At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent very quickly that personal protective equipment (PPE) was going to be vital in order to combat the virus. Some companies in the snack and bakery industry pivoted to producing PPE, in addition to their normal lineup of products. Also, other PPE companies started making PPE specifically for the food industry.
Katie Larson, vice president of sales, Bedford Industries, Worthington, MN, says that Bedford manufactured two PPE-related products to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Bedford rapidly developed, designed, and mass produced ElastiShield face shields in the spring of 2020 when the PPE supply for hospitals, clinics, and other essential workers was strained.
“Although not a new product, Bedford’s nose wire was and is in high demand for the production of medical and non-medical face masks as well as N95/KN95 masks. We have Berry Compliant nose wire available, should your face mask require it,” she adds.
“Like many other Americans, we heard the stories from exhausted doctors and nurses on the frontline fight pleading for more resources. This struck a chord, and knew we must try to help. Thankfully we have very innovative employees who not only approached this task as their job, but saw this as a personal responsibility during crisis,” Larson finishes.
Aric Asplund, president, International Enviroguard, Dallas, TX, says that as an existing PPE manufacturer, the company learned to respond to its end-users’ need for effective masks both on and off the job.
“Diversifying and increasing CDC-compliant face masks allowed us to protect essential and nonessential workers, protect their business operations, diversify our product mix, and enable our distribution partners to succeed,” he says.
International Enviroguard has been a manufacturer of disposable protective clothing and surface protection for nearly thirty years. It has been a go-to manufacturer in times of national disasters and health crisis by supply critical PPE to workers in a variety of hazardous environments, Asplund adds. The company serves eight primary industries, including snack and bakery, and provides PPE suited for a wide variety of applications.
Dräger North America, Houston, has long produced PPE. However, due to the higher demand caused by the pandemic, Dräger significantly ramped up its global production efforts.
Mark Heuchert, marketing manager, application driven markets, Dräger, says that as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, Dräger has decided to significantly expand its production capacities for light respiratory protection. Measures include expanding an existing production site for FFP respirators in Sweden, expanding a site in South Africa, new production facilities in France, and more.
John Wilson, senior vice president, marketing and sales, safety solutions, Dräger, says that Dräger has been producing respiratory PPE for over 130 years, and during the pandemic, it decided to substantially increase its manufacturing capacities; specifically, in building a new factory dedicated to the U.S. market.
Dräger built and started a factory to produce N95 respirators in only five weeks, which provided many learning opportunities, Wilson adds. “A variety of industries rely on proper PPE to safely do their jobs every day; however, 2020 really put into perspective the necessity of not only having the right equipment, but also having access to items like N95 respirator masks, which help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he says. “In October, Dräger announced the opening of a new local Pennsylvania facility to manufacture and distribute these life-saving masks.” The company built the facility in a record five weeks.
COMPANY: Bedford Industries
SANITATION SNAPSHOT: Manufacturing ElastiShields required more than simply converting Bedford’s production lines, says Katie Larson, vice president of sales, Bedford Industries.
“In order for our protective face shield to be valuable to those who needed it most, we understood that it needed to be produced in accordance to very specific rules and regulations. Having already achieved and maintained BRC and ISO certifications gave us some experience and knowledge about the approval process. In conjunction with a third-party firm, we quickly got ElastiShield classified as a registered device,” explains Larson.
“Since the pandemic hit, we have also worked diligently to manufacture nose wire that meets customer requests; including, but not limited to: unique put-ups, special packaging, custom labels, and completing Certificates of Conformance,” Larson adds.
Available PPE includes:
- ElastiShields and nose wire
- The company could potentially produce PPE again in the future, depending on specific needs and the company’s ability to help meet those needs
COMPANY: Dorner, Husco
SANITATION SNAPSHOT: During the pandemic, Dorner partnered with Husco to deliver its 2200 series conveyor for the manufacturing of Husco’s N95 respirators.
Husco, Waukesha, WI, a company that specializes in high-performance hydraulic and electro-mechanical components, shifted some of its production to manufacturing N95 respirators. Husco is also part of MaskForce, a group that represents Southeastern Wisconsin businesses in designing, developing, and producing reusable face masks.
Before Husco could begin its manufacturing process, it needed a conveyor to move completed N95 respirators to a bagger for packaging—that’s where Dorner came in. Husco worked closely with Dorner and Crane Production Systems, also Waukesha-based, to specify and receive a 2200 Series Conveyor that very same day.
Dorner supplied Husco with a 10-foot long, 6-inch wide 2200 Series conveyor. Right before they are packaged, N95 respirators are applied with disinfectant, and the conveyor moves the respirators underneath an air knife to ensure they’re dried and to perform a final cleaning. Masks then travel to a bagger, where they are packaged and ready for shipping.
Availble PPE includes:
- N95 respirators, made out of medical grade silicon and polypropylene, which provides a low-pressure facial seal
- Masks can be sanitized and used multiple times
- Husco’s production line makes about 3,000 N95 respirators per day
SANITATION SNAPSHOT: During the pandemic, Dräger opened a new production facility in Montgomeryville, PA, that started manufacturing and distributing N95 respiratory protection masks. The over 45,000-square-foot facility began production in September 2020. The facility has three employee shifts throughout the day, operating around the clock to ensure the pass production and supply of N95 respiratory protection masks to frontline workers.
“Respiratory protection technology has been at the heart of Dräger’s Technology for Life mission since our company’s inception in 1889,” says Lothar Thielen, president and CEO, North America, Dräger. “In recent years, the demand for personal protective equipment has been substantial, and the emergence of COVID-19 greatly escalated the demand for quality safety equipment, including N95 masks. We are proud to be able to increase our production of essential life-saving equipment with our new U.S.-based facility that will produce U.S.-made masks for the brave women and men on the front lines of this unprecedented pandemic."
In addition to being 100 percent American-made, Dräger’s N95 mask design offers comfort and breathability, and is certified to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health standard for particle respiratory protection.
How Dräger created a stable production network:
- Existing production site for FFP respirators in Sweden were significantly expanded
- Site in South Africa was also expanded
- In France, a new production facility for FFP2 and FFP3 masks was built
- New production facility built in England to serve an order from the British government for respiratory protection masks
- New production facility built on the U.S. East Coast, to serve a U.S. government order for breathing masks
- In Germany, additional capacity created for blower filter devices for light respiratory protection
COMPANY: International Enviroguard
SANITATION SNAPSHOT: In addition to its existing disposable PPE, International Enviroguard decided to manufacture a variety of face masks to support various industries and applications. To enhance essential and nonessential worker safety, it offers two washable varieties and one, single-use variety. All three mask types meet the CDC’s guidelines for face coverings in public settings or essential business.
In terms of supporting wholesale bakery operations and the foodservice market, including restaurants and retail bakeries, the company offers a variety of disposable PPE that helps prevent cross-contamination of consumable items and protect workers.
Availble PPE includes:
- Washable cloth face masks
- Washable cotton blend face masks
- Three-ply pleated face masks
- Bouffant caps
- Beard restraints
- Full body coveralls