Wood & Panel

Woodworking companies combating COVID-19 in a responsible way

 Wednesday, April 8, 2020

As the world continues to struggle in the midst of uncertain situation caused by the spread of novel coronavirus, the woodworking companies are doing their bit. Woodworking and manufacturing industry too have supported the cause and several have engaged in making healthcare products and alternative products to support social distancing and improve health care facility.


Woodworking companies have transitioned to manufacturing urgently needed healthcare products. To begin with, Employees at Gator Millworks have recently used their commercial casework skills to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers across the country. The Denham Springs, Louisiana-based company told WAFB9 on April 6 that it hopes to have the process fully CNC automated by the end of the week, with the capability to produce 1,000 shields per day. Gator President Chad Foster was honored in 2018 as a Wood Industry 40 Under 40, and the company recognized in the WOOD 100: Strategies for Success.


Hillcrest Cabinets on the other hand is using its 3D printer to make face shields. The North Bay, Ontario Company is donating the shields to area healthcare workers. Employees at Kindel are using their cutting and sewing capabilities to produce standard sewn surgical mask to wear over the N-95 mask to prolong the usefulness of respirator masks.


Minnesota-based Woodchuck USA is opening up to 50 percent of its production line to demands in the medical and personal protective equipment products. Woodchuck produces high-end custom wood products including personalized gifts and phone cases. Washington-based upholstered furniture maker Kaas Tailored has transformed its entire operation around a new product: Surgical masks. Ikea is working with several suppliers to produce masks for healthcare workers.


While not making healthcare products themselves, wood machinery giant SCM says it will assist woodworking companies in switching their production applications to produce medical safety devices or other essential supplies to help mitigate supply interruptions related to COVID-19. SCM will provide priority application support such as programming, machining, and fixturing consultating. The company is also offering complimentary troubleshooting and service interventions if companies are experiencing downtime and need to be operational for their contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts.



Office furniture giant Steelcase is producing masks for use in clinical environments; facial shields for clinicians in direct contact with patients; and social screens, desktop and floor mounted, for screening and communicating with visitors at safe social distances. Fellow office furniture maker Herman Miller is allowing 30 percent of its workforce to return on a volunteer basis to make masks and mattress covers.


Canadian lean manufacturing expert and FDMC columnist Brad Cairns has switched all production at his Best Damn Doors factory to making anti-virus protective gear. “We have gone ALL-IN on this fight,” Cairns said in an email. “The entire plant is dedicated to making PPE Face Shields, and we have ramped up from the prototype phase to 5,000 units per day capacity in under a week. WE NEED TO BEAT THIS THING so we can all get back to work.”


News courtesy: www.woodworkingnetwork.com


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