COVID-19 Testimonial Series | Norgren (FAS)
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Swiss manufacturer of liquid valves, syringe pumps and mass flow controllers supporting the high-level of demand in ventilators
The following article is part of BioAlps’ testimonial series and was written by Mr Fabrizio Maspero, Business Development Manager at Norgren, FAS. Our series aims to provide a platform for the different life sciences actors from western Switzerland, who are active in finding and developing solutions to fight against the new coronavirus, to share their experience.
Presentation of FAS MEDIC’s COVID-19 related activities
FAS, product brand on Norgren, is a recognised leader in fluid control solutions, specialising in miniature solenoid valve technology, integration and controllers. Medical ventilators, whose global demand is constantly growing as the outbreak is dramatically spreading around the world, require precise control of very low or very high flow rates of medical gases. This critical function is ensured by proportional and on/off miniature solenoid valves.
Exogenous impact of COVID-19 on the company
Norgren Switzerland, which manufactures FAS product, has undertaken a rapid adaption of its manufacturing capability to meet the current challenging demands within the life sciences marketplace. The production of FAS Flatprop and FAS Chipsol valves has been significantly escalated to meet the current international order requests for ventilation solutions to support healthcare systems around the word.
We are extremely honoured to have received personal acknowledgement from international governmental authorities for having helped their industry to build ventilators.
We were also delighted to welcome the Swiss French Television (RTS) at our production facility for a report broadcast. In other international report broadcasts on our customers, we can also see our valves in their devices.
The current demand for ventilation solutions from worldwide healthcare system has put pressure on all parts of the supply chain. The FAS Flatprop valve being an important component within ventilators, we are working in partnership with ventilator manufacturers on an international basis to ensure we speedily supply the valves they need to help save lives.
We are now able to supply the ventilator OEM with gas proportional valves. Besides the demand for ventilators, we are observing an increasing demand for equipment (bioreactors) to develop and produce new drugs and vaccines. In the same time, diagnostic instruments are more and more needed. As a manufacturer of liquid valves, syringe pumps and mass flow controllers, typically used in these applications, we are expecting an increasing demand for these fluidic components, too.
The future however still remains uncertain, not knowing in which direction the crisis will evolve. We are constantly readapting our work, week after week. In the short – mid term, we hope we can focus more on other projects put on hold before the crisis and on new projects and participate in two major trade shows in Germany in Fall – MEDICA and ANALYTICA.
Endogenous impact of COVID-19 on the company
The demand for solenoid valves is such that we needed to expand our production by 10 within a few months. This has obviously impacted our entire organisation.
The semi-automatic production line at the our Swiss manufacturing plant was transitioned to fully automatic status by the end of March. Production is now manned by three shifts working around the clock and special in-house employee support systems have also been introduced for childcare provision to enable the manufacturing staff to devote the maximum time to the production efforts.
Protecting our employees was, and still is, our main goal. A strict procedure has been setup for all our employees at the factory. We also encourage all our employees to work from home when possible.
Due to the urgency of the crisis, many departments such as R&D focused on production to support the ramp-up and help in aspects such as operator training or new machine setup.
It is likely that some of our temporary contracts will not continue. The improvement and automation of our production lines however are permanent. The very close relationship we created with our partners – customers and suppliers – and within our organisation between departments hopefully will remain.
Cantonal and/or Federal support measures | FAS MEDIC’s feedback
Our work was made possible thanks to the Swiss Cantonal authorities. They granted a special status for our company to operate without disruption, with Norgren Switzerland (FAS) being deemed an important response company against Covid-19.