce face masks and ventilators. These workers making medical gear will get their full base pay, but that’s not what’s motivating them to keep coming to the factories. Many simply want to help.
“Courage is doing what you think is right even when it might cost you,” said Joseph Holt, associate professor at Notre Dame’s business school who specializes in ethics and leadership. “Those workers being willing to go in to work to produce the medical equipment and personal protective gear, even at personal risk _ that is moral courage in action.”
During these hard times affecting the metalworking industry, many shops are looking for opportunities to help. 2K Tool, a mold making shop located in Grand Rapids, MI, was one of them. The shop leveraged their skills and tools to quickly turn a CAD design for 3D printing a mask into a plastic injection mold and started producing 2,000 to 3,000 masks per day.
2K tool is “just” one example of how metalworkers are using their skills to support health care workers and COVID-19 patients. For more stories, check out our stories page.
As the COVID-19 cases began to spread across New York, one Long Island machine shop stepped up and created the M1 reusable respirator. Their workhorse for the production is a Liquid Crystal Magna 3D printer from Photocentric recently purchased to manufacture custom parts for cars and motorcycles, but now it’s pumping out life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, emergency response, and other essential workers.
In this video, Matt Mendez, owner of the shop, shows the respirator and demonstrates the bag filter snap adapter.
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here we are getting ready to release our bag filter snap adapter or HFA for short. It’s a awesome solution that helps with combining higher air flow with super fine filtration. This filter material is capable of catching 0.3 Micron particles at a higher rate than an N95. We want to beat that due to our innate competitive nature. looking for a local filtration analyzer as of today. Let me know who can help. #printedppe
April 23, 2020
Honeywell International Inc. has announced details of a $10 million fund that will give up to $750 to hourly and administrative employees in May to help with financial difficulties from the COVID-19 crisis. The industrial technology company, based in Charlotte, estimates that 10% to 15% of its 113,000 employees worldwide will qualify for the one-time relief payment. That equates to between 11,300 and 16,950 workers.
Stratasys and Origin Partner to Bring Millions of 3D-Printed Nasopharyngeal Swabs to Healthcare Providers for COVID-19 Testing
As the shortage of COVID-19 testing kits is threatening to slow down healthcare providers’ efforts to test millions of people, Origin and Stratasys announced an agreement that aims at increasing the production of 3D-printed swabs from 100,000 to over a million per week by May.
To do so, Stratasys will leverage its position as a leading provider of 3D printing solutions to the healthcare industry to market Origin NP O1 Swabs.
“We believe widespread testing can help save lives and get our economy going again, and we’re confident that our Origin One technology and simple material requirements will be able to produce millions of swabs to meet the need,” said Christopher Prucha, Origin CEO. “We’ve been impressed by the speed with which Stratasys has been able to provide thousands of shields to healthcare systems across the country and believe they are the right partner for helping get millions of swabs where they are most needed.”
Despite the pause of most production at Airbus’ plants in Spain following the Royal Decree of March 29, 2020, most of the manufacturer’s sites have shifted their production activities to produce protective equipment for doctors and nurses fighting the COVID-19 battle on the front line. More than 20 3D printers are working day and night, with hundreds of visors have already been produced and dispatched to hospitals close to the Airbus facilities in Spain.
For many essential workers still going in the shop every week following the COVID-19 best practices is key to minimize contagion risks and keep the environment virus-free.
In this article Bob Warfield, from CNC Cookbook, discusses some of the main steps that machinist and machine shop owners should take to operate more safely while COVID-19 is on the loose.
According to a recent report released by Xometry, more than 80% of small manufacturers are feeling the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. On top of that, 55% of the respondents also reported that they anticipate a decline in their business in Q1 2020. Not all the insights, however, appear to be negative. A quarter of the respondents in fact seems to have a positive outlook of the near future.
April 22, 2020
Concerned about the interrupted flow of goods and parts that feed businesses in the North American free trade zone, Christopher Landau, the US ambassador in Mexico, is pushing Mexican manufacturers to reopen border assembly plants that are key.
“There are risks everywhere, but we don’t all stay at home for fear we are going to get in a car accident,” Landau wrote. “The destruction of the economy is also a health threat.”
The concerns are finding hostile reactions from Mexican workers, as employees staged walkouts and protests at border assembly plants, which are known as maquiladoras, because of fears the facilities have become breeding grounds for coronavirus outbreaks.
When Northeastern’s Boston campus moved to online instruction in March, Ben Macalister, a senior machinist in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, needed to find something to do with his hands. That’s when he decided to use the high-pressure water jet in the Northeastern’s machine shop to manufacture parts for machines that will build protective gear for hospital workers. Macalister is one example of how metalworkers are using their skills to support health care workers and COVID-19 patients.
For more stories, check out our stories page.
There’s no doubt that manufacturers are committed to doing anything and everything they can to support the healthcare system during these difficult times. Unfortunately, however, even as manufacturers are making sacrifices and performing essential services, unprecedented regulatory uncertainty and rapid changes in the rules make it hard to know what actions could expose manufacturers to unfair litigation. Manufacturers always put the health and wellbeing of employees and families first. So manufacturers are stuck: they’re committed to doing the right thing, but they could also face lawsuits as a result. NAM’s General Counsel Linda Kelly explains how manufacturers should navigate in these uncharted waters.
Mold manufacturers who have been critiqued for slow lead times, as compared to the overseas competition, are proving to themselves and customers during COVID-19 that North American mold manufacturers and suppliers can unite and do things at an extraordinary speed. Mold component and hot runner suppliers are delivering products to mold builders the next day, and mold builders are completing five-, six-, eight-, 10-week jobs in 10 days from quote to mold to press.
April 21, 2020
A.D.S U.S., Inc, a Michigan-based group specialized in manufacturing parts for the automotive industry, is doing what they can to help those on the front line by making face shields. The company partially completed 150 masks using materials the on-site and has already sent out 30 competed face shields to three local hospitals.
“We happen to have the material, we happen to have the engineering expertise, to pull it off, with the help from one of our tooling suppliers, we were able to get the tooling to cut out the masks.”
After introducing new measures to protect workers and establishing a protocol for notification, cleaning and work stoppage if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, Doosan Bobcat reopened its manufacturing facilities in Bismarck, Gwinner and Wahpeton after a two-week shutdown. The company has provided employees with face masks and face shields and is also requiring hand sanitizer to be available in plant common areas.
America Makes Announces Two Challenges to Mobilize Additive Manufacturing Community to Assist Frontline Workers
America Makes has announced two new challenges that intend to harness the 3D printing industry’s collective strengths. The first challenge announced is the Fit to Face – Mask Design Challenge in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs. A second initiative is the COVID-19 Maker Challenge, a joint event by Challenge America and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem.
“Both of these opportunities seek to tap into the amazing innovation we’ve seen to date from the entire AM community during this crisis,” said America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski. “This industry is uniquely positioned to take on these challenges as we have the ability to rapidly design and test products that will solve very real problems for frontline workers.”
To find more information, register and or submit a challenge, visit www.covid19makerchallenge.com.
Kia Motors producing protective face shields at U.S. manufacturing plant for use by healthcare workers across the country
In response to a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kia Motors Monday announced that production of face shields1 has begun at its manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. Initial donations of medical use face shields assembled at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) will be made in Georgia, Alabama, New York and California.
President Trump’s push to relaunch the economy is leading Boing to resume its production, bringing back to work about 27,000 employees. The company will take all the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from spreading, including distributing face masks and imposing staggered shifts. Other manufacturing company as planning to resume their operations both in the United States and elsewhere around the world.
April 20, 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically shuffled the rules of supply, demand, forcing manufacturers to rethink their working practices to meet the high demand of PPE coming from the healthcare systems and keep their business competitive at the same time. In order to be successful in this transition, there are a few key factors to consider. Here’s how Fictiv, a custom parts manufacturer, faced the challenge.
Monaghan Tooling Group, an engineering company specialized in providing the metal working industry with world-class engineered tooling and services, is not new to dealing with uncommon tooling requests from multiple customers. When the request, however, is related to a life-or-death situation, priorities change. That’s why in only took 5 hours and 15 minutes to fulfill the request of custom tooling to produce 2500 ventilator components.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without the teamwork, communication, and shared urgency of everyone at Monaghan and Elliott Tool,” said MTG Operations Manager Andrea Rees. “Knowing that life-saving equipment was on the line motivated everyone.”
Across the country, the men and women who make things in America are working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. At ID4A Technologies, a global manufacturing technology and industrial automation company based in San Francisco, California, that effort takes many forms as its leadership leverages funds, high-tech infrastructure, advanced manufacturing capabilities and global networks to support frontline workers and vulnerable communities. ID4A is approaching the challenge in two ways. First, it is supporting the manufacturing and distribution of critical medical devices and health care products. The organization has already donated $5 million from its profits and raised a total of $30 million from shareholders and its leaders are collaborating with partners in 25 countries to rapidly increase the production and distribution of essential products and devices that support frontline workers. Second, the company is supporting hard-hit individuals in their own community by donating $1 million to 10 schools for underserved students in the San Francisco Bay Area, which will help provide critical services for more than 3,000 low-income children and their families.
April 17, 2020
If you own or manage a fabrication business, you are naturally wondering what may come next and how you should adapt to even more changes. To help make the transition as smooth as possible until the pandemic passes, here are six tips to keep in mind for your business during the days ahead.
U.S. Department of Labor Issues Alert to Help Keep Manufacturing Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect manufacturing workers from exposure to coronavirus. Visit OSHA’s Publications webpage for other useful workplace safety information.
After halting its operation in March to prevent the spread of coronavirus within its plants, Boeing announced that the production will resume at its Seattle, Washington-area facilities beginning April 20, 2020. The company plans to take enhanced safety and health precautions and already put in place comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19. Approximately 27,000 people in the Puget Sound region will return to production of the 747, 767, 777, and 787 programs at Boeing’s Everett, Washington site, supporting global transportation infrastructure, cargo services, and national defense and security missions.
Ferrari has officially begun 3D printing thermoplastic valves and fittings necessary to convert masks designed for snorkeling into respirators that can be used by patients suffering from COVID-19 symptoms. The automaker is planning to manufacture several hundred pieces of the equipment, which would be used in Italian hospitals and by health service workers.
Ferrari is now producing respirator valves and fittings for protective masks at its Maranello plant through its 3D printing facilities in support of health workers. Practical solutions for immediate aid where it is needed. #Ferrari https://t.co/JkueMJxjk7 pic.twitter.com/c4ibBMN0bi
— Ferrari (@Ferrari) April 16, 2020
General Electric factory workers are asking President Trump to require their company to use them to make emergency ventilators to fight the coronavirus pandemic, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Motherboard. The letter follows two separate nationwide protests by the workers.
“IUE-CWA members have the skills to make ventilators, GE has the capacity in these facilities, and production managers at GE Healthcare have the experience and knowledge to make this happen now,” Kennebrew writes. “Your constituents want to work. Tell GE to put them to work saving American lives!”
April 16, 2020
As Mexican authorities consider shutting down plants and factories to fight the coronavirus epidemic, a group of U.S. business lobbies representing manufacturers are pushing Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado to label certain industries “essential” so that health emergency measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus in Mexico do not halt key operations on both sides of the border.
“At a time when we need to ramp up the production of personal protective equipment, lifesaving equipment and medicines, we cannot afford to have any of these critical supply chains shut down,” the National Association of Manufacturers, the group representing U.S. companies, said in a letter to the president.
Nicholas Long, a Chattahoochee Technical College graduate working as a machinist in with Win-Tech Inc. in Kennesaw, is using his CNC skills to manufacture pieces for ventilators that are needed for patients who are battling the respiratory illness.
“We began production of ventilator parts about a week ago,” said the 25-year-old, who graduated from CTC last summer. “All CNC lathes in the shop are now dedicated to their production.”
Many other shops and individuals are doing their part to help fighting the battle against COVID-19. Here are more stories.
A second wave of COVID-19 could have a disastrous effect on the global automotive industry. According to Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research that global vehicle sales could decline by up to 25% in 2020 and weaken further over the first half of 2021 to possibly reach a further contraction of 10% in 2021. This compares a 9.9% contraction by in 2020 if there is a single wave, followed by modest growth in 2021. However, the second wave will further drive up the demand for medical equipment, especially ventilators, which could see demand outstrip this current global estimate of 880,000, which further makes the case for automakers to produce medical equipment.
Robotic Research LLC, a leading provider of autonomy and robotic technologies for government and commercial customers, committed to rely on its engineering expertise to design innovative solution for healthcare workers to help fight the COVID-19 crisis. The company is contributed by providing reusable face shields to hospitals around the Greater Washington Metro area and by making its patented sterile 3D printing process (USPTO 10,406,758) available royalty free for a minimum of one year for any COVID-19 applications across the globe.
Lamborghini, the Italian sportscar manufacturer, is helping fight the COVID-19 outbreak that is severely affecting its own country by dedicating its in-house 3D printing facilities to manufacture medical equipment. The company is relying on Carbon DLS technology to 3D print 200 protective polycarbonate face shields a day and has been using its resources to help design and manufacture lung simulators to support SIARE Engineering International Group, the leading medical respirator manufacturer in Italy.
April 15, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is leading the global manufacturing sector into a growing contraction. The trend was confirmed by the latest PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) report. The index registered 49.1 percent, down 1 percentage point from the February reading of 50.1 percent. Any number less than 50 is considered a contracting or shrinking manufacturing market. Several component indexes were down including those for new orders, production, backlog of orders and the employment index. This infographic captures what leading respondents in the major index categories had to say about their experiences in the market.
PPG, a global supplier of paints, coatings, and specialty materials, and the PPG foundation committed to support community relief efforts by donating $1.5 million to several organizations that are helping individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
“This global crisis is impacting every community and citizen in the world and, like others, we want to help those in need,” said Malesia Dunn, executive director, PPG Foundation and corporate global social responsibility. “At the center of our company’s purpose is a commitment to ‘protect and beautify the world.’ Today, the word ‘protect’ is taking on an even greater significance to all of us. We are focused on protecting our communities by supporting these organizations that are helping others, as we all look forward to brighter days ahead.”
After shutting down most of its facilities due to corona virus epidemic, Purdue University is turning the lights back on in some on its labs and departments to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilator fittings. The Purdue collective is now involved in designing and manufacturing multiple ventilator fittings, developing a prototype fitting for hazmat suits, and producing up to 1,000 sets of face shields and glasses per day. The group is also in prototype development for a reusable N95-compliant mask with interchangeable filter cartridges.
Australian company SPEE3D has successfully developed and tested a fast and affordable way to 3D print anti-microbial copper onto metal surfaces. Laboratory tests have shown that touch surfaces modified by this process ‘contact kills’ 96% of SARSCoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in just two hours. With laboratory testing complete, it is hoped the Australian-developed breakthrough can be applied to common touch items like door handles, rails and touch plates in hospitals, schools and other public places.
As foreseeable, U.S. factories registered one of the steepest slow-down in the history of manufacturing. The industrial production fell 5.4 in March, mainly caused by the fact that most factories across-industries were forced to shut down to protect workers from the outbreak of COVID-19. It was the largest drop since January 1946, when American industries were shutting to shift production from wartime to consumer products following the end of World War II. More information about the latest industrial production report is available on the Federal Reserve website.
April 14, 2020
On Monday night, Mazda Toyota executives announced that the coronavirus pandemic will delay the opening of the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, the giant automotive plant under construction in Huntsville, AL. The plant, originally expected to start production in spring 2021, is one of the largest economic developments in Alabama history.
Ford and 3M are teaming up to start producing an innovative type of mask for healthcare workers. The new mask, called PAPR (Powered Air-Purifying Respirator), will fit over the entire face and will draw air through a tube connected to a pump that filters contaminants from the air.
Starting tomorrow, we will begin production of a new powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR), with design and testing consultation from @3M.
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) April 13, 2020
Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker is planning to support local manufacturers that are shifting their production lines to produce lifesaving gear and protective equipment for healthcare workers. Gov. Baker announced that the state will make $10.6 million grants available to help businesses who want to step up and address shortages with the much-needed gear by producing it themselves. Companies can apply for funding by visiting masstech.org/m-ert.
Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, a world leader in engineered polymer solutions, is supplying a face shield component to the Boeing as it joins the urgent effort to assist medical workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The component, an elastomer strap required to make the 3D printed face shields adjustable, is manufactured from aerospace grade silicone.
Several companies operating in the composites and fabrication industries are joining the fight against COVID-19. Here’s an overview of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their businesses, and how they are available to help.
April 13, 2020
Mazak is committed to helping their customers navigate these uncertain times by offering creative tools and resources for shop owners, managers and team members. The machine tools manufacturer recently publishes on their website a Manufacturing Survival Kit containing resources for important things to consider including business implications, ways to use downtime productively to prepare for demand when it returns (and it will return) and even ways to keep our families happy and healthy.
As COVID-19 keeps shaking the global supply chain and forces medical equipment manufacturers to find new ways to produce and deliver the much-needed supplies to keep patients alive and healthcare workers safe, 3D printing technology is proving itself to be a valuable alternative to traditional manufacturing methods. Here are a few examples of how 3D printing is saving lives during this pandemic.
In a period when leadership and collaboration are paramount, U.S. technology and manufacturing leaders are really stepping up and showing their ability to shift and adapt their production lines to make manufacture something completely different from their typical products. We’ve seen impressive examples or both redeployment and collaboration, like the Ford Partnership with GE Healthcare that will produce 50,000 simplified ventilators by July or Xerox mass producing disposable ventilators in partnership with Vortran. There are numerous other examples of impressive production capacity being redeployed, and among those most adaptable are contract manufacturers who have deep and broad production skills that can be quickly applied to new products. These companies produce many different parts and products day-in-day-out.
Just as any other state facing the COVID-19 epidemic emergency, Manufacturers in Kansas and Missouri say they’re ready to respond to the pandemic by converting their plants to meet the surging demand for protective face masks, hospital gowns, ventilators and other items. But many are running into hurdles caused by federal bureaucracy, an unfamiliarity with the medical supply business or a lack a capital.
“It’s frustrating from our level… Yeah, they’ll let you do this in an emergency, but here’s your 10 tiers bureaucracy. It’s the whole government on this ‘cover your ass’ mentality.” said Mark Hess, owner of Hess Services, Inc., a manufacturer of storage tanks and other equipment for the oil industry.
A proposal from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, would expand liability protections for companies engaged in emergency medical production for the federal government. The legislation would also provide subsidies for U.S. firms making medical goods in an effort to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign imports.
After thoughtful consideration, The Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) decided to cancel the SAMPE Seattle conference due to the coronavirus outbreak. The conference, originally scheduled on May 4-7, was expected to take place in November.
“We believe this is the responsible thing to do considering the challenges introduced by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our members, exhibitors, attendees, staff, and community are our top priority, making it inadvisable for our community to gather for our traditional SAMPE Spring technical conference and tradeshow.”
SAMPE 2021 is scheduled to take place May 24-27, 2021 in Long Beach, Calif., U.S. For more information on the cancellation, visit the SAMPE 2020 website.
April 10, 2020
Not all workers have the possibility to work remotely. The presence of employees is required in manufacturing facilities and assembly lines, but how do employers guarantee their safety? Manufacturers are dealing with the disruption caused by the virus in different ways. Here are a few examples.
The Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19 announced Thursday it has assembled a team of manufacturers that will team up with three hospital systems to make between 750,000 and 1 million high-quality, reusable face shields for frontline workers over the next five weeks
According to a recent report released by the Wall Street Journal, Boeing could cut its 160,000 global workforce by 10%. The plan could involve buyouts, early retirements and involuntary layoffs. The company hasn’t revealed any plan to apply for government loans provided in the $2 trillion federal stimulus package enacted in late March. David Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, has said the company could go elsewhere for money if the government’s terms are too onerous.
In an effort to keep the supply chain operative, Lockheed Martin will contribute 156$ million or the next three weeks to support vulnerable supply chain businesses. The company has been working since the beginning of March with the Department of Defense (DoD) to identify solutions to support the U.S. defense industrial base.
April 9, 2020
FuzeHub, an Albany-based nonprofit committed to support small and mid-sized manufacturing companies across the state, recently announced a competitive grant program that will award $400,000 in COVID-19 manufacturing grants. Companies who are willing to participate in the program will have the option to choose between two “tracks”. The “prevent the spread” track will award four $50,000 grants to increase manufacturing capacity for personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically N95 masks while the “save lives” track will award two $100,000 grants to increase manufacturing capacity for respiratory care equipment, specifically ventilators.
The application deadline is Friday, April 17. To apply, manufacturers should visit https://fuzehub.com/coronavirus-grant/.
General Motors and Ventec Life Systems received a contract for 30,000 ventilator life-support machines from the Department of Health and Human Services. The partnership, which both companies have been working on since March 20, will see Ventec working with GM to produce the ventilators in GM’s Kokomo, Indiana auto parts facility using paid volunteers represented by UAW
As the mismatch between the demand of ventilators and the limited number of manufacturers becomes more and more evident, American manufacturers whose factories in normal times are humming along with more prosaic products, are racing to churn out new ventilators by the tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, as fast as they possibly can. Here’s an overview of how these manufacturers produced in weeks what would normally take medical device makers months or even years to produce.
Apple has unveiled its design for a face shield to protect health workers fighting coronavirus, which it is producing in the millions.
The new design is easy to assemble (less than to minutes) adjustable and ready to be shipped.
Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020
“My guys had started putting the job together before I finished filling out the quote. I just said, ‘Okay, I guess we’re making the parts whether we get paid or not.’”
With this words Mark Delaney, operations manager at Nicholas Precision Works (NPW), an Indiana toolmaking shop, described the quick reaction that his team had when the they realized they had the opportunity to use their skills to help in this difficult times.
Here’s how other metalworkers are making the difference during the COVID-19 epidemic. If you would like share your story with us, tag us and use the hashtag #metalworkingstrong on social media or send us an email.
April 8, 2020
The coronavirus epidemic is forcing many manufacturers to cut their workforce to remain competitive. TESLA is the latest example of this unfortunate trend. Starting from Monday, the EV manufacturers will furlough employees who aren’t performing essential tasks and cut the salaries of most of the remaining employees. Other large car manufacturers like Honda, Nissan and Ford have already furloughed employees and shut down plants as a reaction to the plummeting consumer demand.
While many manufacturing facilities are closed, others are working to produce much needed personal protective equipment. Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Georgetown, Kentucky is sending out its first batch of face shields. Workers donated the first 100 shields to health care workers at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Toyota got to work on these roughly two weeks ago, using 3-D printers. The company plans to face shields across the country.
As the situation in Spain worsen every day, most of Airbus plants in the area are working together to manufacture 3D printed visor frames for healthcare professionals. Despite the suspension of any aircraft-related manufacturing activity, employees are still allowed to on site to continue with this essential activity and more than 20 3D printer are working day and night to ramp up the production of this much needed piece of protective equipment.
Many shops in the United States are devote to manufacture parts that are urgently needed to produce ventilators and other medical equipment components. William Berry, president of Die-Tech & Engineering, recently described the process his company went through to build and deliver in only five days a die that was urgently needed for making ventilator components.
“We put four lead engineers and 50 other guys on it. At one point, we had 11 five-axis machines all working on different parts of it at once.”
Infinite Electronics Produces & Donates 3D-Printed Reusable Face Shields for Healthcare Workers Battling COVID-19
Infinite Electronics, Inc., a leading global supplier of electronic components, is relying on its 3D printing expertise and capabilities to manufacture reusable medical face shields destined to protect healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world right now, so we began to think of ways that we could help using technology we already have. With these reusable plastic face shields, we are able to help protect those who are most at risk on the frontlines battling this illness. We are happy to be able to contribute to easing the shortage of PPE supplies to healthcare workers. We are donating the face shields to as many healthcare resources as possible,” explained Penny Cotner, President & CEO of Infinite Electronics.
April 7, 2020
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has opened a funding opportunity for rapid, high-impact projects that support the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using funds appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020, NIST will award these grants through the NIST Manufacturing USA National Emergency Assistance Program with no requirements for cost matching.
“Manufacturing USA’s network includes more than 2,000 R&D institutions and manufacturers of all sizes, two-thirds of Fortune 50 U.S. manufacturers, and nearly every top-ranked research and engineering university in the U.S.,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. “This community of world-leading manufacturers is well positioned to distribute high-impact funding into existing manufacturing sector efforts that will support our COVID-19 response.”
MxD, one of the most prominent manufacturing institutes in the Unites States, and its member Autodesk recently started working together to produce face shields for medical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago.
The masks, made of 3D-printed parts and laser-cut sheets of PETG, will be manufactured at MxD’s Future Factory floor using Autodesk’s high-speed 3D printer.
In an effort to find solutions to fight the global pandemic, Nanofabrica, manufacturer of 3D printers for precision engineering, recently hosted a virtual roundtable with researchers, doctors and manufacturers from around a world. During the brain storming session, the participants focused their discussion on how precision additive manufacturing can be used to ramp up the production of devices that could speed up the testing of blood to assess COVID 19 infection or antibodies. The roundtable attracted a number of high profile experts including John Croft, the AM Hub Manager at the Australian Manufacturing Technology Institute Ltd (AMTIL) and Prof. Roey Amir from the School of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University. Discussions have been on-going since the meeting with various companies looking to apply Nanofabrica’s technology to a number of new initiatives being undertaken in the COVID 19 fight.
After a prolonged negotiation between 3M executives and senior Trump administration officials, President Trump finally announced the finalization of an agreement with 3M for the monthly delivery of 55.5 million additional high-quality face masks.According to a senior administration official, the government’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act played a key role in the shaping the final agreement between the two parties. The official warned that China could try and block the deal. China had previously authorized 3M to ship an additional 10 million masks a month to the US from a factory in China.
Formlabs, the University of South Florida (USF) Health, and Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, teamed up to produce 3D printed nasal swab used for COVID-19 testing. The team was able to go from design to testing within a week. Once clinical validation is complete, USF Health and Northwell Health’s 3D printers will produce the swabs and make them available to their patients.
“This is a prime example of the incredible impact we can have on people’s lives when teams of experts from academia, healthcare and the technical industry come together,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, Senior Vice President of USF Health and Dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
April 6, 2020
“Our ultimate goal is to get more masks to the people who desperately need them. We also recognized it would be counterproductive if GM – or any other manufacturer – competed for supplies with existing medical-mask companies. By making available GM’s production processes to our global supply base, we hope to facilitate other companies’ efforts to bring more materials, more equipment and ultimately more facemasks to the community.”
With this words Shilpan Amin, GM’s vice president of global purchasing and supply chain, announced the company’s commitment to make the automaker’s step-by-step manufacturing plans for the personal protective equipment available to any company willing to join in the cause.
Apple and Tesla are two of the main manufacturing players committed to help the healthcare industry make up medical equipment supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently announced that the company is making progresses in sourcing and delivering face masks worldwide. Cook also added that the company is now manufacturing foldable plastic face shields for healthcare workers. Tesla’s engineers, on the other side, have posted a video on YouTube showing two versions of a prototype ventilator that’s being built at a Tesla factory using components from Tesla vehicles.
While all U.S. automotive manufacturers are waiting to learn what will be the date when they will be finally able to resume their operations, some of them are reactivating some of their plants to rump up the production of ventilators and protective face masks.
Here’s how the main players in the automotive industry are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
3D Hubs, the largest network of 3D printing services in the world, recently started a fund to collect money and resources to be used to produce vital medical equipment needed to treat COVID-19 patients and those caring for them. So far, the fund has produced or is in the process of producing components for more than 5,000 Prusa RC2/3 face shields for hospitals in Denver, Chicago, San Jose, Canada, the U.K., Australia, India, Argentina, and Luxembourg.
If you’d like to help provide more healthcare workers with this vital medical equipment, donations are currently being accepted for the COVID-19 Manufacturing Fund via this GoFundMe page.
As local authorities keep working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the Seattle-area, an early epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S, Boeing Co. decided to extend the temporary suspension of production operations at all the local sites until further notice. The factories, including a hulking plant where all of the company’s wide-body jets are built, had been scheduled to reopen late Tuesday evening following an earlier two-week closure.
“The health and safety of our employees, their families and our communities is our shared priority,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal. “We will take this time to continue to listen to our incredible team and assess applicable government direction, the spread of the coronavirus in the community and the reliability of our suppliers to ensure we are ready for a safe and orderly return to operations.”
April 3, 2020
As 6.6 millions of workers lost their jobs in the past two weeks due to the coronavirus – and many more are unfortunately expected to suffer the same fate – experts are anticipating automation to fill out those gaps in the near future. But when the dust settles, will robots have replaced those jobs for good? The answer is complicated and differs by industry, but one thing is clear: Automation trends that were already on the horizon will happen faster now.
In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, the top five steel industry groups in the United States – American Institute of Steel Construction, American Iron and Steel Institute, Steel Manufacturers Association, The Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports, and Specialty Steel Industry of North America – pressed the Congress to include significant infrastructure investment in the next phase of COVID-19 stimulus legislation.
“American businesses will not likely feel the full economic impact of COVID-19 until later this year, as social distancing and shelter-in-place measures undoubtedly save lives but continue to slow economic activity in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Making a long-term and robust infrastructure investment now will not only respond to the urgent transportation system needs that are well known, but it also will create high-paying jobs, allowing businesses and families to recover from this extremely difficult economic shock.”
After an initial hesitation, President Trump announced on Thursday his intention to invoke the Defense Production Act, a wartime law passed in 1950 as a response to the Korean War, to clear up supply-chain issues encountered in the manufacturing of ventilators and to ensure the production of additional N95 face masks.
The act will hand Trump “a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense,” according to an updated Congressional Research Service report on the act released earlier this month.
Solvay, a global leader in advanced material and specialty chemicals, began working with Boeing to produce thousands of face shields. The company will supply the aircraft manufacturer with high-performance, medical-grade transparent film, a critical component of the much needed medical device.
Further product and contact information are available on Solvay’s dedicated page on COVID-19 emergency production.
Health ministries worldwide are all facing the same complicated question: where will we get all the ventilators we need to treat COVID-19 patients? Last year, 77,000 new ventilators were enough to meet the market demand of the entire planet. In April, New York City alone forecasts a need for 30,000 additional machines. No one has a real idea of what the total demand is likely to be before the epidemic ends, but one thing is clear: relying only on domestic production won’t work.
According to World Economic Forum, the only way to succeed is by getting the world’s most established ventilator manufacturers to mass-produce many more units and fast.
Although some of these manufacturers have already boosted their production by 30-50%, however, delivering the 500 or 1000% growth needed to prevent the deaths of tens of thousands won’t be possible unless the world’s most advances global supply chains step in to support.
If we want to be as effective and efficient as we can to solve the healthcare issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to take a broad, systemic perspective. The virus doesn’t worry about boundaries; we shouldn’t either.
April 2, 2020
The global COVID-19 epidemic has projected the whole world in a financial crisis. According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the coronavirus effect on markets and consumption could lead to a global economy shrink of almost 1%.
“Urgent and bold policy measures are needed, not only to contain the pandemic and save lives, but also to protect the most vulnerable in our societies from economic ruin and to sustain economic growth and financial stability,” said Liu Zhenmin, the U.N. undersecretary-general for economic and social affairs.
The response of the manufacturing community to the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of exceptional. To support and protect health care workers on the front lines manufacturers in industries from textiles to automotive have begun offering assistance by shifting operations to meet the growing demand for hand sanitizer, masks, ventilators and more. In a time where we could all use good news; it is extremely powerful to see the greater community rally to provide much needed support. Through examples like these, the manufacturing industry is making a concerted effort to increase production of essential equipment in order to help keep everyone as safe as possible.
Duro-Last Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of custom-fabricated, thermoplastic roofing systems, will shift its operation and start fabricating isolation gowns and face masks at its various U.S. manufacturing plants
“This is about helping health care professionals in any way we can and at the same time keeping people employed,” says Tom Saeli, Duro-Last CEO. “I am very proud of and impressed by the people in our company who quickly developed these products.”
As New York City hospitals struggle to provide its doctors and nurses the much needed personal protective equipment to stay safe while treating Coronavirus-infected patients, Shapeways, a NYC-based 3D printing company is stepping up to help. The company launched on March 30th a medical face shield e-commerce page, where anyone with a credit card or PayPal account can purchase the PPE for hospitals in need. The company already sold over 1140 masks in just 2 days.
To assist medical workers fighting COVID-19 in its local communities, Nexteer Automotive, a global leader in intuitive motion control is using its 3D printers in Saginaw, Michigan and Tychy, Poland to make plastic masks and face shield headbands. Nexteer is working with local government and medical organizations to donate the supplies to nearby medical facilities.
“Our 3D printers are typically used to create prototype steering systems for our automotive OEM customers, but our team found a creative solution to leverage our 3D technology to help our local community fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Piotr Dembiński, communications manager for Europe, Middle East, Africa & South America, Nexteer Automotive. “Within just two days of starting this initiative, our engineers were producing masks – showcasing the strength of our One Nexteer team when faced with a problem. We’re also offering to share our project details and key learnings with other companies looking to use their 3D technology to produce medical equipment.”
April 1, 2020
Tesla is shipping FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals around the world free of charge during the coronavirus pandemic
TESLA CEO Elon Musk announced on Tuesday that the company will be paying for and shipping FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals worldwide. Some of these ventilators have already been made their way to New York City, the city that so far reported most cases and deaths across the United States (43,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths as of April 1.)
More and more manufacturers across multiple industries are converting their plants into medical equipment production facilities. Despite the difficult times it’s encouraging to see how quickly companies can collaborate and supply chain priorities can shift when facing a pandemic crisis.
Do you own a computer and have access to Internet? Then you are qualified to help scientists seek chemical compounds that might be effective against Coronavirus. How? By volunteering to participate in OpenPandemics – COVID-19, a project designed and led by Scripps Research, and will be hosted on IBM’s World Community Grid. Volunteers’ devices will perform small, virtual experiments to identify chemical compounds, including those in existing medicines, that could potentially be used as treatments candidates for COVID-19. Compounds that show promise for treating COVID-19 will undergo further testing and analysis.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus and Rolls-Royce are the most prominent names among the aerospace companies that have recently announced their commitment to support employees, customers, and suppliers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Besides offering financial support to individuals and small businesses affected by the global crisis, many aerospace firms their technical expertise to develop, transport, or manufacture medical products desperately needed by healthcare professionals globally.
“In large parts of the tool industry, demand is falling significantly as a result of the measures to contain the corona pandemic. In particular, the plant closures of major customers from the automotive industry are having a direct impact on our companies,” says Stefan Zecha, chairman of the VDMA Precision Tools Association. According to the statement, although almost all precision tool companies are currently still able to deliver because they have made their value chains crisis-proof, not all companies will be able to bridge the time until the global economy and the majority of their customer industries are back on track with situation-related rush orders alone.
March 31, 2020
Not only manufacturing giants are mobilizing to provide hospitals with medical equipment. The University of Pittsburgh Engineering Makerspace and UPMC 3D Print Lab launched a survey looking for local companies with 3D printing capabilities and other resources who are willing to help with the COVID-19 response effort. The survey aims to compile a list of local companies willing to use their capabilities to aid in supply chain gaps. If you are located in the Pittsburgh area and have the possibility to help, you can fill out the survey here.
As a response to GE’s plan to cut 10% of its domestic workforce due to a downturn in the global air travel industry during the outbreak of COVID-19, The industrial unit of the Communications Workers of America, the union which represents GE Aviation workers, published a list of demands and staged a socially distant picket line, with workers marching six feet apart from one another, at GE Aviation’s Lynn, Mass., plant and the Boston headquarters of its parent company, General Electric. The union called for the manufacturing giant to use the excess capacity to make ventilators
Nathan Tykocki, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, is creating face shields using a 3D printer and collaboration among Michigan State University Colleges and professors.
“Everybody is just donating what they have and what they can to get this done. It’s really just been kind of amazing in that aspect saying – this is what we need, let’s do it,” Tycocki said. “It’s also great to be able to speak with all these other people that are helping and it’s connecting me to a bunch of colleagues I didn’t even know shared my similar interest across the university. That has really been a saving grace in this time of social isolation to be not so isolated.”
March 30, 2020
Designers challenged to develop ventilator in 8 weeks to aid patients suffering from effects of COVID-19
In an effort to increase the supply of ventilators available to help COVID-19 patients, the residents at Massachusetts General Hospital are launching the CoVent-19 challenge. The initiative, sponsored by Stratasys and Ximedica, is an open innovation 8-week Grand Challenge for engineers, innovators, designers, and makers. The official invitation to participate will be posted April 1 on the GrabCAD Challenges platform.
“Our goal is to rapidly expand the capacity of hospitals, by expanding our current ventilation abilities, in order to survive the peak of this pandemic.”
A new and improved collaboration between Ford and GE Healthcare is expected to deliver up to 50,000 FDA-approved ventilators by July 4. The new ventilators’ design, GE Healthcare from Airon Corp., allows for a quicker setup, making it simple for healthcare workers to use in an emergency room or intensive-care unit, or wherever a patient may need it. According a recent announcement made by Ford, the production of this new ventilator design can be scaled up quickly to help meet growing U.S. demand.
GM has been engaged since March 18th in the effort of producing much-needed ventilators, the scarce breathing machines used to keep coronavirus patients alive. The automaker has been working with a Seattle-area partner, Ventec Life Systems Inc., to close in on a production date to build a machine called a VOCSN: ventilator, oxygen, cough, suction and nebulizer. Converting an auto-parts plant into a medical-equipment complex, however, is not an easy task. Engineers from both companies have been working restless to design an operation that would help Ventec go from building a maximum of 250 ventilators a month to 10,000 and eventually get on pace to make 200,000 this year. GM expects to kick-off the production in mid-April.
Several manufacturing companies in the US and Canada have stepped up to provide help to hospitals and lab. Burloak Technologies, a division of Samuel, Son & Co. Ltd. Best known for it’s work in the aerospace sector, is one of them. The company sent an an open letter to global manufacturers of respiratory systems and health-care providers offering to help.
“We huddled last week and talked about how we as a company could help. We knew we had to balance out a number of things, because if we have people working in the plant, you’ve got to make that plant as safe as possible,” explained Burloak President Simon Walls. “It also has given our staff a huge lift. The amount of positive commentary we have gotten from people about our offer to help the industry really made us want to step up.”
Protolabs supports the frontline battle against Covid-19 with critical parts for testing and ventilator masks
Protolabs, the world’s fastest digital manufacturer of prototypes and low-volume production parts, is leveraging its expertise in 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding to support customer projects that are critical to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic across Europe.
“Digital manufacturing provides incredible speed of development and continues to be essential in equipping frontline staff with the solutions they need.” said Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe. “Protolabs employees play a vital role in helping us support the needs of our customers in what is a generation-defining moment. I am extremely proud of the commitment and expertise everyone is showing and I am humbled that, in our own way, we can contribute to saving lives across the world.”
March 29, 2020
Not only manufacturing giants are helping to fight the battle against the Coronavirus. Smaller local companies are also playing an essential role too. Bullen Ultrasonics, a small machining company with 139 employees located about 25 miles southwest of Dayton, is doing vital work by manufacturing an important part that is used in pressure sensors found in ventilators, which help to measure the air and oxygen pressure to and from a patient.
March 28, 2020
In an open letter to CEOs, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), the National Tooling & Machining Association(NTMA), the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and the Technology & Manufacturing Association (TMA) address manufacturers feeling the impact of efforts worldwide to respond to the coronavirus. The letter states that the associations’ member companies “stand ready to assist those industries who are facing global supply chain disruptions to help the economy continue its record growth.” The trade associations represent more than 3,500 companies in industries that employ more than 475,000 Americans.