Behind the Scenes of Making N95 Masks

    The coronavirus has prompted more production for face protection. Here’s how we’re making it happen. 

    During the COVID-19 outbreak, N95 masks have been in the spotlight.

    We are helping to produce millions of them, converting existing manufacturing facilities to meet the new demand.

    Will Lange, president and general manager of  our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) business has been in the middle of it. 

    He leads the teams that make safety gear, including hard hats, protective eyewear like goggles, gloves, protective footwear and respirators. 

    Here’s what is going on behind the scenes to make millions of N95 masks, according to Will:

    What is an N95 Mask?

    An N95 mask is a respirator that protects the individual who’s wearing it with 95 percent efficiency. An N95 mask is specifically built with materials that filter out particles in the air.

    How is Honeywell helping produce more masks?

    We manufacture masks globally in multiple locations, and we’ve ramped up production since the beginning of the outbreak. We are continuing to increase production to soon get to 20 times what we were producing at the beginning of the outbreak.

    What is going on to transform facilities to make masks?

    We have made significant investments in a number of existing Honeywell facilities. Our Smithfield plant in Rhode Island, that will be the first to come online in the next few weeks. We are also adding production at a Honeywell Aerospace Phoenix facility.

    How does this compare to building out and staffing a facility typically?

    We’re doing something that normally takes nine months in a matter of six to eight weeks.

    How do we keep the employees manufacturing the masks safe?

    We’re following all guidelines. Keeping our people safe is our utmost priority. We are making sure that they are practicing six feet of distance. We’re sanitizing all areas, multiple times a day and we are providing masks for our employees as well.

    How do you hire more employees during social distancing?

    We’re putting 500 jobs in each location. Obviously, given the current environment in the U.S., adding jobs right now is great for the economy and for people. We’re excited about that. We’ve done virtual interviews and hiring. We practice safe social distancing as we do the final on-site interviews. We’re providing as much protection to our own employees and prospective employees as possible because we want to make sure everybody stays safe in this environment.

    When will the facilities begin producing masks?

    We should be producing masks in Rhode Island in the middle of April and our Phoenix facility will come online later in the spring.