John Saunders is a man who needs no introduction on this site. If you’ve been using Fusion 360, the chances that you haven’t heard of him are slim to none. John has always been instrumental to the Fusion 360 community, and in recent times, that commitment to things bigger than himself has really shone through. If you’re not aware, John recently made a temporary pivot to provide his local hospital, and several essential businesses in the area with face shields to protect the most critical and vulnerable members of our society who are keeping things going.
“When this all started getting way more intense, when I started seeing N95 becoming a household term, I knew things needed to change”, John tells me. He had initially agreed to shut the facility down, as in accordance with the state mandates. The facility, like many others, does qualify for an exemption due to Saunders Machine Works’ (SMW) work manufacturing equipment used by research labs. When lockdowns were initiated, John did what so many other businesses did, he closed down operations, and made sure his employees were safe and assured that this was temporary, but after the 8th day when hearing from local doctors that they were struggling to source Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), John, like so many others out there, stepped up to the plate and helped keep his community and neighborhood safe.
John told me he wasn’t comfortable at all designing any PPE, “there are better people out there to do that.” So he referred to the excellent PDF design manual developed by design studio DELVE to ensure whatever he made will be suitable for use (as a reminder, 3D printed masks are the least effective support you can give. Please refer to your local community’s needs if you wish to help out).
So all the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place, John had a willing workforce, ready to help, design documentation to produce the best-suited PPE for his community, and 800 sheets of polycarbonate, as well as a sourced a latex-free headband for the maximum adoption potential. When John called his local hospital to see if they would be interested in the masks, they leaped at his offer to support, “this felt like a moral obligation to help, with the entire shop rallying behind the idea to make something that would help.”
9,000 plus masks later, Saunders Machine Works, John, and his entire staff have been able to produce PPE for their local communities and beyond, something everyone here at team Fusion 360 commends him for. We were really curious about what John did for staff safety and product safety when it’s near impossible to test ourselves and staff for COVID-19, and John was kind enough to share what he did with us so that we can share with you! (Please note that these are additional precautionary measures John implemented based on local government guidance, please proceed accordingly with your own actions).
Before anyone was allowed back into the facility, a cleaning crew was sent in to do a deep clean before re-entering the facility. Now, thankfully the social distancing element was quite easy for John to implement, with 10,000sqft (929sqm) and six staff, it’s quite easy to ensure everybody stays 6 feet away, but wearing a face-covering is mandatory for employees when engaging with one another. With additional morning huddles (6 ft spaced huddles) to check in with staff, not just for symptoms but to see how they were doing. Allowing the team to do quick checks, verifying whether anyone is exhibiting raised temperatures, and ensure they are fit for work. Most importantly, a verbal check to see how everyone’s mental state and wellness is doing; this is something we really want to shine a light on, as it can be forgotten so easily. We commend Saunders Machine Works for implementing this too. We can be so swept up in our work, that sometimes just making sure we’re all doing ok mentally goes a long way for many things.
In addition to all this, Saunders Machine Works provided staff with basic supplies and encouraged everyone to keep sufficient food and supplies at home, provided all PPE for free, and ensures all the staff has PPE for themselves. The facility is also shut off from visitors unless mission-critical, who are then put through the same rigorous procedures as the staff!
But what about the PPE itself? Any special considerations? Of course! 9,000 face shields are a lot, and it only takes one person to be infected, touching those face shields to spread is exponentially amongst the general population, so it is very important special considerations were made. Of course, all staff assembling, packaging, and handling the PPE in any way are wearing their own PPE and are protected from the equipment this way, but no more than 100 shields are ever shipped together, fragmenting out the stock and minimizing the potential for mass infection as well. Today, SMW is able to produce their face shields for a unit cost of $3, vs. the $4+ average on the Ohio Manufacturers Alliance Exchange website, reflective of the work done under John’s leadership; they have since pivoted to producing polycarbonate sneeze guards for retail businesses that are slowly opening back up in the state.
From everyone at the Fusion 360 team, we commend you, John, and all of you out there doing your part to support your communities and help out. Thank you!