The counteroffensive against the pandemic entered its next phase earlier this week, when 90-year-old Maggie Keenan became the first Brit to receive the initial dose of the United Kingdom’s rollout of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, the U.S. effort is also moving forward, with some big milestones coming up this month. Here’s what the timeline looks like.
Dec. 10: The Vaccine Advisory Board at the Food and Drug Administration will meet to consider emergency approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Dec. 11 or 12 is likely to see the beginning of U.S. inoculations for the Pfizer vaccine, since they are expected to begin 24–48 hours after FDA approval.
Dec. 17: The Vaccine Advisory Board is expected to consider Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
Dec. 18 or 19: Moderna’s vaccine is set to reach patients.
End of December: 40 million doses of vaccine are expected to be delivered by Pfizer and Moderna, which will cover approximately 20 million people.
January or February 2021: Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine is expected to come online, offering additional options and capacity for COVID-19 vaccines, while deliveries of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are expected to multiply nationally. The goal is to have another 80 million people vaccinated during these two months.
By June 2021: 600 million vaccines in total are expected to be produced by a range of manufacturers, which means that everyone who wants a vaccine will have access to it at little to no cost.
Pfizer is working around the clock to ensure an efficient and speedy distribution of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, pending emergency use authorization in the United States. To do so, it has developed an innovative packaging and storage solution that just might help save the world.
The challenge: Beyond developing a vaccine in the shortest time frame ever attempted, researchers at Pfizer must ensure that hundreds of millions of vials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine are kept frozen at extreme temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius) as they are shipped across the globe.
The solution: Pfizer got to work designing, engineering and manufacturing temperature-controlled thermal shippers that use dry ice to maintain the required temperature until the point of vaccination.
Once in transit: Pfizer will monitor GPS-enabled thermal sensors in every thermal shipper from a control tower, which will track the location and temperature of each vaccine shipment along its preset route. That means Pfizer can prevent unwanted deviations before they happen.
Once on site: After arriving at the points of use, providers will have three options for storage:
- Ultralow temperature freezers, which are commercially available now and can extend shelf life for up to six months.
- Refrigeration units commonly available in hospitals, which can safely store the vaccine for up to five days at 2–8 degrees Celsius.
- The same Pfizer thermal shippers that carry doses during shipping; these can serve as temporary storage units for up to 15 days as long as they are refilled with dry ice.
The last words: “We have developed detailed logistical plans and innovative tools to support effective vaccine transport, storage and continuous temperature monitoring. Leveraging those resources and based on our track record, we are very confident in our ability to distribute large quantities of our potential COVID-19 vaccine to customers with different infrastructures in all parts of the country and all markets across the globe,” said Pfizer Vice President, BioPharma Global Supply Chain Tanya Alcorn.
“Pfizer is proving yet again that manufacturers’ ingenuity knows no bounds. The progress they have made on a vaccine alone is incredible, and the innovative way they have now addressed these distribution challenges is impressive. It shows manufacturers’ unwavering commitment to saving lives and helping to lead America out of this crisis,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
Ever wonder how disposable face masks get made? Recently, NAM staff photographer David Bohrer visited a Hershey facility in Pennsylvania where workers are making masks for local schools, food banks, homeless shelters and more—producing about 60,000 per month for donation. They gave him the full tour, where he snapped these mask-makers in action.
Here’s how they do it. First, workers combine three layers of nonwoven fabric into one large piece. Why three? Because you need a layer on both sides of the electrostatic filter to protect it.
(The candy pattern adds style to safety.)
Then workers pleat the fabric and insert the nose bridge. The outer edges get folded and sonic welded. And only then do you cut out individual masks from the three-layer fabric.
After the individual masks are cut, workers inspect each mask by hand.
Next, they use a machine to sonic weld the ear loops to the masks. When Hershey started making masks, workers did this by hand, but it later purchased a machine that speeds this process up. In the middle of a pandemic, every second counts.
Lastly, the masks get sterilized, bagged, labeled with a date and lot code and sent on their way.
To date, Hershey has donated more than 440,000 masks to more than 65 community organizations and nearly two dozen public school districts in central Pennsylvania.
“PPE is critical to our daily operations, and when acquiring masks became challenging earlier this year, we quickly pivoted and made the decision to buy our own equipment to make masks,” Hershey Vice President of International Supply Chain & Manufacturing Will Bonifant says. “Sharing our masks with our employees’ families and the broader community was just a natural extension of how we’ve always supported the communities in which we live and work.”
Steve Schulte began his career running Porta-King Building Systems, a portable building manufacturer, five decades ago. At the time, the Montgomery City, Missouri, business had just 10 employees—but as it grew, Schulte decided to offer health insurance to his employees to attract and retain a high-quality workforce.
Over time, Schulte became an advocate of providing benefits like health care to manufacturing employees—and when the NAM started developing NAM Health Care to extend affordable coverage to small manufacturers, Schulte wanted a seat at the table. Today, he serves as the chair of the NAM Health Care program’s governing committee.
“I thought it was very important for small businesses to be part of a larger group to help improve the cost of their health care,” said Schulte. “Knowing how expensive it is in today’s market—as a small manufacturer, it’s very difficult to get a competitive rate. Being a part of a larger group offers a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to get involved.”
How it works: NAM Health Care is an association health plan created by the NAM, Mercer and UnitedHealthcare. It allows manufacturers with fewer than 100 employees to band together to purchase affordable coverage that is usually available only to larger companies. Offering a range of benefits and savings, the program is tailored to manufacturers and provides tools that make the process of offering health benefits easy.
NAM Health Care is operated by the plan’s governing committee, which is made up of mostly small and medium-sized manufacturers. The committee manages the NAM’s medical, dental, vision and life plans with the support of Mercer and UnitedHealthcare.
The benefits: While Schulte’s company is too large to take advantage of NAM Health Care, he knows that the initiative still provides important benefits for his company. By helping his smaller suppliers attract and retain high-caliber employees, he can strengthen his own supply chain and the manufacturing workforce as a whole.
The last word: “As time goes on and it becomes more well known in the manufacturing community that the NAM has this offering, it will continue to grow,” said Schulte. “I’m a believer in the program. I’m delighted to be a part of the beginning stages and to be able to see the success we’ll continue to have.”
To learn more about the program, go here.
How are supply chains holding up under the stresses of COVID-19? How are companies preparing their supply chains for the future? As manufacturing endures a difficult year, these are key questions for all of us.
Fortunately, the new 2020 Digital Supply Chain Survey—a research initiative from Grant Thornton, the Manufacturing Leadership Council and the NAM—is here to tell us what we need to know.
The good news: While COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption in economic activity—and three-quarters of survey respondents reported some level of supply chain disruption—60% of respondents say that the disruption was only “minor.”
Still, according to the report, “around half had to rapidly reforecast demand, almost a third had to reduce production and two in five began to identify new suppliers as their existing global networks tried to cope with the initial disruption.”
The growth areas: The survey also identified a few areas where companies need to invest or make further progress:
- There’s room for growth in identifying supply chain risks (only 23% of companies called themselves “very capable” of doing so) and in accelerating digital maturity (just 17% of companies say their supply chains are fully integrated).
- More than half of companies—approximately 53%—say they are already beginning or considering redesigns of their entire supply chain processes.
Transformational tech: Companies are increasingly focused on making use of new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning systems and advanced analytics that would allow them to respond better to challenges—from shifts in markets to disasters like COVID-19.
The bottom line: “While transformational initiatives were already underway in many manufacturing supply chains before the COVID crisis, the lessons learned so far this year have clearly given those plans a new sense of urgency and a clearer focus for the years ahead.”
In any other year, a hurricane might be the worst catastrophe facing a manufacturer. And though all bets are off in 2020, hurricanes are still a major hazard. So how can leaders protect their operations and help their employees stay safe?
The National Association of Manufacturers’ Emergency Response Committee hosted a webinar recently to answer these important questions. It featured speakers from SBP, which works on the ground to support preparedness and resiliency; Kirby Corporation, a tank barge operator based in Texas; and Good360, a leader in philanthropy and purposeful giving. Here is some of their advice.
For workers: SBP Community Engagement Manager Amanda Gallina laid out important steps that individuals can take—and that companies can promote to their employees. These include:
- Collecting hazard and emergency information from local and national sources like news and weather apps, NOAA Weather Radio and the Red Cross Emergency app.
- Making a household emergency plan, which should include stockpiling supplies, establishing communication methods and emergency contact numbers, and creating an evacuation and sheltering plan.
- Identifying and protecting important documents by storing them in a fire- and water-proof box, while giving extra copies to a trusted attorney or friend. You can also use secure online cloud storage as another backup.
- Getting the right insurance by identifying any gaps in coverage and asking your agent the right questions.
- Protecting your property by taking a home inventory of your possessions using tools like myHOME, UPHelp Home Inventory and Sortly. You can also make proactive improvements to your home, such as flood protections and green infrastructure, using tools like the FEMA Property Protection Toolkit or dontgoof.org.
For businesses: Kirby Corporation Vice President of Public and Government Affairs Matt Woodruff shared what his company learned while mobilizing for Hurricane Sally in New Orleans. Here are his recommendations for other companies:
- Make sure new employees understand the hurricane plan well ahead of hurricane season.
- Create a checklist of duties for that must be performed, starting with the first day of hurricane season.
- Set up remote work sites for affected areas and employees.
- Provide support to the families of employees who live in affected areas to ensure their safety.
Woodruff also provided recommendations specific to his industry, including:
- Create vessel and facility inspection and response teams that can be repurposed to support affected families after a hurricane or other disaster.
“A lot of what you heard about preparing for your home is also what you do to prepared for your company,” said Woodruff. “You need to have a plan. That plan needs to be written, communicated, understood and exercised. And you need to be prepared to implement that plan early.”
Helping others: There are also plenty of ways for manufacturers to support people and companies after a disaster. Good360 Vice President of Disaster Recovery and Philanthropy Jim Alvey discussed how his organization partners with socially responsible companies, sourcing much-needed goods and distributing them through a network of diverse nonprofits.
“The goal for Good360 with the NAM members is to make it easy to donate products,” said Alvey. “And I’m talking about year-round—not just in a knee-jerk reaction to disasters. . . . If you have product in your warehouses taking up space, or you’re paying for disposal, Good360 can turn it into products that can help the community.”
The current mission? Getting large quantities (15,000 -20,000) of cleaning products—including buckets, cleaning supplies, cleaning tools and garbage bags—to aid the Hurricanes Laura and Delta recovery efforts in Louisiana. You can contact at Alvey at [email protected] to help.
The term “Symbiotic Simulation” might sound like a science fiction plot point, but in fact, it’s an incredibly useful framework that makes manufacturing processes more efficient by connecting digital tools with real-world facilities. Working with key partners, the Powertrain Manufacturing Engineering group at Ford Motor Company conceptualized and delivered this software solution. And this month, at the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s 2020 ML Awards, the MLC recognized the company’s work in developing it.
What it is: Symbiotic Simulation—or SymSim—is an evolution of discrete event simulation, which is when experts experiment on a computer model representing a facility in order to find improvement opportunities. Usually, that involves manually downloading data, reformatting it and pushing the data into a model ready for optimization.
SymSim shortens that process by making a direct connection to the data that is produced by facilities, pulling data out automatically to help the company understand what’s happening and how its goals can be accomplished more efficiently.
Why it matters: First, connecting the digital model more closely to the physical facility improves the quality of the simulation, which leads to better decisions and results. The second benefit is time. Traditionally, downloading the data, cleaning and processing it would take a week—but the SymSim process can do it almost instantaneously.
The long road: The idea was hatched in 2015, in a Ph.D. project by a member of the company’s PTME group. Once the Ph.D. project ended, the PTME group decided to build it out further, then added a few collaborators: software partner Lanner Group, as well as the University of East London and a team at sustainable manufacturing consultancy HSSMI.
The benefits: In general, the project has helped to improve efficiency and deliver savings by reducing overtime and eliminating costly delays. While Ford just launched the proof of concept in 2019, the project has already saved more than 1,000 hours of engineering time and around $2.7 million. In one Ford plant that was launching a brand-new engine assembly line, the company ran a daily meeting to show—in just 15 minutes—where the bottlenecks had been the day before.
The last word: “Sometimes it’s necessary to revolutionize,” said Ford Simulation & Process Optimization Leader Michael Higgins. “With these technologies, you can get stuck with making incremental changes. Sometimes you need to step back and ask how you can improve processes and leverage technological improvements on a grand scale. That’s exactly what we did.”
Along with many other leaders in manufacturing, Higgins will be one of the speakers at Rethink, the Manufacturing Leadership Council’s virtual summit on navigating disruption and seizing opportunities in the digital era. The summit will take place on October 27 to 29, 2020, and you can register here.
Many people who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic face a terrifying prospect: that they may not be able to pay for their lifesaving medications. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly and Company recognized that people with diabetes would be worried about affording insulin, so it stepped in to help all those in need—whether or not they have insurance.
The big idea: In April, the company introduced the Lilly Insulin Value Program $35 copay card to help people struggling financially—and while Lilly introduced it as a COVID-19 relief initiative, the company quickly decided to make it an ongoing program. In addition, starting January 2021, people enrolled in participating Medicare Part D plans will be able to access their Lilly insulin for no more than $35 per monthly prescription as part of the Senior Savings Model.
As a result, everyone—whether they have commercial insurance, Medicare Part D or no insurance at all—can opt in to receive their Lilly insulin for $35 per monthly prescription. For those who received the copay card in 2020, they simply need to re-enroll in the program in January 2021. For seniors, it’s important they enroll in a participating Medicare Part D plan during open enrollment (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7, 2020) to ensure they are eligible for this benefit.
A long record of affordability measures: Lilly has always been committed to making sure people get the insulin they need. In 2018, it unveiled the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center—a call center open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, with live operators fielding questions about insulin affordability and finding solutions for people who don’t know where to turn. The company has been able to drop pharmacy prices for some insulin users and has donated 100,000 insulin KwikPens® to nonprofits. And it is committed to solving even the largest challenges.
“If someone calls and says they’re desperate for insulin and they’re almost out, we’ll find a way to provide them with insulin,” said Lilly Diabetes Communications Senior Advisor Greg Kueterman. “We don’t want people rationing insulin. It’s not good for them, it’s not good for their health, and it’s not good for society.”
A new campaign: To get the message out about Lilly’s new initiative, the company is kicking off a program called “Insulin Affordability: Learn. Act. Share.”—encouraging people to learn about Lilly’s insulin affordability solutions, take action if they need the help and share information with friends and relatives.
The last word: “We want people to know that there’s now a solution out there for everybody,” said Kueterman. “No one needs to pay more than $35 per monthly prescription for their Lilly insulin if they take the right actions.”
You can learn more at insulinaffordability.com or by calling the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at (1-833) 808-1234.
Manufacturing is a key driver of the American economy—but how does manufacturing in the United States stack up against the rest of the world?
Recently, The Manufacturing Institute and KPMG—a professional services firms providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services—released a new assessment of the cost of doing business in the manufacturing sector for the United States and 16 other major manufacturing exporting nations around the globe.
High costs, but high value: The study found that primary costs (compensation, property, utilities, taxes and interest rates) in the U.S. are on average 16% higher than in the other markets—yet the U.S. ranks fairly high on the list overall at #5.
- Another number bears that out: over the past decade, foreign direct investment in U.S. manufacturing has jumped from $569.3 billion in 2006 to a record $1,785.7 billion in 2019.
The benefits of tax reform: Tax reform made the U.S. a more desirable location for manufacturers, the study found. It compared how the U.S. would have ranked with its pre-reform corporate tax rate of 40% (the combined federal and state tax rate) instead of the post-reform corporate rate of 27%. With the old rate, the U.S. would have ranked only 11th.
The benefits of skilled workers: A major U.S. advantage is its supply of high-skilled workers. According to the study, the U.S. ranks at the top of the list for real value added per employee, along with Ireland and Switzerland. As manufacturing has become increasingly advanced, the need for sophisticated employees keeps growing.
While it’s true that American manufacturing requires more skilled workers, as The Manufacturing Institute has previously shown, the existing workforce is still a big draw due to its productivity.
The bottom line: The United States is an attractive location for manufacturers, despite relatively high costs, because of high worker productivity and the overall business environment.
The last word: “We need to continue to push the envelope of technological innovation and workforce development and recruitment in the manufacturing sector,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers and director of the Center for Manufacturing Research at The Manufacturing Institute. “These efforts will serve to strengthen the sector overall, but also help to maintain the nation’s global competitiveness.”
Last night, the 2020 Manufacturing Leadership Awards Gala recognized some of the most innovative manufacturers in the country, at a virtual event hosted by the NAM’s Manufacturing Leadership Council. The MLC is a global business leadership network dedicated to preparing manufacturers for the opportunities and challenges posed by digitization, automation and technical advancement.
The winners: Presented to individuals and companies in 12 categories, including Sustainability Leadership and Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Leadership, the awards honor world-class manufacturing achievements. You can find the full list of honorees here.
The word from the MLC: “Creativity. Innovation. Excellence. Enlightened leadership. These are the qualities that drive the people of manufacturing to create a better future,” said MLC Co-Founder and Executive Director David Brousell in his opening remarks. “In doing so, they help themselves, their companies and our collective industry improve the quality of life for everyone. . . . All across this country, innovation in manufacturing is on the march.”
Manufacturer of the Year: The MLC honored two manufacturers with Manufacturer of the Year awards: agricultural chemical and seed company Corteva Agriscience, and Humtown Products, which was honored for its work to popularize 3D printing in sand cores. You can check out our profile of Humtown here.
Manufacturing Leader of the Year: This award went to Gerald Johnson, executive vice president, global manufacturing at GM, for his leadership in GM’s pivot to ventilator production in a partnership with Ventec Life Systems, code named Project V.
High Achiever Award Winners: The judges also presented high achiever awards to one winner in each category. Here’s the list:
- Lockheed Martin Corporation in the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leadership category for F-35 Augmented Reality Shop Floor Mobility
- Merck & Co., Inc., in the Collaborative Innovation Leadership category for Digital Fingerprinting
- Humtown Products in the Engineering and Production Technology Leadership category for Commercialization of 3D Printing in the Metal Casting Industry
- IBM in the Enterprise Integration Technology Leadership category for Migrating Supply Chain Quality Workload to Cloud
- Cooley Group in the Industrial Internet of Things Leadership category for Transforming Legacy Machinery into Smart Tech
- Hologic Inc. in the Operational Excellence category for Building a Culture of Operational Excellence
- Starkey Hearing Technologies in the Supply Chain Leadership category for Supply Chain Management Transformation
- The Boeing Company in the Sustainability Leadership category for Diverting Waste to Landfill While Upcycling Excess Airplane Carbon Fiber
- Nexteer Automotive in the Talent Management category for the Manufacturing Engineering Global Talent Management and Training Program