Britt Autry: A Man on a Mission
As automakers slowed production of vehicles due to the coronavirus crisis in mid-March, Britt Autry, vice president of manufacturing at DENSO, came together with other executives at DENSO’s Maryville facility to chart a new course for their associates and plant operations.
“As a company, we have something we call ‘DENSO spirit,’” Autry said. “It has several elements, and three of them are foresight, credibility and collaboration. Foresight means that we see a problem coming, and we can mobilize our workforce to help.”
Autry and several DENSO engineers wanted to help fight COVID-19 in their area. They quickly pivoted from manufacturing auto parts to making personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals in need and created a new face shield using materials already on hand. Within a week, they developed an initial prototype and worked on modifications with the help of some amazing nurses at Blount Memorial Hospital. The final face mask has some unique features to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including an elongated shield that covers your ears and allows enough room to wear glasses or other PPE underneath.
DENSO already has requests from regional hospitals for more than 50,000 shields – all of which they plan to donate. Autry said this is a short-term project, as they wanted to quickly fill a local need by making face shields for front line workers.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, DENSO has:
Donated nearly 2,000 N95 masks to hospitals in Michigan and North Carolina
Joined a D-Wave project to give free access to a quantum computing systems that could facilitate medical breakthroughs to combat COVID-19
Started manufacturing thousands of face shields to protect local health care workers in Maryville, Tenn.
In Canada, an employee of DENSO’s Guelph, Ontario, facility answered InkSmith’s call for people to 3D-print face shield components and is sending them to the company for assembly and donation to Canadian hospitals
To see all DENSO’s COVID-19 updates, click here.