Paolo Dal Cin, Raytheon Technologies’ senior vice president for Operations & Supply Chain, is managing the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is an excerpt of a recent interview where he discussed how Raytheon Technologies has supported COVID-19 relief efforts by marshaling its supply chain, engineering culture and workforce.
What types of requests is Raytheon Technologies receiving?
Most of the requests fall into two main areas. First, there’s the donation of medical supplies. We’re still seeing a lot of requests for N-95 and surgical masks, protective suits and gloves, as well as face shields, which we’ve engaged in manufacturing and supplying. We are fortunate to have more than 100 3D printers globally, which we’re leveraging to print medical face shields at a rate of 10,000 per month. We print, assemble and even ship them to FEMA or direct to hospitals. There are teams doing this today across North America, the UK and various European sites. In total, we’ve donated 1.2 million pieces of PPE. It really is impressive what we’re doing with a wide range of products all across the company.
What other kinds of requests have there been?
The second bucket has been to support various medical industry manufacturers, be it for PPE items in general or for ventilators specifically. We’re using our vast supply chain to help source component parts for ventilator manufacturers who need them to ramp up production. We were able to help one contract manufacturer that makes ventilators for three different companies with the sourcing of roughly 2,800 part numbers. About 70 of those part numbers we had on our shelves, so we could give them a half million pieces immediately, and the balance we were able to help them source through our vendors.
We’re also partnering with a well-known healthcare company to see if we can manufacture protective medical gowns for them. We seem to have the technical capability to do it through our Collins Aerospace interiors business, and interestingly, we would be using an alternate source of material from what this company has been traditionally using. And both Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense are manufacturing their own hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes that we’re now exploring to offer as donations.
What is the company doing to alleviate the shortage of ventilators?
Our Raytheon UK business was approached by the UK-based company Babcock, working in partnership with Drager, a German company, to help design a simple non-invasive ventilator that doesn’t use traditional components, meaning it can be built with parts that are more industrially available. That ventilator is going through its final stages of approval. We’re being asked to help produce as many as 5,000 of these ventilators and are awaiting the go-ahead to begin an initial run. Once they are up and fully running, the target is to produce 200 ventilators per day.
Pratt & Whitney also was asked to participate in a call for ventilator designs that went out from the Quebec government in conjunction with the Canadian government. They’re working with local industry, medical professionals and McGill University on the development of a simple ventilator. One of their design parameters was not to use components that a traditional ventilator manufacturer would use so as to not stress that supply chain. The team came up with a design that is made up of 50 components that are all industrially available. They were able to develop two working prototypes that have gone through testing and seem to be working well. If Health Canada issues final approval, we believe we could be building as many as 3,000 units by the end of June.
How do you evaluate requests for help?
We look at it from the standpoint of can we pragmatically help the situation in a timely manner, and if we can help relatively quickly, then we probably should. In some cases, it can just be a matter of us making some phone calls. In other cases, our role is much more involved. For example, when the State of Connecticut needed help in sourcing and transporting materials out of China, we chose to take the extra step of donating the material. But even with our staff and connections in China, it can take time and close coordination with the Chinese government and many others to get the shipment done. So, the question we always ask ourselves is can we really make a difference by getting involved? We’re not trying to limit where we help, we’re just trying to ensure our involvement will be meaningful to those who need it.
What has surprised you the most in terms of how the company responded to these requests?
I think what’s surprised me the most is not how we’ve responded, because I know our company well, and I know that we are a responsive group of people who are very focused on achieving results. What surprised me is that even when there weren’t specific requests coming in for help, there was a grassroots desire to help. And people were self-starting by reaching out locally and reaching out across the company to help. And that was everything from production of masks and gowns, to hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, to ventilators. And it was locally driven, people asking their leadership can we get involved because I think we could make item X or support hospital Y. And there was a lot of that going on, and there’s still a lot of that going on.
Is there anything about the company that makes it uniquely positioned to respond?
Well, I think one of the elements that allows us to help in this current situation is our global reach. We have nearly 200,000 people around the world, so we have the ability to really draw on the resources of a global community to help solve problems. When you combine that with our purchasing power and our engineering depth, which we can apply to so many fields beyond aerospace and defense, that makes us a very capable partner to so many institutions in this moment of need.
How is Raytheon Technologies helping small suppliers?
We spend about $6.8 billion annually with small business suppliers and have been in touch with many of them throughout this crisis to better understand how we can support them. We have already dispersed over $350 million in accelerated payments, which is the full amount that we’ve received to date from the recent progress payment increase from our DoD customers. We have also partnered with the SBA to help suppliers to better understand how to access government stimulus programs, and we continue to evaluate on a case-by-case basis other support mechanisms to help our suppliers.
What are you most proud of in terms of the company’s response?
I’m most proud of that grassroots desire that I’ve seen from across the organization from employees who want to help to define solutions to support the medical community. It just shows the kind of people we have at our company. We are a community of people who are oriented around service. And we can be proud that we are truly making a difference in the fight against this global pandemic.
Raytheon Technologies is using its manufacturing capacity and its expertise in engineering, logistics and finance to carry out initiatives that serve our communities, deliver on our commitments to our customers and protect our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about our efforts.