Companies Making Rapid Production Shifts

April 28, 2020
A look at businesses and manufacturers switching the production lines to produce PPE and other equipment needed to combat COVID-19.

Supply chains and medical systems around the country have been stretched to the breaking point by the sudden shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past few weeks, the medical system in this country has experienced shortages of almost every product necessary to fight the virus. Hospitals in New York City reported a dire shortage of ventilators for critical-care patients, and medical professionals around the country scrambled to get their hands on a dwindling supply of respirators meant to keep them safe from the virus.

For manufacturers, the situation was, and in many places still is, dire. The contagion forced many plants to shut down their plants, either to avoid transmission or because their complex supply chain had developed sudden and unexpected vulnerabilities. The full impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the world economy is expected to be devastating, and manufacturing will feel it.

But, at the same time as the manufacturing sector is going through its most challenging episode in recent history, hundreds of manufacturers around the country felt the right thing to do was to use their unique problem-solving talents to help other people impacted by the same crisis.

Shoemakers and parachute manufacturers looked at their fabric and saw the potential for thousands of respirators. An engineering team considered how a fan for a ventilated truck seat might be used as part of a makeshift ventilator. Plastics manufacturers fired up their 3D design programs and sketched plastic face shields. Distillers tweaked their taps and began producing gallons of hand sanitizer.

Here are just a small selection of the countless manufacturers around the country currently using their talents for innovation, design, and supply chain management to do their part in the fight against COVID-19.

About the Author

Ryan Secard | Associate Editor


Focus: Workforce and labor issues; machining and foundry management

Associate Editor Ryan Secard covers topics relevant to the manufacturing workforce, including recruitment, safety, labor organizations, and the skills gap. Ryan has written IndustryWeek's Salary Survey annually since 2021 and has coordinated its Talent Advisory Board since September 2023.

Ryan got started at IndustryWeek in August 2019 as an editorial intern and was hired as a news editor in 2020 before his 2023 promotion to associate editor, talent. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of Wooster.

About the Author

Peter Fretty | Technology Editor

As a highly experienced journalist, Peter Fretty regularly covers advances in manufacturing, information technology, and software. He has written thousands of feature articles, cover stories, and white papers for an assortment of trade journals, business publications, and consumer magazines.

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