MONTREAL – Because it no longer has professional hockey players to protect for the time being, the Bauer company has decided to protect doctors, nurses and first responders against COVID-19. In an interview with RDS.ca, Dan Bourgeois, Vice President of Product Innovation for Bauer, detailed the decision and process for transitioning from hockey equipment to medical masks, and the difficulties involved.
“We contacted Quebec government officials to tell them about our project. We are awaiting their authorization and will be ready to start production as soon as we have the green light. We could deliver our first visors as early as next week, “said Dan Bourgeois, vice president of product innovation, in an interview with RDS.ca in the afternoon of Tuesday.
The idea of producing visors was born out of a brainstorming session – by videoconference – during which the plant managers asked their research and development specialists to think of a way to contribute to the fight against the pandemic.
“We took a week to put ideas on the table and study them. We had several options, but the option of designing visors was the best. Our specialists designed molds to create the prototypes which we presented to a doctor who is the father of one of our employees. We wanted to test the safety and comfort levels of our visor, which resembles a mask normally used to perform welding work. We have refined our visor and arrived with the model that we are ready to produce. A single use model. But we are continuing our development work to manage to create another one that would be in permanent use, “said Mr. Bourgeois who completed, in the afternoon of Tuesday, the steps to ensure that he received the materials necessary for the confection masks.
“The closings announced yesterday (Monday) by the government complicate matters a bit, as we had to contact different suppliers, but we have confirmations that we have the materials to produce 10,000 masks. We have a production capacity of 2000 masks per day to start, but we will be able to boost this production according to the requests that will be sent to us by hospitals and other first responder services, ”assured Mr. Bourgeois.
Protection that allows athletes to give everything for their team is our heritage.
Right now, we’re all on the same team. We’re repurposing our facilities to make face shields so that medical professionals battling COVID-19 can safely continue to help those most vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/pBiZuUWdVl
— BAUER Hockey (@BauerHockey) March 25, 2020
Informed of Bauer’s intentions to launch into the production of protective visors, the Montreal City Police Service has already contacted the company to obtain details on the product and on the possibility of ordering 50,000 quickly.
Easy to restart production
Struck on Monday by the government’s announcement, Bauer is currently idling at its Blainville plant. But the leaders assure that production would be very easy to restart.
“At the peak of our production, we normally have between 50 and 80 people who make skates for professional hockey players. They are spread over two shifts. Since the start of the pandemic, all of our research and development specialists have been working from home. We have three people in the factory, but there is no production at the moment. No employee has been laid off due to current circumstances. If we get the green light, we can call about fifteen people to work – machinery operators, quality control – to carry out our first production. If demand increases, we will of course be able to recall more employees. That’s our goal. We want to keep as many employees working as possible while waiting for our usual production to resume. The research and development work was carried out in the normal course of our operations. I do not know how many masks we will be called upon to produce, but our initial financial objective is simple: to cover our production costs which are estimated at $ 6 per visor. We want to respond as quickly as possible to the first orders to demonstrate that we can be efficient in both the production and distribution of our product and especially that our visor is of excellent quality, “concluded Dan Bourgeois.