The coronavirus pandemic has been a challenge worldwide, forcing abrupt change and requiring extensive adaptation. Manufacturers across the US have risen to the challenge, sometimes ramping up to meet critical needs and sometimes pivoting to produce items far afield of their usual industries.
Here are five examples of companies that have gone into high gear or applied ingenuity to pivot into a whole new area of manufacturing – all to meet the pandemic challenge head-on.
1. Commitment in Connecticut
In Newtown, Connecticut, a venerable packaging manufacturer and a long-standing ultrasonic manufacturer became suppliers of crucial PPE, lab equipment and PPE-production equipment.
Sonics & Materials, which manufactures liquid processing and ultrasonic welding, sealing and cutting technology, shifted into high gear to maximize production of equipment used to produce PPE. The company also innovated to meet the moment, designing a customized welding system for ventilator parts, and developing a process to weld multiple layers of material for face masks. Sonics also dramatically stepped up delivery of liquid processing systems for labs and hospitals.
Curtis Packaging has been in business for 175 years. It has a history of producing precision, high-end and luxury packaging for consumer brands and medical clients, and has perfected sophisticated printing, folding, diecutting and coating techniques. When the pandemic hit and face shields became an item in ultra-high demand for medical personnel, Curtis Packaging pivoted to meet that need. The company designed and produced a deceptively simple one-piece, fold-into-shape plastic face shield, then began shipping them in huge quantities to area hospitals and medical professionals.
2. Volume production in Vermont
Mack Molding, Arlington, Vermont, is a contract manufacturer of injection molded plastic parts. The company’s medical products customers count on Mack Molding to produce parts for portable oxygen units, diagnostic devices and pharmaceutical filters.
When demand for these products exploded and customers asked Mack for increased production, the company realized that it could not meet all of the demands with its existing capacity. Mack Molding made a leap of faith by purchasing and installing two additional three-axis machining centers to allow for high volume output of ventilator components – a lifesaving device for many COVID-19 patients.
3. East Coast-Heartland synergy
What is the end product when a Kansas-based autonomous mobility tech company hooks up with a New York-based maker of light energy technology? The flying monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz?” No. Flying virus killers.
Digital Aerolous, a heartland tech company that designs autonomous mobility systems for any vehicle that flies, drives, dives or swims, joined forces with Crystal IS, a New York manufacturer of high-performance deep UV (UVC) LEDs. The companies merged their know-how to create an indoor flying drone that aims to zap the coronavirus.
The diminutive drones, operated remotely from outside an affected area, can navigate airliner interiors, hospital rooms and grocery checkout stations, bathing all surfaces with 265 nanometers of UVC LED light for disinfection.
4. Cross-country benefits
Minuteman Press, the printing franchise with 1,000 locations in the US and abroad, has stepped up by launching the Bounce Back USA initiative. The program offers two free services to support neighboring businesses during the pandemic.
Minuteman Press franchises are distributing COVID-19 awareness and prevention posters at no charge to any business in their service areas. The posters include colorful graphics with tips for preventing the spread of diseases. The reminders, based on CDC advice, are vital for reinforcing the behaviors needed to get America through this pandemic with as few casualties as possible.
The company also is providing free local advertising on its websites to stimulate business and help out its franchise neighborhoods. For details, visit www.bouncebackusa.minuteman.com.
5. Buckeye State collaboration
In Ohio, the pandemic spurred collaboration among the state government, universities, hospitals and hospital associations, and 19 companies, all to create a supply of face shields.
The businesses involved included diecutting, injection molding, tool production and assembly companies, along with plastic suppliers, all of whom answered the call from MAGNET, a consulting firm that led the charge.
With funding from Ohio’s economic development arm, the collaborators produced one million face shields to be added to the Ohio Department of Health stockpile for distribution to hospitals.
Here’s to all the companies highlighted here, and to all of the enterprising American manufacturers that have stepped up to be part of the solution to the coronavirus pandemic problem.