As COVID-19 strains the healthcare and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) industries in the United States, YKK is proactively partnering with existing customers in these industries as well as reaching out to new partners to seek creative ways to address the COVID-19 challenge together.
YKK’s four main U.S. manufacturing facilities in Georgia, California, Alabama and Kentucky have taken innovative approaches to the new challenges being presented to them. One example is YKK subsidiary Tape Craft Corporation in Oxford, Alabama. Last Friday, Tape Craft was approached by Ford Motor Company with a request to provide thousands of elastic straps for the face shields Ford is now manufacturing in Michigan for the medical industry. Tape Craft provided 85,000 pieces of elastic straps to Ford this week. And when supply chain disruptions with YKK’s elastic supplier prevented Tape Craft from being able to provide more elastic straps to Ford, Tape Craft, together with YKK USA, immediately proposed two creative alternatives using YKK’s hook and loop fasteners, plastic buckles, and cord-stoppers. Both solutions are currently under consideration. YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. Snap and Button Products in Kentucky is also supporting its customers who are converting to face shield production by providing snaps, machinery, and expertise in a timely manner.
Additionally, YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. is working with several key government contractors on mission critical orders for the U.S. Government. YKK USA in Macon, Georgia is manufacturing airtight/watertight and moisture repellant zippers for isolation chambers and Level B Hazmat suits for the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA to support the fight against COVID-19. YKK USA in Anaheim, California is providing airtight/watertight zippers to aid and support in the design of manufacturing negative pressure tent prototypes for those requiring isolation due to coronavirus exposure for the California State government. Moreover, YKK USA in Macon continues to supply key fastening products for the police, fire, and medical support communities.
YKK is also serving the medical and hygiene industries by providing fastening products for medical masks, hospital gowns, and medical beds and bedding. In addition to servicing existing healthcare customers, some requests are coming from YKK’s apparel industry customers, who are switching to medical industry production. This sudden switch is requiring creative thinking from all involved, and YKK hopes to work with more partners to find inventive uses for its zippers, hook & loop, injection molded plastic parts, webbing, and snap & buttons.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us with challenges we could not imagine just a few months ago,” said Jim Reed, President, YKK Corporation of America. “As we navigate these unchartered waters, the YKK team is turning to our corporate philosophy for guidance –the ‘Cycle of Goodness’, which teaches us that ‘no one prospers without rendering benefit to others,’ the YKK Management Principle, ‘seek corporate value of higher significance,’ and our Core Values, which emphasize trust, transparency, and innovation. We look forward to partnering with other organizations to provide much needed assistance to the industries fighting COVID-19.”
YKK is considered part of the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Industry” by the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. This federal government designation takes precedence over state and local directives that call for lockdowns or similar temporary closures. YKK has received letters of gratitude from customers for keeping the supply chain open and allowing them to serve the critical needs in the medical and PPE industries.
At same time, YKK is taking many steps to ensure the safety of employees as they remain at work to fulfill these critical orders. The YKK COVID-19 Task Force has been in place since February and meets daily to determine how to best protect its community of employees. YKK has put strict restrictions on travel, has prohibited non-essential visitors to its plants, is encouraging teleconferencing, and continues to reinforce safe behavior in its plants, such as handwashing, social distancing and disinfecting. Employees who feel ill have been told to not report to work, and YKK has specific quarantine and communication procedures in place should an employee be diagnosed with COVID-19 or is asked to self-isolate by a public health authority. The company is also emphasizing frequent and transparent communication with employees, customers, and local communities.