Manufacturers – Can You Make Personal Protective Equipment?

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Manufacturers – Can You Make Personal Protective Equipment?

Economy News | March 29, 2020
By: Chris Geehern

If your manufacturing company could potentially contribute to making personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health-care professionals fighting COVID-19, state officials want to hear from you.

Frustrated by what Governor Charlie Baker called a “messy thicket” of issues impeding efforts to get masks, surgical gowns and other protective items to doctors, nurses and EMTs,  the commonwealth is working to help manufacturing companies become part of the supply chain for protective gear.

Massachusetts has formed an Emergency Response Team (ERT) to mobilize manufacturing assets in the Commonwealth on behalf of the COVID-19 response.   The ERT, part of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative co-chaired by Secretary Michael Kennealy and Mike Tamasi of AIM-member Accurounds, is seeking companies with knowledge of both textile, functional fabrics and 3-D/Additive prototyping and production assets across Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the governor yesterday unveiled a new web site that provides an entry point for local manufacturers to get more information on adapting their businesses to produce more equipment here in Massachusetts.

Several AIM-member companies are already moving forward with PPE manufacturing.

Boston-based footwear company New Balance said last week it is preparing to use its New England manufacturing facilities to meet the surging demand for face masks. The company is producing prototypes for the protective masks in its Lawrence plant and hopes to scale production using other regional factories soon.

Another Lawrence company, sportswear maker 99 Degrees Custom, is also looking to make masks and gowns.

In Holyoke, 95-year-old paper converter Hazen Paper reports that it is gearing up to produce hand sanitizer and disinfecting cleaning wipes.

And Ahead, a New Bedford maker of sports head wear and apparel, is working to see if it can assemble some light-duty face masks. The company is doing permeability testing to see if its materials could be used.

“The strength of Massachusetts manufacturers has always been innovation and creativity and that’s what we’re seeing in the face of COVID-19,” said John Regan, President and CEO of AIM.

The state and federal governments have pledged expedited regulatory approvals for companies that can meet supply needs for critical products.

Massachusetts has already spent more than $28 million on personal protective equipment and medical equipment alone, Baker wrote in a Thursday letter to President Donald Trump.

In that letter, Baker sought additional federal help for Massachusetts through a formal major disaster declaration. That move would provide financial and other aid to cities, towns, state agencies and nonprofits.

Manufacturers who believe they can produce personal protective equipment may contact Regan at AIM (jregan@aimnet.org) for more information.