Last week, I shared details from just a few of the many manufacturers around the world that are taking action to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Though the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are horrible, I find it gratifying to see the drive, determination, and oftentimes ingenuity that these companies are displaying for the good of us all.
Some companies are rallying their workforce to increase production of existing products, while others are retooling their facilities to produce entirely new materials that are sorely needed. I’m sure many of you are involved in various coronavirus-related efforts, and I truly can’t thank you enough.
Below are some additional stories I came across in the past few days.
Arconvert and Ritrama Respond to the COVID-19 Emergency
In an unprecedented global crisis such as the one we are now facing because of COVID-19, Fedrigoni Group is committed to ensuring continuity of service and protecting the supply chain of essential necessities. From the beginning of the emergency, Arconvert and Ritrama have been operating fully, without interruptions, to serve the food and pharmaceutical industries and the health sector, while working tirelessly to protect the health and safety of our people.
The Fedrigoni Group has been ensuring the strictest level of compliance with all governmental prescriptions and has introduced some extra measures to further improve the safety of all its employees: widespread use of remote working, video conferencing systems for all meetings, safety distances between colleagues in all workspaces and common areas, infrared temperature testing to all staff at the entrance of factories and offices, and restrictions for visitors and external suppliers. Additionally, the sanitization activities of all environments have been intensified.
Arconvert and Ritrama mainly produce self-adhesive materials for the labeling industry serving large-scale distribution to food, pharmaceutical, and logistics sectors, among others. All essential goods require labels printed on self-adhesive materials. As such the Arconvert-Ritrama products are a vital component in supporting the supply chain of critical items such as drugs and hospital devices, IV and plasma bags, and test tubes and products for the sanitation of environments. Labels are also essential for pricing food in supermarkets, for bottles of personal and house care products, or to apply barcodes to handle and ship goods.
Arconvert and Ritrama are constantly assessing the situation as it evolves and are adjusting operations to secure the entire value chain, from the stock management and flexibility of their plants, to supply chain management (including securing the services of alternative drivers should our current suppliers fail to meet our demand). We are grateful for the privilege of being able do our part in this difficult moment, and we take this responsibility very seriously, both as an organization and as individuals. We strongly believe that, with everyone’s commitment, we will win this momentous battle, together.
For more information, visit www.ritrama.com.
Arkema Organizes and Mobilizes in the Midst of COVID-19
The coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) continues to spread. Naturally, Arkema is watching its evolution in real time and mobilizing around the world in an attempt to deal with this unprecedented health situation.
We are putting in place our own health instructions in the various countries in which we operate, in line with the directives laid down by those countries’ government agencies. It is vital that we all observe these instructions rigorously.
In these troubled times, Arkema’s priority is to protect the men and women of the croup, and to act in solidarity with the government agencies to help minimize the spread of the virus, with particular vigilance regarding the most vulnerable in society.
In accordance with the decisions taken by the authorities, appropriate measures are being implemented on our sites to ensure individual and collective protection and safeguard the health of both our employees and our contractors. Hence, we have further reduced exposure and contacts, and we are limiting access solely to those people who are essential on the sites, with stringent hygiene and disinfection measures. We are also making sure that barrier gestures and social distancing are observed. Finally, teleworking is now the preferred option based on the suitability of the workstations and on the business continuity needs.
At the same time, Arkema is organizing with determination and creativity to ensure the continuity of its activities and operations in order to serve its customers and supply its products, which are often key for many sectors and therefore for the economy of the countries in which we operate. In this environment that calls upon the energy and sense of solidarity of each of us, several of our products are used directly in the fight against the virus, and our teams are hard at work to respond to the surging demand with regard to molecular sieves for oxygen concentrators used by people with respiratory failure, as well as acrylic sheets (PMMA) used to shield and protect personnel working in large retail outlets and in services generally from contacts in the course of their jobs.
Furthermore, we have dedicated a pilot line at one of our research centers in France to the mass production and distribution, free of charge, of alcohol-based solution to hospitals, using the hydrogen peroxide produced on our Jarrie site. On the collective strength of our values of commitment, responsibility and solidarity, all of the group’s employees are rallying to handle and respond to this major and unprecedented crisis as best we can and with unwavering resolve.
For more information, visit www.arkema.com/en.
Dow to Expand Hand Sanitizer Production at Additional Sites in North America, Europe and Latin America
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an unprecedented impact around the world, and needed medical, health, and hygiene products are in short supply. After assessing the company’s capability to manufacture hand sanitizer at its facilities around the world, Dow recently announced that its manufacturing sites in Auburn, Mich.; South Charleston, W.Va.; Seneffe, Belgium; and Hortolândia, Brazil, possess the necessary raw material handling, mixing, and packaging capabilities and will produce hand sanitizer. These locations join Dow’s site in Stade, Germany, which already produced hand sanitizer for donation.
Dow does not typically produce hand sanitizer, but a large portion of the required raw materials are readily available at company sites. In addition, Dow’s asset flexibility allows for a meaningful volume of sanitizer to be produced with little to no impact to normal operations.
Dow collaborated with officials in each of the locations to understand their needs and requirements. In the U.S., the company worked with officials in Michigan and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and the Department of Homeland Security. These agencies provided useful, timely guidance as Dow completed the permitting, licensing, and raw material procurement processes.
Dow’s Auburn site has the capacity to produce approximately 15,000 lbs (7 metric tons) of hand sanitizer per week, which equates to nearly 30,000 8-oz. bottles. Similar or greater volumes are expected to be produced at the other Dow locations. When all of these locations are at full production, Dow’s collective output is expected to reach more than 440,000 lbs (200 metric tons), or the equivalent of more than 880,000 8-oz. bottles. Production of hand sanitizer will occur for approximately four weeks in these four Dow sites, after which time Dow will assess extending production based on raw material availability and market need.
All of the hand sanitizer that will be produced has been allocated, with the majority for donation to health systems and government agencies for distribution. Hand sanitizer will also be distributed to Dow production sites to help protect employees who are on the frontline and ensuring Dow’s manufacturing facilities continue to run safely.
Hand sanitizer will be donated to the following entities:
- State of Michigan
- THRIVE (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy), a co-led initiative between the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, for distribution to area hospitals and first responders in the Great Lakes Bay Region
- State of West Virginia
- City of Charleston and South Charleston, W.Va.
- Federal government of Belgium
- Public hospitals in the cities of Campinas, Hortolândia, and Jundiaí, Brazil
“We are proud to put our global assets to work to help combat the spread of the coronavirus,” said Jim Fitterling, Dow’s CEO. “The combined efforts of our five sites around the world enables us to produce and donate a tremendous amount of this much needed product to help protect human health and safety. This effort has been made possible through the swift efforts of Team Dow, in collaboration with raw material suppliers, state and federal regulatory officials and volunteers. We intend to continue producing hand sanitizer as long as raw materials are available and supply is short.”
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of strength and courage of Michiganders during this time of uncertainty, whether it’s from communities donating food, money, and resources to those that need it or from businesses using their technology to manufacture personal protective equipment,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “This action from Dow and its hardworking employees will help us protect more Michigan families and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. I’m proud to work with Dow and every business that steps up during this time to protect Michigan families.”
For more information, visit www.dow.com.
ExxonMobil Joins Global Center to Expedite Medical Innovation for Personal Protective Equipment
ExxonMobil and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) recently announced that they have initiated multi-sector and joint development projects to rapidly redesign and manufacture reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers, such as face shields and masks, which are in short supply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, ExxonMobil is applying its knowledge and experience with polymer-based technologies in combination with GCMI to facilitate development and expedite third-party production of safety equipment that can be sterilized and worn multiple times.
A new industrial-style mask is being fast-tracked for production. The design improves coverage of a health care worker’s nose and mouth and will use a replaceable cartridge system that includes a filtration fabric to prevent contact spread of the virus from the saturated filter. In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilization, thus prolonging the lifecycle of the product and addressing shortages of N95 masks.
Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When approved, production will begin immediately, with ExxonMobil supporting the identification of manufacturers familiar with the materials and process to quickly deliver the masks to doctors, nurses, and health care providers. Once approved, manufacturers indicate they will be able to produce as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour.
“Expediting advanced technologies to help those who are combatting this global pandemic is absolutely critical for society,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Co. “We’re proud to do our part by sharing our expertise and experience in material technologies and energy supplies needed to support our health care workers. It’s just one example of ExxonMobil employees working around the clock to help keep our communities safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.”
“Scaling solutions rapidly to address the global crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration,” said Tiffany Wilson, CEO of Global Center for Medical Innovation. “By partnering with ExxonMobil, we’re harnessing the expertise and capabilities of one of the world’s largest energy companies to accelerate our ability to realize that vision.”
Another product developed by GCMI is a face shield made from high-grade polymers that can withstand the harsh conditions of sterilization to enable reuse while meeting the visibility and safety requirements of current designs. The technology complies with existing safety standards, reducing the time from design to front-line use. More than 50,000 units have already been produced and are being distributed to hospitals in New York and Atlanta. Production facilities are ramping up to manufacture more than 170,000 shields per hour in the coming days.
ExxonMobil is making its experts available to provide technical expertise and delivering polypropylene from its manufacturing sites in Baytown, Texas, and Baton Rouge, La. The raw materials will be expedited, if needed, for face mask assembly. The company will also facilitate supply chain interfaces to expedite deployment.
The initiative is a collaboration between GCMI; Dr. Joanna Newton, pediatric hematologist/oncologist, Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center; and a team of scientists and researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and its Invention Studio.
To learn more, visit www.exxonmobil.com.
3M Outlines Latest Actions on COVID-19 Response
Mike Roman, chairman and CEO of 3M, issued the following update announcing additional details about the company’s capacity increases of N95 respirators, strong measures to combat price gouging and counterfeiting, and new partnerships to help protect our healthcare workers on the front lines:
“We continue to act with urgency to address this crisis from every angle, and do all we can to protect our heroic nurses, doctors and first responders. As previously communicated, beginning in January we ramped up to maximum production of N95 respirators, doubling our global output to a rate of 1.1 billion per year, or 100 million per month. This includes 35 million per month in the United States, and over just the last seven days we have delivered 10 million N95 respirators to healthcare facilities in states across the country.
“We’ve already put into motion additional investments and actions that will enable us to double our capacity once again, to 2 billion globally within the next 12 months—and some of that additional capacity will begin to come online in the next 60-90 days. In the United States, we expect to be producing N95 respirators at a rate of 50 million per month in June, a 40 percent increase from current levels.
“It’s also important to understand how we are prioritizing and shipping products to serve the most urgent needs in this pandemic. In the U.S., more than 90 percent of our N95 respirators are going to healthcare and public health, with the remaining deployed to other critical industries such as energy, food and pharmaceuticals.
“Of our U.S. supply directed toward healthcare and public health, roughly 80 percent is flowing rapidly through our healthcare distributors—primarily consisting of six large and well-known companies with incredible logistical capabilities—which is the quickest and most effective method of getting those supplies into the hands of workers. These N95 respirators are moving directly from 3M, to our healthcare distributors, to healthcare facilities and end-users. We are working closely with these partners to expedite delivery even more, which in some cases includes moving pallets directly from our plants into critical areas—as we have done over the last week to New York City and Seattle. The remaining 20 percent is being directed to the federal government, with the largest portion going to FEMA who will allocate based on their determination of the most urgent needs. The prioritization and distribution of all of our N95 respirators are being coordinated in close partnership with FEMA, and we are directly embedded with them at their headquarters to help streamline decision-making and action.
“This is not just a 3M challenge; it’s an industry-wide challenge. Even with 3M’s accelerated production combined with capacity from other manufacturers, the reality is that demand for N95 respirators is much higher than the industries’ ability to deliver. That is why we continue to explore innovative partnerships and solutions to help protect our healthcare workers in this extraordinary time.
“Given the high use rate of N95 respirators, 3M engineers are right now collaborating with several sterilization companies to find a way for hospitals to safely clean, reuse and extend the life of these respirators.
“Additionally, we are partnering with Ford to bolster production of 3M’s powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs), which are highly specialized pieces of equipment used in the most demanding healthcare environments. We’re moving forward quickly with the goal of increasing PAPR production by six-fold within the next 60 to 90 days.
“Our people are working around the clock to accelerate all of these timelines, and I want to thank our 96,000 3Mers for your tireless efforts—including those in our plants and distribution centers who are helping make and deliver critical supplies to where they’re desperately needed. We continue to prioritize the safety of our people and do all we can to support them—from remote work when possible, to social distancing and robust protocols for cleaning in our plants.
“We also continue to act on reports of counterfeiting and price gouging related to 3M’s respirators. This activity is unethical and illegal, and we’re doing all we can to end it. A week ago, I sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General and the attorneys general of every state making clear that 3M has not and will not raise its prices for respirators in this crisis, and offering our assistance in the fight against unconscionable activities. We’re actively working with law enforcement, our retail partners and others to identify and punish perpetrators. To help our customers identify and avoid inflated prices, today we are publicly publishing the list prices for our N95 respirators, and activating a hotline to help customers and end-users verify the authenticity of 3M products and report suspected fraud. We’ve also made it clear to our channel partners that 3M will not tolerate any such activity, and that we will aggressively pursue third parties that seek to take advantage of this crisis.
“As disappointing as this unethical activity is, it is equally heartening to see so many step up to help the world get through this crisis—including the many retailers and 3M customers that have voluntarily contributed or donated their excess stockpiles of respirators and other key supplies. We’ll get through this together, and 3M and our people will continue to do all we can to protect lives and defeat this disease.”
For more information, visit www.3m.com.