NEW BERLIN – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to grow, hospitals are anticipating the possibility of being stretched thin with staff, beds and equipment. One piece of equipment in particular will be important in treating patients with the respiratory coronavirus: ventilators. And there may not be enough.
“The key piece of equipment that will be needed for many patients is a ventilator,” said Ann Dee Allen, Pro Health Care media relations specialist, in a statement.
In New Berlin, Bill Berrien, CEO and owner of Pindel Global Precision, an advanced manufacturing firm, is prepared to help. He’s pledged to produce ventilator components at cost until the pandemic is over and he’s been reaching out to potential recipients.
Berrien, a Harvard Business School graduate, has been at the helm of the seven-decades-old company for six years. Among other things, the company produces heat sinks designed to draw heat away from complex electronics that go on SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
“The Waukesha County Business Alliance is extremely proud to see businesses coming together to support one another during this time of change and uncertainty,” said Suzanne Kelley, president and CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance, in a statement. “Waukesha County is filled with strong businesses and public leaders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work together. The Alliance is fortunate to have so many of those incredible businesses as members. Our mission remains the same and we will continue to be a voice for the business community.”
Berrien said while Pindel doesn’t typically produce ventilator parts, he’s confident the manufacturer can produce them and its main products without major changes to day-to-day operations.
“All the technology is there,” he said. “We can offer really quick turnaround (and) only charge for cost of material and tooling. (We’re) happy to go open book on it.”
Berrien saw another manufacturer, Brandon Poythress’ MarkZero, make the pledge on LinkedIn, and he decided to do the same. A Navy SEAL veteran of nine years, Berrien said this moment in history may be “a microcosm of the shared need and collaboration that World War II engendered. (Some) of it’s for the societal good. And there’s lots of people making sacrifices.”
The pandemic may help open eyes to future opportunities as well, Berrien said, with 21st-century manufacturing better suited for the flexibility required to address this problem. “It’s not about ordering six months’ worth (of inventory), the reality here is somebody wants a month, because (things) might change,” Berrien said. Automation “partnered with the right skilled workforce” goes a long way.
In explaining his vision, Berrien invoked an 18th-century slogan: “Milwaukee feeds and supplies the world.” He hopes to see a return to that mentality.