They had one goal, one 3D printer and eight weeks and they can now say:
Collins Aerospace's parent company Raytheon Technologies, led by CEO Greg Hayes, committed to producing 25,000 headbands for face shields for health care professionals due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Collins Aerospace site located in Jamestown was one of the first facilities to start printing the headbands.
"We started April 1 and finished May 19, and during that time period we produced 603 sets and it was manned 24/7," said Troy Hanson, an associate director at Collins Aerospace.
Dustin Scheer, a Collins Aerospace engineer, spearheaded the initiative in Jamestown. Hanson said Scheer enthusiastically took ownership of the initiative, contacting the company’s central engineering team. Within 24 hours, Scheer had helped produce the first batch of headbands for the face shields. Hanson said Scheer led the engineering team effort to establish a tracking log and enlisted support for 24/7 printing. Scheer also collaborated with the team to ship the product weekly.
"I would just like to put a plug in for those that supported this," Hanson said. "There were people in the factory that helped us with the logistics. It was a total team effort - there's a lot of good people in the business that made it happen."
Hanson and Wayne Jones, a general manager at Collins Aerospace, also extended thanks to: Wes Stegmiller, Jeremy Vigil, Zach Meyer, Rendae Flaig, Brenda Hoggarth, Darren Perleberg and Peggy Fettig for their dedication to the company-wide initiative.
Collins Aerospace had a single 3D printer at its disposal that can operate without any human intervention for 12 hours. Hanson said the printer averaged 12 headbands produced per every 24 hours. Prior to the initiative, the Jamestown plant used the 3D printer to make one-off components as an engineering and development tool - printing conceptual models of new components for customers. Jones said the eight week project was the first time the engineering team used the printer to produce parts at high volume on a large scale.
Jones and Hanson said the printer was printing continuously for eight weeks to hit the 600 mark. Company-wide, Hanson said, there were approximately 70 printers between the 36 sites that participated in the initiative. Raytheon and its subsidiaries have since stopped the printers but are prepared to restart if a second wave of COVID-19 hits the country.
"We made the piece parts of the straps that go around your head and support the bottom of the face shield," Jones said. "We hit the number that we committed to. We staffed it seven days a week and we did as many as we can until we hit the number. We then shipped (the headbands) to our sister company Pratt and Whitney and they assembled them into face visors. We can ramp back up if need be but I believe the global shortage is reduced now."
Jones said after Pratt and Whitney assembled the face shields, the product was certified and distributed to 27 health care and emergency response organizations. Boston, Hartford, Conn., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Denver and Los Angeles were among those to receive shipments.
The Jamestown health care facilities were not on the list to receive a shipment of face shields but that did not stop Jones from helping out the local community.
"There's a local elderly nursing home here in Jamestown where there was a shortage of face masks - not shields but just the paper cloth face masks," Jones said. "We acquired some from our central location and we donated 250 masks to the local nursing home just to help them there."