Making medical gowns during the COVID-19 crisis was a collaborative effort among Magna, Dow, 3M and other companies – and an effort that tapped Magna talent and goodwill throughout North America.
“This was a great example of how companies can come together in a crisis and work together to accomplish anything,” said Frank Eupizi, group director of engineering at Magna Seating. “And it reflects the global reach of Magna.”
Dow provided the initial patterns for the Level 2 medical isolation gowns to Ashley Harris, a Magna product engineer and fashion designer based in Michigan, who enhanced them for easier and faster sewing.
The enhanced gown patterns for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in intensive care units were then sent to Javier Dominguez, a Magna trim development engineer at the Magna Seating Acuna plant in Mexico, who did a feasibility analysis and readied everything for production.
A volunteer workforce of 120 sewers at Acuna began producing 75,000 Level 2 gowns using automotive thread and needles, with donations bound for hospitals in Mexico City and locations in Texas and Louisiana.
Even after normal production at the plant resumed in late spring, the team kept sewing gowns during their off hours, with a target of producing an additional 25,000 standard versions of them this summer. Magna also made 500,000 medical masks during the crisis – and even created a how- to video for home sewers to make reusable masks to help during a mask shortage.
In addition to the gowns and masks, Magna is involved in the Apollo hood project, with a team at the Magna Seating Allende facility in Mexico partnering with Ford and 3M to make parts for the personal air-purified respirators used by medical professionals.
And when a family friend who works as a nurse at an Ann Arbor, Michigan hospital turned to a Magna Seating executive asking for help with supplies, his team gathered and donated 10,000 nitrile gloves.
Being able to help others and donate critically needed supplies during the pandemic forged a strong bond among team members.
“It’s been such a good experience,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, the Acuna assistant general manager. “It made the team feel closer and gave them a feeling of accomplishment.”
Magna’s agility and adaptability were at the forefront throughout the seamless response to the COVID-19 crisis.
“There is such a sense of pride in being able to take our knowledge in automotive and help people in a crisis,” said Eupizi.