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How Honeywell Plants Pivoted to Hand Sanitizer

Here are three things to know about how we transformed two facilities to make sanitizer to help fight the coronavirus

To help meet demand for hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic, two Honeywell chemical manufacturing plants are producing hand sanitizer.

Behind-the-scenes, those facilities had to be reconfigured to be able to make the hand sanitizer.

“We leveraged remote working tools to accelerate cross-functional decision making from the regulators to Honeywell down to the operating business,” said Omar Vikin, general manager, who has been in the specialty chemical industry for more than 20 years. “What would take months— we did it in hours.”

Here are three things to know about the plants.

1.     Where are the facilities?

One facility is in Muskegon, Michigan. That plant manufactures high-purity solvents and blends, making more than 1,500 products that can be used for environmental analysis, precision cleaning, pharmaceutical testing and more. The other plant is in Seelze, Germany. That facility produces more than 500 products, including high-purity solutions for laboratory research and testing applications.

2.     How have the plants been set up to make hand sanitizer?

The facilities repurposed existing equipment to accommodate new hand sanitizer production guidelines from U.S. and German regulators.

“It required reconfiguring process flow to allow charging of the mixing vessels based on the revised guidelines and formulation from the regulators,” Omar said. “We had to read, interpret and implement the mixing procedures and we trained personnel in the safe handling of the ingredients.”

Running a chemical plant is all about tight process control, Omar said. These two plants pivoted within days to figure out how to make this happen. “It really took a willingness to be flexible within a well-run chemical facility.”  

3.     Where will the hand sanitizer go?

During the next two months, that hand sanitizer will be donated to governments to help with the demand that has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Those governments will distribute the hand sanitizer to institutions who need it.

The Michigan plant has already started production and will donate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Already, the Seelze plant has donated industrial hand sanitizer to the Saxony Ministry of Health, Social Affairs and Equality, which plans to distribute the hand sanitizer to local hospitals and factories. The facility plans to donate even more. 

Honeywell has helped during the coronavirus pandemic by transforming Rhode Island and Arizona facilities to make N95 masks, along with scaling up production of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Learn more about our coronavirus response.