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Grace: Stepping Up Design

Amidst COVID-19, Grace Technologies quickly spun up a design for a protective face shield that’s now being manufactured at a rate of 2,000 per day for healthcare workers and company employees.

Earlier this year, Grace Technologies’ history of providing essential workers with cutting edge safety products and solutions expanded to the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. As hospitals around the globe are reeling from an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), many have resorted to fashioning their own homemade face masks and shields. In response, we ramped up our manufacturing efforts to provide essential personnel with protective face shields. We’re very proud to be contributing to a phenomenon that has swept the globe as manufacturing companies have done their part to help during the pandemic.

For decades, Grace has manufactured safety products that permanently mount onto equipment to keep people safe. Based on our available resources, our engineers swiftly devised a solution to aid in the PPE shortage. After a bit of ingenuity and material procurement, the face shield design was set in place and our production team got to work on manufacturing. We went from designing a prototype to production in a mere five days.

In mid-March, we looked at our manufacturing processes to see where we could contribute to the needs of PPE and determined that producing face shields could easily be done within our facility. After designing the concept prototype, we reviewed it with our regional emergency management agency to determine effectiveness for front line workers and upon receiving their feedback, spun up production within a week, supplying 1,200 to a local hospital that first week.

One of the goals of this project was to minimize the impact on our main product manufacturing, including reducing the risk of exposure to our employees. We also recognized that many people in our community were suddenly stuck at home and unable to work. So we took a two-pronged approach to augment our workforce. We hired seven temporary employees (high school and college age) who are children of existing employees to be onsite staff and brought in 20 outside contractors to assemble the shields and return them back to the factory within the course of two days. This enabled us to scale up production to 2,000+ face shields per day. 

We went from designing a prototype to production in a mere five days.

In addition to selling face shields to hospitals, nursing homes, and other essential businesses, we learned that many front line healthcare workers were not receiving adequate PPE to do their jobs safely. So, we created a place in the front entry of our office where people could stop by and pick up three free face shields. So far, approximately 1,000 face shields have been donated.

“When you look at what’s going on in our world, you can’t help but wonder how you can help,” said Drew Allen, VP of Strategic Development at Grace. “Health and safety have been our priority since day one. We’ve pivoted our manufacturing operations to combat COVID-19 by going from a prototype face shield to production in just five days. We’re very fortunate to be in a position that enables us to contribute to this fight. If you have the resources, it’s your duty to equip and protect those who need it most right now.”

As our nation prepares to return to work, our lives are going to be very different for the sake of health and safety. We’re currently evaluating the steps necessary for our own team to return with all the necessary precautions. For many, whether it be face masks or shields, people will need PPE to return safely to their work setting. We will continue to provide our face shields at home and abroad to aid in this transition. Currently, every Grace employee receives two face shields or cloth masks to use onsite at our buildings and overall, we’ve manufactured approximately 15,000 shields.

It’s at the core of Grace’s DNA to produce products that save lives. Many individuals were shocked and unprepared for this pandemic. However, as we’ve seen over the course of this global event, in times of crisis we all need to come together, adapt and provide aid if we’re able. That’s how we’re going to get through this together.   M

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