Penrod Blog

Manufacturing Vital Medical Devices and Products During a Pandemic

Throughout history, adversity has inspired different industries, rivals, and even competitors to cooperate for the greater good.

History buffs point to The York Plan as a defining example.

In the words of a York resident, “Have you heard of the York Plan? That’s us. We pretty much saved the world.”1

The setting was bucolic York County, Pennsylvania. The appropriately named “York Plan” was a 15-point initiative created by W. S. Shipley in the late 30’s to re-train workers, pool resources and coordinate production among industrial manufacturers in the area.

The mission? A call for companies to collaborate rather than compete during World War II. The York Plan became a national movement that had an immeasurable impact on the success of the war effort.

Like the York Plan nearly 90 years ago, essential manufacturers, retailers, and software companies are joining forces to meet the great challenge of keeping Coronavirus at bay.

Which Industries are Essential?

In order to ensure supply chains aren’t disrupted, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has designated workers in certain industries as “critical to the infrastructure.”

Among workers in healthcare and public health, law enforcement, and public works, the federal government specifies “critical manufacturing” as an essential infrastructure workforce. CISA defines this to include:

“Workers necessary for the manufacturing of materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base. Additionally, workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains.”2

In order to meet the demand caused by a growing pandemic, the federal government has provided some assistance. However, strategies executed at the state and grassroots level hope to speed solutions that will flatten the curve

States are Getting Creative

To supplement assistance from the federal government, some states have taken matters into their own hands. In the case of Illinois, the Manufacturers Association matches industrial companies capable of shifting production with providers in need, helping them navigate federal rules. Furthermore, they’ve set up a website for manufacturers interested in producing products, like masks (surgical and respirator), ventilators, and hand sanitizer.

Grassroots Support

Grassroot organizations like #StoptheSpread aim to bring together key players in the private sector to support the medical system. Additionally, they provide training and coordinate donations.

Interesting Manufacturing Examples

General Motors

While General Motors is currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they are partnering with medical device manufacturer Ventec life systems. GM will provide vital logistics, purchasing, and manufacturing knowledge to help Ventec scale production of it’s ventilators and respittory care products.

It’s unclear whether GM facilities will be used to manufacture the equipment.


Singapore based PC hardware company Razer has directed his teams to convert manufacturing assemblies to produce surgical masks, rather than gaming mice, PCs, or headphones. The company plans to donate up to 1 million masks to multiple countries in need. Initial shipments are being donated to Singapore, but they are accessing where additional support needs to be prioritized.


Hanes converted a facility to begin producing cotton surgical masks instead of t-shirts, underwear, socks, and sweatpants – in less than a week. Hanes is part of a greater consortium of other apparel companies lead by Parkdale Mills America.


In addition to distilleries and other breweries across the country, Anheuser-Busch is making a different kind of alcoholic product…hand sanitizer.

Need Assistance?

We're healthcare experts.