Bauer has long specialized in making protective equipment, but normally not this kind.
The company, which is known for its hockey pads, helmets, gloves, sticks and skates, has begun manufacturing medical face shields for hospital workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
With no professional hockey taking place anywhere in North America, Bauer was looking at different ways to help cope with the sudden drop in demand. The idea for medical masks was first proposed by research and development specialists during a conference last week.
“We had several options, but the option of designing visors was the best,” Dan Bourgeois, Bauer’s vice president of product innovation, told RDS.ca.
With a factory that was already equipped to manufacture plastic visors at their disposal, Bauer simply had to run some trial-and-error tests to produce a working prototype for the masks.
“Our specialists designed molds to create the prototypes, which we presented to a doctor who is the father of one of our employees,” Bourgeois said. “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.”
By Wednesday morning, Bauer had already received orders from across Canada for more than 100,000 masks, and they’re hoping to break into the U.S. market soon.
The decision to produce the masks will also allow the company to keep a number of employees working during the crisis.
“That’s the ancillary benefit to it,” Bauer CEO Ed Kinnaly told ESPN. “We can keep some people employed to work on these.”
As of right now, the company’s facilities are capable of producing around 2,000 visors per day, but they’re hoping to eventually crank out 10,000. The Montreal Police have already inquired about purchasing 50,000 of the masks. The first shipments could go out as soon as next week.
“Frankly I wish we could do more,” Kinnaly said. “Any way we can help, we’re going to try.”
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