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Gerber Assembles PPE Task Force to Accelerate Production of Pandemic Supplies

Gerber Technology has involved more than 300 of its customers in the PPE Task Force and Resource Team it launched on March 23 to support the effort to increase production or transition to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karsten Newbury, chief strategy and digital officer in charge of the Gerber PPE Task Force, told Sourcing Journal in an interview that much of what is being done by the task force came from a similar effort in China during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

“We had been monitoring the situation for the last several weeks, and because we’re a global business we have a fairly extensive team in China, we were alerted to the issues fairly quickly,” Newbury said. “After first taking care of the health and safety of our employees, pretty quickly our concerns turned to not only how can we help our customers, but with the severity of the issues, how can we at Gerber help everybody address the COVID-19 crisis.

“We had overwhelming input from our customers around the world–we have thousands of customers around the world that are in the sewn goods and flexible materials industries–and a number of them starting kicking in and helping in the crisis areas like China and Italy,” he said.

It was then natural for those customers to turn to Gerber for assistance and guidance in ramping up production of PPE, Newbury said.

“What we saw was a clear lack of coordination, not just in the U.S., but in other countries and governments, as well,” he said. “So, we decided to form a PPE task force and we structured work streams that report to our CEO.”

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The companies use Gerber’s advanced software, hardware solutions and expertise to produce masks and other PPE. Newbury said the task force is coordinating and expediting efforts among these manufacturers to either scale up or transition into producing protective masks and other much-needed medical supplies.

“In what’s an unprecedented global emergency, all of us in the manufacturing industry need to work together to protect those fighting COVID-19 on the front lines,” Mohit Uberoi, CEO of Gerber Technology, said in a statement. “With over 50 years of expertise, we are doing our part and helping companies quickly transition into manufacturing PPE just as we did for our customers in China a few weeks ago and helped apparel companies successfully transition to manufacturing masks and other personal protective equipment.”

The Gerber PPE Resource Team is made up of dedicated experts who can offer advice, share best practices, and support technology to produce certain types of masks, as well as protective apparel and accessories including raw material procurement and on-site support.

Newbury noted that with Gerber’s headquarters in Connecticut, it is considered a “mission-critical business” because it makes supplies for PPE. Gerber has three main goals in the task force, he said: support its customers that are suppliers of PPE to run efficiently and scale up, help customers transition over to making appropriate PPE, and networking and matchmaking companies and materials.

The Gerber PPE Resource Team is available to support PPE manufacturing including implementing pre-defined patterns and markers or defining fabric and sewing requirements, helping with the setup of cutter parameters specific to the selected fabrics and providing training, software, equipment and service technicians to ramp up production.

It’s also connecting supply and demand for PPE through its global ecosystem of customers and partners, and introducing existing PPE manufacturers to those converting to PPE production.

Gerber Technology delivers software and automation solutions that help apparel and industrial customers improve their manufacturing and design processes and more effectively manage and connect the supply chain, from product development and production to retail and the end customer. Gerber serves 78,000 customers in 134 countries.

The task force is also networking and coordinating with industry organizations and government agencies in areas such as specifications and materials. This includes the U.S. textile and apparel coalition led by Hanesbrands, Fruit of the Loom and Parkdale Mills, with many companies upscaling or converting production into PPE and Gerber helping with technical expertise and connecting firms with each other.

Gerber has also been working with the city and state of New York to assist in obtaining equipment and providing technical advice and information.