Instead of manufacturing outdoor clothing and sporting gear, North Vancouver-based Arc’teryx has shifted some of its production capacity into creating urgently needed surgical gowns for frontline workers in local hospitals due to COVID-19.
Between Arc’teryx and local manufacturing partners Mustang Survival and Boardroom Clothing, a total of 90,000 medical gowns will be delivered. Arc’teryx plans to manufacture 30,000 medical gowns at their ARC’One production facility in New Westminster.
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Shirley Chan, senior director of product commercialization and quality for Arc’teryx, says the company worked with local health authorities to determine how they can use their everyday materials and techniques for outdoor apparel to meet personal protection equipment (PPE) needs, specifically gowns that are growing short in supply.
Over 10 days, they tested prototypes and created specifications that local manufacturing partners could also use to assist in the effort. Over the weekend, ARC’One began retooling its operations and began production, delivering 500 gowns.
When more materials arrive over the coming weeks, they will ramp up their production of the gowns.
“Our manufacturing facility specializes in waterproof, breathable seam gear and while surgical gowns share some requirements for water resistance and breathability, the type of sewing is really different,” Chan told Daily Hive.
“As we ramp up to produce these gowns, we are reconfiguring our equipment layout and purchasing specialized attachments for our equipment to ensure that we can respond to this need in an efficient way. While the operations themselves are changing, what doesn’t change is the skill set of our workers. They are simply reapplying what they already know to new product.”
Workers are practicing physical distancing and other health safety measures in the production spaces for these garments.
“It’s really heartwarming to feel how much our entire team wants to help this effort. We’re so proud of how quickly everyone came together to support our frontline workers,” she added.
With the pandemic worsening, a growing number of businesses across a wide spectrum have repositioned their operations to help source and manufacture PPE and life-saving patient care machines, including ventilators.
The provincial government worked with the tech sector to create the COVID-19 Supply Hub, a single platform to coordinate, source, and expedite PPE and medical supplies for health authorities in BC.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he reached out to 3,000 companies across the country that have offered to help with producing these supplies.