The Story Behind the Mask – 503 Fieldbus Technology Steps Up in the Fight Against COVID-19

Automation Technology Increases Production Rates for PPE

We all want to do what we can during times of pandemics like COVID-19. To contribute in some way to the greater cause and make a difference to help those in need. A large manufacturing company in Minnesota strives to deliver comfortable, well-designed personal protective equipment (PPE). And you can imagine the increase in demand when COVID-19 cases started to rise. They have been tirelessly working on supporting the fight against COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak by producing additional N95 masks. JHFOSTER supported the company using digital I/O and valve automation through Numatics G3 Fieldbus technology to assist production goals.

Mobilizing all of their available manufacturing resources, this specific manufacturer is working around the clock to ramp up production of their N95 respirators. These respirators are the front line of defense that arm healthcare workers worldwide providing the tools to fight the COVID-19 virus. The company has doubled its global output of masks to an annual rate of over 1.1 billion per year and will be increasing its overall capacity by more than 30 percent in the next 12 months. However, they were having trouble keeping up with the demand.

Increasing output of N95 respirators

Challenges: In order to fulfill orders of this magnitude, the company had to not only increase the amount of mask producing machines but also boost the speed of production output with those machines. In addition, because of the tight production deadlines, they did not have time to authorize new material. Enter in JHFOSTER Minnesota and automation.

Maximizing the Full Potential of G3 Technology

G3 Fieldbus Technology Valve Stack
Old Valve Stack

Results: For years, JHFOSTER has provided this company with pneumatic valves, FRL’s and G3 Fieldbus valve technology on their original machines. Familiar with their products, we were able to efficiently implement this technology updating their existing equipment, as well as fitting new equipment within a very short turnaround saving them valuable time in the overall set up. This unique distribution system allows system efficiency by allowing the same modules to be used in either centralized or distributed applications. Plus, the benefit of prepping the communication of the valves to the PLC was met with ease.

As a result of these actions, the company was able to simplify the operation, increase its production rate, and expand the output of N95 masks at an ever-increasing pace. They are continuing to do all they can to support and supply healthcare workers with the equipment to help protect their lives as they treat others. They are projected to meet their goal of 1.1 billion masks since implementing JHFOSTER’s Fieldbus solution.

Even more, the company was able to reach its midyear goal for increasing U.S. respiratory output. They are currently producing N95 respirators at a pace of over 50 million per month. They are expected to reach an output of 95 million per month this fall.

New updated valve stack

JHFOSTER is a leading distributor and integrator for automation products. For details on our complete line of pneumatic system components, or for information on the importance of pneumatic equipment in today’s automated facilities, contact us at 800.582.5162, visit or email us and get your questions answered.