Friday, March 27, 2020

Respirator plant going strong

Good story about the 3M plant in Aberdeen, South Dakota that is making respirators:
...In the U.S., the facility at Aberdeen, a city of 28,000, was built in 1974. The 450,000-square-foot factory and a sister plant in Omaha together produce 400 million respirators of myriad types annually. Within the next year, they will be producing many more. 
When Rehder got that call from his bosses in January, he says, “basically, we were at that point where we needed to start every machine up. It happened pretty much instantaneously. That’s what this plant does.” The facility quickly organized offsite and online job fairs. Hires had to undergo training and pass a medical exam before starting work. The payroll now counts more than 700. 
Rehder has also been bringing in new equipment to build additional assembly lines. The mask components are readily available because most of them, including the filters, are made in-house. The lines that assemble respirator cups, filters, nose clips, and nose foam are loaded with robots and other automation, while humans tend to packaging and other tasks that allow more easily for social distancing. No workers have yet gotten sick, Rehder says. At home, his wife has been patient—though, he jokes, “when we try to sit down and watch a movie and I get six calls in between, I get a couple of looks.”...
Stay strong, Aberdeen, and keep making those masks....

(I like how this plant manager isn't complaining about not having sufficient skilled workers, he's just hiring folks and training them...)

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