INDUSTRY NEWS: Genie to produce protective gear for Seattle-area hospital to combat COVID-19

Team members worked to develop solutions that would address the need for medical equipment

April 15, 2020
Genie team members making face coverings
Genie team members making face coverings for Seattle-area hospital. Image: Genie

As communities, states, and countries around the globe continue to address the health crisis created by COVID-19, personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical personnel and first responders remains in high demand. To help address this need in their community, team members from Genie, a Terex brand, headquartered in Redmond, Washington, have been working on a concept that will allow them to produce medical equipment for a local hospital. 

The effort began with a face shield design developed by Jim Donaldson, Genie Engineering Design Manager, Terex AWP. Donaldson explains: “After watching a video about the types of medical equipment our hospitals needed, I thought we would be able to make the face shields that go over the N95 masks. I went to the store and bought a sponge, bungee cord, and a poster that came packaged in a plastic tube. I cut up the tube to make the shield, and then I attached the sponges and bungee cord.” 

Donaldson shared his idea with Matt Fearon, Genie President, Terex AWP, who agreed it was a concept worth exploring. Working with team members from project management, engineering, and sourcing, the initial design was refined, and long-time supplier, Allegis Corp., stepped in to source the materials necessary, even developing a custom tool to stamp out the shield shape. 

With the design updated, Fearon, Donaldson, and a small team of engineers and project managers then met with representatives from Overlake Medical Center, located in Bellevue, Washington, to gain a better understanding of the hospital’s needs, feedback on the face shield design, as well as to determine if there were any other ways the Genie team could help.  

As a result of that meeting—and with the knowledge that the need for PPE is indeed great and immediate—the Genie team expects to begin production of the face shields in Redmond on April 14. The material the team has on hand should be enough to produce an initial 4,000 to 5,000 face shields for Overlake Medical Center. Whether the Genie team will produce more than the initial donation of face shields will depend on availability of the material, as well as the need. 

However, the team has found other ways to help. In addition to the face shields, the Genie team developed a process for manufacturing face coverings using material provided by the hospital and a heat-sealing process to create seams and pleats. “Finding the material to create the bands that go over the ears was actually a real challenge due to the high demand,” explains Roger Bowie, Terex Business Systems (TBS) Manager. “But the team thought through that problem until they had a solution, identifying a way to use material that was readily available to make fabric strips that could be used for ties.” Bowie adds that when production begins on April 14, the team expects to produce one face covering every minute. 

Additionally, Genie engineers have used the company’s 3-D printing capabilities to make some custom parts, which allowed critical hospital PPE to be put back into service quickly. 

“Our Genie team was anxious to help, the Overlake team pointed us in the direction of the highest need and together, we made great things happen,” said Fearon. “I am proud of, but not surprised by, the initiative and innovation of our team members. They heard about a critical need, and they didn’t hesitate to step up to the challenge—they focused on finding solutions, and they acted quickly because they knew the need was urgent. Our team in China jumped in by air shipping 1,000 N95 masks at a time when there was a severe shortage of masks in the U.S. These are unprecedented times and overcoming the challenges we face locally, and globally, will require everyone to do what they can to help. I am excited that we have found such meaningful ways to help our local community and could not be prouder to lead this team in good times and in challenging times.”

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Sourced from a Genie news release

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