How Automation Can Help Manufacturers Get PPE to Market Faster


Posted on: December 8th, 2020

By Ashley Belliveau

From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, one of the biggest concerns was the availability of resources. As we’ve grown to live with and understand COVID-19 and its widespread effects on the economy, the fear of scarcity is still a significant concern for the general public and healthcare facilities. This is especially true when it comes to the availability of crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) due to delays in the supply chain. Moving forward, companies and individuals alike will depend on manufacturing companies to quickly and efficiently supply PPE to maintain protection during this ever-changing economic landscape.

As manufacturers are considering where to invest their money, many are quickly learning the valuable role that evolving technology, including automation, has on production and the long-term benefits it can provide to their bottom line. It’s no surprise then that a recent Honeywell survey noted that 42 percent of manufacturers plan to implement automation technologies in the next year. To further illustrate, we’ve outlined some of the ways automation can help manufacturers get PPE to market faster and ensure product availability across the supply chain.

Pile of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shield, platic gloves, and respirator.

Reduce Human Error

Human error equals time, and when demand is high, time is of the essence. As manufacturers scale up and workloads increase with the market’s needs, automated solutions can help manufacturers remain agile, ensure process consistency, reduce costly mistakes and downtime, and get PPE to the necessary suppliers quickly without risking delays from human error. Not to mention, human error and process weaknesses are exacerbated by fatigue, burnout, lack of time, and medical illness, all of which are on the rise with the advent of COVID-19.

Human error can be significantly reduced with the use of automation, and potential machine errors can be predicted long before they happen. Instead of human error delaying operations and taking over valuable resources, regulatory requirements and preventative maintenance can be weaved seamlessly into automated operational processes. As a result, verification and validation will be more manageable and the time-to-market can be reduced.

Saves Overhead Costs and Time

Many companies experienced a decline in revenue due to the pandemic, which means they are likely looking for ways to optimize their investments. Automating your PPE manufacturing processes means having employees complete fewer historically manual tasks, many of which were redundant, physically taxing, non-value-added, and expensive. When money is saved on expensive labor resources and overhead, it can be allocated to investing in automated processes.

Additionally, by freeing your workforce from mundane tasks, such as assembly, testing, and inspection, it allows them to more thoroughly contribute to complex job duties, such as innovation, critical thinking, and customer engagement―all of which are crucial to addressing the challenges caused by COVID-19. Moreover, reducing your workforce and increasing automation can provide the added benefit of easier social distancing and decreased social interaction, which is top of mind for nearly every employer as they aim to keep their employees safe.

Allows for Operational Flexibility

COVID-19 unquestionably placed pressure on manufacturers to improve processes and identify their operational vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, for many, this meant shutting their doors because they couldn’t scale with the market needs or weren’t already prepared to automate workflows.

Luckily, for those that haven’t yet adopted or are looking to expand their automation capabilities, automated solutions can be implemented in nearly every stage of the product development lifecycle, from manufacturing to assembly and shipping. This allows for operational flexibility without impacting hourly shifts, and means that scaling up and down can occur quickly at any stage of the manufacturing process to adapt to the shifting market demands. When most or all parts of the PPE manufacturing process are automated, it can reduce supply chain disturbances and speed up processes to meet critical project deadlines and get supplies to distributors.

Automate Your PPE Manufacturing Processes

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, automation was already on the rise across industries due to increased demand from e-commerce. But with COVID-19 putting a spotlight on process inefficiencies, customer needs, and changing priorities, manufacturers now recognize the urgent need to get different types of PPE to market at a record pace, especially as almost 56 percent of consumers expect to purchase their products in bulk.

At SDC, we understand this critical need of providing you with the tools and equipment needed to scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our expertise in designing and building automated solutions for a variety of industries, including the medical and pharmaceutical fields, means we help keep the economy moving forward by providing solutions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you need a large-scale system or a smaller custom machine, contact SDC today to explore how we can help you innovate efficient PPE manufacturing solutions.