Northfield, Ill.-based Medline shipped its first lot of critically needed alcohol-based hand sanitizer from its Hartland, Wis. manufacturing facility to healthcare customers across the country on April 13. Production was up and running just three weeks after the company made the decision to begin making the new product – at the point when the nationwide supply of hand sanitizer was beginning to rapidly diminish. Already, the facility is outpacing early production estimates.
“We’ll continue producing 200,000 bottles per week and quickly ramp that up to 400,000 bottles in the next two weeks,” says Greg Hamberg, senior director of manufacturing operations at the Medline plant in Hartland.
About 120 employees work at the facility, and Hamberg says they are prepared to bring on additional employees if necessary to keep up with demand.
“When the opportunity came up for us to produce a product that’s in such high demand, all our employees really stepped up. They kept asking how they could help. We’re all very proud of what we’re doing here,” Hamberg says.
Medline freed up space to produce the 80 percent ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer by redeploying production of other products to other areas of the plant and retrofitting one of their production rooms to be able to produce the new product.
The accelerated conversion required dozens of people to implement extensive equipment upgrades and additions to meet strict safety standards for manufacturing the highly flammable product.
Supplies are shipping to Medline distribution centers across the United States. From there, they are delivered directly to customers in hospitals, nursing homes, first responders and other healthcare settings on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the hand sanitizer, the Hartland plant is continuing production of all its other healthcare products including lubricating jellies, sterile saline flush syringes, over the counter pill bottling, chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) and povidone iodine (PVP). The facility also produces shampoos and body washes.
Another Medline plant in Meriden, Conn., has ramped up production of its 1.5 mL packets of 62 percent ethyl alcohol gel-based hand sanitizer from their historical 200,000 packets per month to 4,000,000 packets per month for April and May, according to Russ Blakeslee, director of manufacturing.
That plant was also converted in the past few weeks to produce the same hand sanitizer in bulk sizes. The first 50-gallon drums shipped earlier this month, and mass production of one-gallon bottles begins next week with shipment slated for the end of April.
Read more about Medline’s unique infrastructure and flexibility to meet demand.