Bullard partners with Toyota to increase production of PPE

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 10:24 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The need for personal protective equipment like face shields, respirators, and hoods grew as fast as the number of cases of COVID-19.

It was a demand that many manufacturing companies including Bullard didn’t have the supply for.

“What that led to was a big need to increase our capacity for production,” Bullard VP of Marketing Wes Johnson said.

That’s where Toyota’s expertise falls into the assembly line.

Its support center works with manufacturing companies to help improve efficiency and increase production with a method they call the Toyota Production System (TPS).

“It’s not so much about what equipment you have, it’s more about how do you do the jobs, how do you make the flow happen, how do you get things from start to finish in a shorter fashion,” Senior Manager for Toyota Production System Support Center Tom Jones said.

Between March and April, this new method led to an increase in face shield production of 700 percent, eliminating Bullard’s backlog of orders. The company also doubled its production capacity for respirators and increased delivery speed by 85 percent.

“Typically, we’re working with a company, and it’s a long term thing,” Jones said. “But, this was within days that we had a major impact on getting supplies of needed items where they needed to go.”

“For us, the mission was critical,” Johnson said. “We all thought of our families, we thought of our friends, and really began to put into place plans to help.”

The end product was not about any one face shield but being able to fill the demand for the healthcare workers on the frontlines.

Toyota’s support for Bullard was free of charge, and they said the partnership will remain as long as the need is there.

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