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CNC Machine Shop Responds to Demand for Ventilator Valves

In light of needs to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Smith and Richardson has boosted production of six components used in ventilator valves. Here’s a bit about how the shop is managing this.

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Geneva, Illinois’ Smith and Richardson is stepping up to increase production of six components it machines for ventilator valves. Demand for ventilators has risen dramatically given the need to treat patients that have contracted the coronavirus.

ventilator

Once Smith and Richardson received the emergency orders for ventilator valve components, it began to contact its customers to reschedule their orders so the six components could run across six different machines.

Rich Hoster, president, says prior to receiving these customer requests, the company noted the affect the virus was having on the economy and its operation. It began limiting work hours for most employees it refers to as team members to 40 hours per week amid concerns that customers would start curtailing orders. The company also started providing daily updates to all about changing conditions. Because it also has an operation in China, it had a first-hand look at this situation and, thus, had been dealing with the virus’ affect on that business as far back as late January.

Once Smith and Richardson received the emergency orders for ventilator valve components, it began to contact its customers to reschedule their orders so the six components could run across six different machines. “All were very understanding,” Mr. Hoster says.

Order volume has increased 400%.

The company put its team back on overtime and continued to communicate the need for all to remain healthy so that part production could continue uninterrupted. Those not feeling well were required to stay home and use their sick days. (The company also offers PTO.) To help team members with children whose schools were closing, the company paid for childcare for those who did not currently have it so they could keep working and not need to worry about it.

In addition, Mr. Hoster reached out to numerous Illinois elected officials, such as Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Lauren Underwood, Gov. JB Pritzker and State Sen. Don Dewitte as well as his local mayor and police department to make sure all were in support of the company producing these parts if a state-wide shutdown was ordered. “All were very accommodating and worked to make sure that we would be able to continue to manufacture these parts,” Mr. Hoster says.

He notes that those at the Franklin Partnership as well as Mark Denzler at the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association worked hard to educate all elected officials on the necessity of these parts. In addition, he says Miles Free and others at the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) were a great conduit of information and provided it to the team daily. Smith and Richardson created a questionnaire for any critical visitors to the plant that determined their ability to access the facility and has now started taking all team members’ temperatures daily.

The shop continues running these ventilator valve components on six machines. As of Wednesday, March 25, order volume has increased 400%, but that percentage continues to change. In addition, it has received additional orders from other customers for parts used in patient metering systems.

Mr. Hoster talks about this situation in this television interview.

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