Fri. Apr 3rd, 2020

Blabba.net

Latest Breaking News for US and Worldwide

Magna to make masks, seeks approval for sanitizing device as 2,000 Canadian firms step up to fight COVID-19

4 min read
Magna to make masks, seeks approval for sanitizing device as 2,000 Canadian firms step up to fight COVID-19 thumbnail

Engineers at Canada’s largest auto parts manufacturer are hoping a sanitization device they originally developed to eliminate odour and bacteria in hockey gear can be used by hospitals to kill the coronavirus on personal protective equipment.

Magna International Inc. is ready to ramp up production of the sanitization devices if it can find a testing partner to prove they eliminate the virus that causes COVID-19, John O’Hara, the company’s president of mechatronics, mirrors and lighting, said in an interview Thursday.

“We need to validate it to get it out there,” O’Hara said. “(The device) could be a help for hospitals to clean PPE equipment, doctors’ shoes, briefcases, anything you just can’t throw in a washing machine.”

Magna has already shifted production to make masks instead of seating at facilities in Mexico and Europe, the company said Thursday. But its $5-billion mechatronics division headquartered in Newmarket, Ont., also wanted to help. It is one of thousands of manufacturers across Canada offering up its technology and production capabilities to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bain’s office has engaged with more than 2,000 companies since putting out a call last week for manufacturers to help make products for frontline medical workers, his office said in a statement. Once Bains determines what companies can offer, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada identify what they need before Public Services and Procurement Canada buys products.

Ottawa is expected to announce contracts for masks, ventilators, tests kits and other equipment as early as Friday, the Financial Post has learned.

Some companies have already taken action. Hockey equipment maker Bauer Hockey on Wednesday also announced plans to make full-face, single-use visors for medical workers and first responders. It received approval from the Quebec government at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Bauer hopes to ramp up its daily output with the aim of producing 500,000 units, according to The Canadian Press.


A staff member wears a medical visor produced by Bauer Hockey for medical staff.

Bauer Hockery/Handout via Reuters

Magna is one of many auto parts makers seeing how they can help amid temporary suspension of vehicle assembly by the major three North American automakers.

“We wanted to do everything we can,” Scott Mitchell, the company’s director, new technology and innovation, said in an interview.

Mechatronics engineers typically build things that open and close, such as car doors or outside mirrors, and require complex moulding, stamping and electronics processes. But several years ago Mitchell’s team created a device the size of a large beer cooler called the Puro, which uses ozone technology to disinfect and clean household items that don’t fit in a washing machine. Once items are inside, users press a button to seal and lock the device for a 25- or 45-minute sanitization cycle.

While its intention was to get rid of rash-inducing bacteria often found in elbow pads, the device has potential medical applications for cleaning hospital gear so it can be reused instead of disposed.

Ozone has proven to kill viruses such as H1N1 Influenza in the past based on research from the University of British Columbia, Mitchell said, and this particular device killed MRSA bacteria in 2012.

But before Magna can deploy its 75 devices to hospitals and potentially produce hundreds more, it needs a medical partner to test whether they actually kill the coronavirus. Magna is actively seeking partners.

Magna is one of many auto parts makers seeing how they can help amid temporary suspension of vehicle assembly.

Magna is one of many auto parts makers seeing how they can help amid temporary suspension of vehicle assembly.

Cole Burston/Bloomberg files

If the device is successful, O’Hara said it would take six weeks for Magna to scale production to make 300 to 400 such devices per day. They would cost less than $2,000 and potentially as little as $600 for more basic household use, he said. Magna, which has 139 manufacturing facilities and 75,000 employees in North America alone, would send the 75 existing devices to the hospitals that need them most.

Meantime, Magna engineers have designed masks now being produced by the thousands at manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Europe to address shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said Thursday.

In Russia, Serbia and the Czech Republic, Magna’s seating facilities are making 51,000 masks daily. In Mexico, employees have increased production to 2,000 masks per day with the goal of hitting the same levels as Europe.

Magna has also secured 510,000 KN95 masks (similar to N95 masks) to donate to hospitals across North America. Its powertrain team in China recently shipped 30,000 KN95 masks to Italy.

Magna is also in discussions with various automakers to provide parts for ventilators, face shields and more.

Financial Post

• Email: ejackson@nationalpost.com | Twitter: theemilyjackson

Read More

Leave a Reply