Switching Gears to Manufacture Medical Protective Equipment
To aid healthcare professionals and first responders under increasing strain due to the COVID-19 crisis, Novolex has retooled its manufacturing capabilities and repurposed its supply chains to develop products to help protect them. After compressing what would typically be a six- to eight-month product development process into three weeks, Novolex is now ramping up its capabilities to produce up to 25,000 face shields and 100,000 medical isolation gowns per week.
“As international supply chains have stalled and the COVID-19 crisis escalated, we’ve seen a critical shortage in medical protective equipment in the U.S.,” said Phil Rozenski, Novolex’s vice president of Public Affairs. “When we found out about this need, it was a no-brainer. Our facilities are already uniquely equipped to produce food-grade products, so we are thrilled to be able to jump in and use our know-how and engineering expertise to make protective equipment that can really help those on the front lines.”
As a plastic packaging producer, Novolex is able to produce this secondary personal protective equipment (PPE). The company is adopting creative solutions to adapt its facilities that can produce transparent PET sheet and fit-for-purpose injected molded plastic fittings to make components for face shields.
“We’ve leveraged all of the company’s manufacturing ingenuity to pivot from manufacturing to-go containers to producing medical supplies,” said Galen Killam, a Wisconsin-based engineering manager for Novolex. “We’re using facilities originally designed to produce food packaging such as tortilla bags to make protective gowns, and we’re adapting muffin containers, reusable cutlery and plates to create face shields.”
By adapting its sophisticated manufacturing infrastructure, Novolex facilities across North America are pushing out protective equipment at an unprecedented scale. The company also has assembled a national transportation and supply chain system that will allow it to continue this level of production for as long as the medical community needs it.