COVID-19:Transforming Manufacturing

By Joan Mantini

As I write this, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, and risks in the global supply chains are more apparent than ever. However, rather than await a return to business as usual, companies have been shifting gears and focusing o nproduction of essential healthcare supplies. Although there are countless companies rising to the challenge, I thought it would be worth acknowledging a few that have caught my eye.

More commonly known for its production of ScotchTape and Post-it Notes,3M also manufactures an essential and critical piece of personal protective equipment(PPE)—N95respirator masks.3Mannounced it is doubling the output of masks, and it has also committed to increasing production of hand sanitizer and other products.

Honeywell is another company addressing the growing demand of masks during the outbreak. The company is reportedly quickly ramping up production and making millions ofN95 masks in the U.S., which will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for use to support health, safety and emergency response workers. Honeywell expects its new mask production line in Smithfield will create at least 500 new jobs.

In response to the global pandemic, General Motors (GM) took action by harnessing its scale to provide frontline workers with the ventilators and supplies they need. Simultaneously, GM took measures to bolster communities across the country, investing $2.65 million in 40 nonprofits, and supporting employee volunteer and donation efforts.

Ford Motor Company is another worth noting for its collaboration with GE Healthcare and the goal to produce 50,000 ventilator units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter, as needed. Ford is providing its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, and GE Healthcare is providing its clinical expertise and will license the current ventilator design from Airon Corp.—a small, privately held company specializing in high-tech, pneumatic life-support products.

Abbott Laboratories, a medical device manufacturer, is another company changing its day-to-day business to combat COVID-19.Abbott made the announcement that the FDA has authorized the company to begin mass-producing and distributing a new molecular test to detect the novel coronavirus, a process designed for Abbott-made machines that are already in hospitals and laboratories throughout the U.S.

As we all commit to doing our part to help combat COVID-19, watching companies like those mentioned above build partnerships, create new jobs and help ramp up essential supplies is proving how committed and innovative our supply chains can be.

Thank you to all of the essential companies and employees for going above and beyond during such acritical time.