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John Deere making face shields for health care workers

Amy Hadchek
for The Fence Post

To help offer a heartening boost to rural and other frontline health care workers, John Deere Company is doubling down on a recent commitment, and now instead of making 225,000 protective face shields, they have outlined a plan to produce 400,000 face shields.

Heightening its steadfastness, officials at John Deere headquarters in Moline, Ill., said ramping up production and distribution to support local health care workers through the COVID-19 challenge — in areas where they have 17 manufacturing units and then beyond — is all dependent on acquiring the materials and supplies, soon.

“For us, one of the things that has been most rewarding is not only making these protective face shields at the seeding plant in Moline, but also being able to distribute these in the manufacturing units. That’s because this is also about being able to give the employees in those areas the ability to give neighbors and friends of John Deere employees these protective face shields,” said Jennifer Hartmann, spokesperson for John Deere based in Moline. Hartmann told The Fence Post on Monday, April 20, “We expect to get these additional materials in, and the need is certainly great, to nearly double the original number of the protective face shields.”

“Even though, it’s originating at Moline, it’s enabling the employees in every one of the 17 manufacturing communities where we have a presence in the U.S. to support their local health care workers there, and meet the rural health care needs,” Hartmann added.


A factory representative will deliver the face shields to their local health care providers, she said.

John Deere has focused on 17 U.S.-based communities where the needs are there.

“Health care workers are working in more rural communities, so we haven’t limited distribution to hospitals, but these face shields have also been extended for use to dentists and nursing homes,” Hartmann said.

John Deere’s Moline seeding factory builds planters, and so employees were initially finished for the season, which was considered a normal work schedule for this time of year.

“So we have called employees back into work,” Hartmann said. “They would normally be on seasonal shutdown this time of year.”

Feedback from the employees regarding this additional contribution during the pandemic, has been very positive.

While John Deere is only making the protective face shields at its seeding factory in Moline, they are distributing them to those manufacturing 17 units, which include facilities in Iowa (Ottumwa, Waterloo, Dubuque,) in Springfield, Mo., as well as their locations in Georgia and Louisiana.

They’re also working with government agencies, and health departments to meet some of the greatest needs elsewhere across the U.S., which is also all dependent on getting the materials and supplies in.

“So every employee based in the U.S. has an opportunity to help health care workers in their own community,” Hartmann said.

In another safety-related development during the COVID-19 health challenge, John Deere has also designed a set of clips to keep John Deere employees safe. A couple of Deere engineers have created special clips that attach to a ballcap, and then to a protective face shield for protection as they work.

Tested in the factory and now put into production is a special clip that can be affixed to a standard protective ballcap, as well as three clips used to hold a protective face shield in place. The clips attach the protective shield to the ballcap, which has an inner protective bump-cap insert; a required personal protection item at many Deere factories.

Thanks to the creation of John Deere/Waterloo Works (Iowa) employees Kurt Bechthold, supervisor of tooling of mechanical engineering, and John Vieth, supervisor of tool design, Deere is now manufacturing the plastic clips in-house, using its own 3D printers. Numerous John Deere printers are now in action as engineers are making these 3D clips at a rapid clip. “Deere is making about 2,400 clips a day — a batch of 30 to 45 clips takes about 35 minutes to print — with the goal of completing enough clips to affix protective visors to 18,000 ballcaps,” said Eric Johnson, technical leader of additive manufacturing, in a statement on JohnDeereJournal.com. The website also says that, interestingly, while working from home, Bechthold used his own 3D printer to test five increased improvements of the clip design ultimately coming up with the final clip concept.

Although the company isn’t taking orders, company officials note it is possible to access the clip template for free.

“The clips are not orderable, but they are downloadable for anyone with a 3D printer,” Hartmann said. The design for these ballcap face shields is not for medical facilities, but these specific downloadable clip designs are intended for industrial or commercial work environments to keep safety first.

For information about the free download 3D printed ballcap clip, go to https://www.deere.com/en/covid19/innovations. ❖

— Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at rotatingstorm2004@yahoo.com.




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