BRIGHTON, MI—Promess Inc., a manufacturer of servo controlled assembly presses, torque test systems and monitoring equipment, has turned its manufacturing expertise to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

An ad hoc team of management, final assembly and mechanical engineering personnel have thus far produced more than 3,000 face shields and a large number of N95 mask covers and donated them to hospitals, first responders, dentists, traveling nurses, homeless shelters and nursing homes in southeastern Michigan.

“We started working on this near the end of March because the shortage of PPE was threatening the community, and that was something we could help with,” explains Promess engineer Stephanie Price. “We quickly developed the designs and put together the systems to produce them in quantity in our manufacturing building.”

Promess employees embraced the challenge and, supported by company management, produced the first batches of face shields and mask covers within a few weeks. These went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Howell, MI; Children’s Hospital in Detroit; several Brighton-area dentists’ offices; a group of local traveling nurses; the Independence Township, MI, Fire Department; and an assisted living facility in Flint, MI.

Following up on that success, Price reached out to a State of Michigan office that had been set up to coordinate PPE and other donations to the COVID-19 response to see if the effort could be expanded. Virginia Holmes, executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission, put Price in touch with Shawn Baker, a Department of Health and Human Services contractor tasked with providing PPE to homeless shelters in the hardest hit areas of southeastern Michigan.

Baker immediately identified a need for face shields in 30 Detroit shelters and contacted other shelters across the state to determine their needs. Of the 700 shields immediately available, 500 were picked up and distributed within a few days of the initial contact, and Baker is arranging distribution to other shelters as quickly as volunteer drivers can be dispatched.

“We will continue to work with Shawn while we are making shields so these won’t be the only ones we are delivering,” Price says. “We also have posted our efforts on The Pure Michigan Business Connect database which has a special platform to connect businesses that have capabilities to assist in supplying goods or services related to COVID-19 response with those in need of them.

“What started out as a local outreach has now gone statewide, which is very gratifying, and we’re working hard to meet the need,” Price adds. “At the same time, however, we are very interested in serving local dentists and assisted-living facilities, which often are last in line for this kind of PPE. We can do both, and we fully intend to keep producing PPE as long as the need exists.”