A historic breakthrough. An unprecedented technological leap, with the potential to save countless lives. The race to develop, produce and distribute COVID-19 vaccines represents an unparalleled global effort, requiring the collaboration of top experts from government and private industry.
While Parker Hannifin has always supported the manufacture of flu vaccines and clinical drugs, building the high-capacity filtration and dispense systems necessary to rapidly scale COVID-19 vaccination efforts was anything but business as usual.
“Part of our Filtration Group’s charter is to purify and protect,” explains Allison Finch, technical services support engineer for Parker’s Bioscience and Water Filtration Division. “So we’ve seen a vast increase in the demand for our filtration and dispense systems and we’ve been able to fine-tune our designs to support evolving customer needs and different applications.”
That’s exactly the type of growth and expansion that the U.S. Department of Defense envisioned when the White House announced Operation Warp Speed on May 15, 2020. The target was to accelerate development, production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and deliver 300 million doses by January 2021.
For Carlo Ebora, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Ebora had recently been laid off when he heard that Parker was looking to expand its team in response to the pandemic. By June 2020, Ebora had joined the engineering team in Oxnard, California, working with Finch.
“Nearly everything you see in the world has Parker products in it, and yet, I had no idea that Parker had filtration systems and worked with drug manufacturers,” he explains. “So when they told me the COVID-19 vaccine was one of their priorities, especially right now in this business, that hit home for me. It strikes you as a team member--that you’re helping make the world a better place.”
Thanks to existing connections and relationships within the industry, Finch, Ebora and a whole team of essential workers at Parker mobilized around the effort, using automation to increase the filling capacity of the company’s Filter and Dispense System from 200 liters per day to 2,000 liters per hour, overcoming supply chain issues and meeting previously unheard-of timelines.
“The F&D System is a combination of several different Parker technologies and each plays a critical role in the production process,” adds Ebora. “Today, Parker’s Filter and Dispense System is able to filter five-and-a-half million doses in an eight-hour cycle, which used to take 48 hours to complete.”
All the while, safety was the priority. As team members were ramping up amidst a global pandemic and responding with purpose to support evolving demands on multiple fronts, Parker did everything possible to ensure the health and safety of its people at work—and at home. It’s a story of adaptability, resilience and warm reunions:
“My Grandma was recently vaccinated and I went to see her as soon as it was safe to do so,” says Finch. “It was really great for me to catch up with her after not having been able to see her for so long. It’s satisfying to know that we made a difference in changing people’s lives for the better so they could get vaccinated and try to get back to some level of normalcy in life.”
“Parker’s purpose is Enabling Engineering Breakthroughs that Lead to a Better Tomorrow, and now we’ve all lived that,” explains Ebora. “Contributing to the final goal of getting everyone vaccinated is a great feeling. And, being able to have that interaction with people again is just amazing.”