Honeywell Pivots to Create Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer to Address Growing Demand

MHI member companies are among the leading suppliers in manufacturing and supply chain and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these companies have been doing amazing things to better the safety of our citizens and the security of our economy. 

This week we spoke with MHI member company Honeywell about their recent mask and hand sanitizer production initiative and how this is making a difference in the lives of others and in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Honeywell made the internal decision to help address the growing demands and product shortages for both hand sanitizer and protective face masks. They added mask manufacturing capabilities at two of their factories in the U.S. as well as in the U.K. and currently, Honeywell is able to make 20 million N95 face masks in the U.S. alone per month.

In addition, Honeywell pivoted to manufacturing hand sanitizer which involved resourcefulness, collaboration and quick action throughout the entire organization. Senior Manager of External Communications at Honeywell, Eric Krantz explains, “While we don’t traditionally manufacture hand sanitizer, our site operators retain knowledge of the process, have access to raw materials and the required equipment which allowed the team to begin production in record time.”  The decision was made internally and then accelerated cross functionally from the regulators to Honeywell and down to operations in a matter of hours.

They identified two facilities —­ one in Michigan and one in Germany ­­­­—­ ­­for producing the hand sanitizer. Once a physical infrastructure was identified, they called upon their technical expertise, and empowered teams to fulfill production. Guidelines from the U.S. and German regulatory agencies were incredibly helpful in bringing the product to market.

Currently, the Michigan plant is donating hand sanitizer to FEMA since this organization has the knowledge and access to parts of the U.S. in greatest need. The German factory has provided industrial hand sanitizer to the Saxony Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and Equality which plans to send the product to local hospitals and factories.

We asked Honeywell how they would advise another MHI manufacturing member to proceed with this pivot process. Omar Vikin, General Manager, Research Chemicals and Glen Tran, Plant Director at Honeywell shared their thoughts:

 [For our Hand Sanitizer operations]
“Running a chemical plant is all about tight process control. It takes a willingness to be flexible within a well-run chemical facility.” – Omar Vikin, General Manager, Honeywell Research Chemicals

[For our N95 mask production operations]
“It took a lot of team effort from many different functions. We all had to play our part in accelerating this. It took a lot of people acting with urgency to get the site up and running in a short period of time. To flip the switch, we had to ensure the people were properly trained, the equipment was all ready and the supply chain was readily available.” – Glen Tran, Plant Director, Honeywell

 MHI applauds Honeywell in their commitment to aiding our community in crisis. If you are an MHI member company who is also making a positive impact in these times of need, we want to hear from you! Please contact our MHI Membership department with your story.