Putting speed to need, in less than one month a cross-functional task force led by the technology team has prototyped and delivered more than 1,600 face shields and ear guards for local healthcare providers and first responders in Shippensburg, Chambersburg, Carlisle and the surrounding region, with plans to double that amount in the coming weeks.
The Shippensburg, PA, campus efforts feed into the broader Volvo Group North America pandemic outreach. The group is providing financial aid, medical supplies, purchasing expertise and other in-kind donations to nonprofits in multiple locations across the U.S. and Canada.
“At Volvo CE, we have a ton of talent, resources and capability that we can deploy to help in the fight against the virus. It is who we are; our people care for the community. They are problem solvers. And they are talented, engaged and determined to make a difference,” said Brian Rudge, scrum leader and chief project manager for large soil compaction at Volvo CE.
The face shield is now one of the most in-demand pieces of equipment. It is used as a second barrier to cover and protect the N95 respirator mask and extend the mask’s life. The shield lenses are sourced from an internal supply of replacement lenses, normally stocked for fabrication grinding, and attached to 3D-printed visor brackets to make a functional equivalent to the medical-grade face shields used in hospitals. Foam rolls, sourced from the cab assembly line, are cut and used to pad the shield visors, as well as shipped to fellow Volvo Group sites to support their face shield production activities.
The ear guards help alleviate the discomfort of wearing N95 masks for long shifts. The 3D-printed expandable attachments hold the elastic straps of the masks around the head instead of looping over the ears and causing irritation.
Both the visors and ear guards are produced on fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3-D printers, owned by the technology department or employees, at a rate of about 40 per day. Several employees are also using a thermoforming process to heat strips of plastic to form into the visor design.
Employees use social distancing and proper sanitizing measures to assemble the devices from home. Items are collected once a week for deliveries.
Additional Volvo CE employees are getting involved by writing personal notes of encouragement that are added to the delivery boxes. The site is also collecting bleach and disinfectants for local EMS departments, which are consuming supplies at a rapid rate, due to rigorous cleaning requirements.
Pulling in the purchasing power of the Volvo Group, the Shippensburg task force has connected WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital with potential vendors to supply it with 100,000 surgical masks, another standard device now in short supply.
“It is no longer ‘business as usual’ for Volvo CE or for our healthcare community. This grass-roots effort shows how our industry is able to make an impact in unprecedented ways and demonstrates the character of our employees,” said Tony Zambito, road director, Volvo CE.
Tens of thousands of PPE units are being donated from Volvo Group North America sites in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia, in the U.S., and Quebec, in Canada.