Fighting coronavirus

Staying True to the Mission to Fight COVID-19

March 31, 2020
In this series of essays, industry leaders and executives highlight their organizations' efforts in combatting the coronavirus.

In the wake of the global pandemic, manufacturing has taken on a crucial role to both keep vital supply chains open and to innovate to deliver the products needed to battle the effects of the COVID-19 virus.

Machine Design is publishing a series of essays from industry leaders and executives that highlight the work already under way in manufacturing and the efforts that individuals from those companies and organizations are making to combat the effects of the coronavirus.

We welcome your input. Send these essays to Senior Content Director Bob Vavra at [email protected].

As we watch the spread of COVID-19 and its toll on families and communities, my 50,000 colleagues across the United States have been asking ourselves a simple question: What can we do?

We’ve seen that this pandemic cannot be defeated without shared sacrifices. We know that it requires us to embrace unwanted change both in our personal lives and across the global economy.

Yet as we face circumstances that are unfamiliar and uncharted, we also need continuity. Now is the time to be physically distant. But it’s not the time when any American, or any community, can afford to be disconnected from the essential services and critical infrastructure—from healthcare, to electricity, to transportation—helping America combat the pandemic.

Supporting these services and the nation’s critical infrastructure is essential work. And that’s why we know our own work right now at Siemens—as a trusted partner to hospitals and factories, to power, water and transportation providers—is essential as well, and it can’t stop. Our priority right now is maintaining the continuity of America’s vital services, staying true to our larger mission and purpose of serving society, while also maintaining employee safety.

We’re reminded that our technology is only as powerful as our people deploying and maintaining it.

Our manufacturing professionals, technicians and field service teams are busy keeping factories up-and-running. They’re helping maintain operations at hospitals, power plants, government facilities, military sites and data centers. They’re helping support city services such as transportation, water and waste, and national security emergency response systems. And they’re doing so while taking the proper protective measures to keep themselves and others safe. 

It’s become abundantly clear that we’ve all got a part to play working with customers and government partners at the state, local and federal levels. The private sector’s ability to bring the appropriate technology and solutions to bear and to scale goes hand-in-hand with the contributions that individuals and government officials are making to stem the tide of this virus and its devastating impacts.

We’re now part of collaborative on-the-ground efforts to support the expansion of hospital spaces. We are working with partners’ technologies that disinfect spaces for medical purposes, killing the COVID-19 virus. We’re also ensuring new hospital spaces have reliable power, fire and life safety systems, and the tools they need to treat patients—from portable X-ray and ultrasound systems to cloud-based platforms and remote monitoring to optimize converted spaces. Additionally, Siemens Healthineers is focused on a molecular test to diagnose COVID-19 and the development of new AI algorithms to detect and evaluate atypical viral patterns like it. 

To further address the growing shortage of medical devices, our additive manufacturing experts have opened up their global 3D printing network at no cost to support designers and suppliers worldwide. Our Innovation Center R&D team in Charlotte is working on solutions to address the shortage of protective masks and face shields along with other solutions to enhance workplace safety. And our manufacturing technology—from digital twin to automation software and hardware—is ready to help manufacturers adapt and accelerate production lines for pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and other resources that are urgently needed.

After learning that a hospital was transforming vacant office space into an emergency ward for COVID-19 patients, our Smart Infrastructure team worked in just one day to plan and locate the systems that would be needed to ensure that the new emergency space had negative room pressure, which keeps any contaminated air contained, ultimately protecting patients and medical staff.

We’ve also worked with Georgia Tech to connect its research teams with a local manufacturer that could produce face shields. The school had identified this equipment as an urgent need for healthcare providers and had created a design. But outside support was needed to get a large number of them manufactured and delivered to local hospitals quickly. Through the partnership that Siemens forged between the school and the manufacturer, as many as 2,500 of these shields can now be produced per day.

We also want to see innovation flourish beyond our own projects. We’re encouraging students who are encountering distance learning, perhaps for the first time, to use our free Solid Edge virtual design software to bring their ideas to life. Mendix application development platform solutions are available for free to students, as is a 12-month license of Mentor’s PADS Professional PCB design software.

We hope the STEM activities created as part of Siemens STEM Day will be opportunities for families to learn with each other. And we invite everyone to join our Innovate for Impact design challenge, as we’ve extended the deadline for submitting ideas on how we can create a planet with clean water and zero hunger.

The response underway is just the beginning as we endeavor to heal, recover and become more resilient for the future.

Amid all the troubling news that surrounds us, the stories of human ingenuity, compassion and service are truly powerful. Most importantly, they remind us of two important truths: We’re in this together, and we’ll see it through.

Barbara Humpton is CEO of Siemens USA.

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