Two months ago, you may have thought PPE was some annoying internet slang. Now we all know it stands for Personal Protection Equipment, and hospital employees are at risk because of a shortage as they fight the coronavirus.
Unique Fabricating Inc. in Auburn Hills quickly stepped and is now producing an average of 30,000 face shields a day.
Brad Hazen, vice president of engineering and product development, says Unique Fabricating was initially approached by a company out of Grand Rapids for an order of 750,000 face shields. The order has now grown to 1 million.
He says he does not feel comfortable naming the company placing the order.
“We see the demand in the market to some of the hospitals, and the demand is high,” Hazen says.
He says if that gets increased, the company will rise to meet that demand.
As of March 27, the first week of the order, 7,800 shields had been made and loaded on trucks.
Depending on the day, 25-30 people are working on the order.
The shields will wind up in Michigan hospitals in a month, the projected completion of the million-unit order. Almost every hospital in the state will end up with some of these shields, which will help overworked and undersupplied doctors and nurses, especially in Metro Detroit.
What makes Unique Fabricating perfect to step up is that, unlike most manufacturers, it doesn’t have a catalog of items. Like its name says, it designs and makes unique products that solve problems. Customers range from automakers to household appliance makers and more.
Many times, smaller companies are more flexible and can pivot to new products faster than multi-billion-dollar companies. Unique Fabrications is not the only business that fits that bill.
For similar companies who want to use their tools to help the medical supply shortage Hazen has some advice.
Make sure those looking to fill orders know your capabilities and skillset so they can connect what they need with you can provide, he says.
“I believe there is a large need and we are going to fill it,” says Hazen. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and medical professionals being impacted by the virus outbreak.”