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Toyota Partners with American Safety Company Bullard to Fight COVID19

Auto News - Published on Tue, 11 Aug 2020

Image Source: Toyota Bullard PPE
Producing high-quality personal protective equipment is a point of pride and passion to the team at Bullard, a fifth-generation safety equipment manufacturer located in Kentucky. With demand of its healthcare related products skyrocketing, Bullard teamed up with Toyota to increase production in warp speed. Shortages of faceshields, respirators and hoods, all critical to caring for patients with COVID-19, led to increases in demand for Bullard’s products reaching as much as 30-times normal orders. Doing nothing to meet the high demand was not an option. Toyota reached out, offering help to Bullard in whatever way it could, free of charge. That offer turned into Toyota Production System Support Center working with Bullard team members to apply the Toyota Production System in those areas of greatest need.

For all three products faceshields, respirators and hoods, work was broken down from one person making units in batches, to multiple people each having a small part of creating the product. Units are now made one-by-one, in a continuous flow.

There was a huge increase in demand for faceshields and the previous batch method just wasn’t producing enough to meet the growing demands. To increase production, Bullard added employees to the area and created two new continuous flow lines, quadrupling production in just a few days. This new method led to a 700-percent increase in production between March and April.

Creating the continuous flow line in respirators led to quick results. Toyota engineers from the Production Engineering Headquarters just down the road in Georgetown, Ky., stepped in to help with the bottleneck – a calibration machine. The machine cuts the time in half needed for calibration and automates the process so employees can work on another step while the respirator calibrates. The result was more respirators being made in April than in all of 2019. Bullard doubled production capacity for respirators and significantly reduced the time from when a customer placed the order to when that order was shipped. Initial improvements cut that time in half; the addition of the automated calibration machine made deliveries 85-percent faster.

Bullard mobilized workers to create a new sewing line for its hoods – which are used in conjunction with a respirator. While it’s difficult to find experienced sewers to build a hood from start to finish, breaking the process down into multiple steps meant these new employees could learn and master the process faster. These new sewers doubled production capacity for hoods, and they didn’t need to have any sewing experience.

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Posted By : Yogender Pancholi on Tue, 11 Aug 2020
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