As an ambulance manufacturer, we have always been focused on the safety of first responders through emergency vehicle design, testing, and custom fabrication. When the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic challenged the health and well-being of our local and global community, we knew we could do more with our resources. Brad Lichtenberger, VP of Operations Type I & Type III, and Matt Kramer, Quality Systems & Continuous Improvement Manager, spearheaded an effort to produce over 500 face shields to protect our employees and donate to Van Wert, Ohio and surrounding areas. Team members from sourcing, production, engineering, quality, and safety departments pulled together to go from concept to manufacturing, and to final product within days.
Being an essential business, we have continued to operate throughout the pandemic. This has meant modifications to our production line to ensure social distancing, as well as requiring facial coverings, sanitization stations, and more. “We were investigating different protection options for our team members and found safety supplies to be in short supply,” says Matt Kramer. “Jeff Farmer, one of our Value Stream Leaders, came up with a prototype design for a face shield made of some laminating sheet protectors, Velcro strapping, and foam padding. This led to additional brainstorming, focused on how to mass produce face shields for our Braun team members. We went through multiple iterations and materials to arrive at a lightweight design that adequately covered the user’s face and did not hinder vision. The final shape and material used was inspired by hardhat mounted face shields typically used in industrial settings.”
The face shields were made using a lightweight Plexiglass material, which allowed for a curved design that would retain its shape. A pattern was created, and a CNC router used to cut blanks. Using existing infrared paint drying heaters, the cut Plexiglass blanks were heated and bent to form the curved shield. Velcro strapping was sewn to the shield and foam was added for forehead padding and comfort.
Using materials and resources on hand, we were able to produce over 500 face shields in a two-week period. Donations were made to a range of organizations that included fire departments, hospitals, assisted living facilities, dental providers, hospice, and more. Those that received face shields included:
THANK YOU to all our internal team members that made this project a reality. We are so proud to have you as part of the Braun family.