Eclipse Automation Partners With Harmontronics to Facilitate N95 Mask Production in Ontario

April 16, 2020 by Alessandro Mascellino

Industrial manufacturing company, Eclipse Automation, will partner up with Harmontronics Automation of Suzhou, China, to produce respirator masks needed to tackle the COVID-19 emergency.

Following the partnership, Eclipse will obtain the exclusive right to manufacture, sell, distribute, service, commission and modify Harmontronics fully automated N95 Vertical Flat-Fold Respirator masks across all North America.

According to Eclipse, the new manufacturing system should be installed and capable of starting operations at Eclipse’s facility in Cambridge, Ontario by the first week of May.


An International Collaboration

Eclipse Automation’s main headquarters are based in Ontario, Canada, but the company has 14 facilities across Canada, the US, and Europe.

The company specializes in automated manufacturing equipment for the life sciences, energy, transportation, consumer, and electronics industries. Eclipse, however, had to this point not yet manufactured respirator masks outside China.

The production of masks and other protective equipment across the global healthcare industry is critical in the fight against COVID-19, and most countries are struggling to keep up with the demand.

In order to become the first point of health care supply chain help in Canada, Eclipse partnered with Harmontronics Automation, which expertise focuses on small and precise product manufacturing for the Healthcare, Automotive Electronics, New Energy and Industrial IoT industries.


n95 masks

N95 respirator mask. Image used courtesy of Eclipse Automation.


“When it comes to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone has a role to play,” said Harmontronics President and CEO Albert Cai.

“Harmontronics has extensive experience in medical device automation and we are taking effort to provide more mask automation systems to Chinese and overseas markets,” he explained.


Companies Stepping Up to Help

Eclipse and Harmontronics did not specify whether they are stopping regular production to make N95 masks, but given the four-week deadline, it is understood a significant part of Eclipse’s workforce and industrial machinery power in Ontario could be diverted to that end.

The companies are not the first industrial company to be stepping up to help global healthcare experts during these challenging times, but certain types of expertise are required to produce reliable healthcare equipment.

“I am seeing a lot of companies, with the best of intentions, trying to get into this arena but without the experience in medical device automation, they may be chasing inferior systems that could be unsafe to run and produce faulty masks,” said Steve Mai, President, and CEO of Eclipse.

Mai explained that Eclipse has already been producing N95 masks in China, so any modifications required to meet North American specifications will be done efficiently and promptly at the company’s facility in Ontario.

“We can expedite this to provide a top-notch N95 mask automation system and lead the process to see that it can be scaled to all who need it,” the Eclipse CEO added. “We can deliver a level of proactive control to the solution that is crucial for such an important product.”


Scaling Up Manufacturing Processes

According to a press release on the Eclipse Automation blog, following the partnership, the manufacturing will still scale from the Harmontronics facility in China.

The Eclipse team will then collaborate with their customers and Harmontronics to assure high standards for safety, spare parts and usability.

“This partnership combines Harmontronics intelligent automated machine designing and building with Eclipse’s automation expertise to localize the equipment and to help local customers for production ramp-up,” Cai said.

The combination of Eclipse’s strong presence in North American presence and automation expertise with Harmontronics’ design and in-process machine inventory for healthcare application, will hopefully enable a rapid online production and address an urgent global need for respirator masks.


What are you excited to see come from this partnership?