Turning Nike Air into personal protective equipment was the only way to get it done quickly.
Like Ikea, Apple, Ford and many other companies Nike has responded to the coronavirus crisis by switching some of its assembly lines to manufacturing medical supplies and personal protective equipment. To date, the manufacturer has already provided 290,000 units of such products to more than 20 hospitals in the United States.
At the same time, the company faced a difficult task - it was necessary to launch the production of such goods as quickly as possible, but to do it without a global restructuring of production lines and without the need to disrupt the already established supply chain ecosystem. For this reason, it was decided to first try out everything that is already at hand.
According to Michael Donahue, Nike's vice president of innovation, it took just half a day for Nike employees to create dozens of working prototypes. In the evening, the most promising of them got tested by medical professionals, who quickly chose the most suitable solution. Then it took some more time to establish industrial production.
While the average Nike product goes from concept to production in as little as 18 months, the team was able to produce face shields in just two weeks. And this despite the fact that it was still necessary to make some changes to the production lines at two factories located thousands of kilometers apart in conditions of broken communications. At the same time, the company has been actively working to introduce new social distancing procedures.
But Nike prides itself not only on the speed of developing an important product, but also on the fact that it was possible to create it using only materials that were at hand. For example, for the shield itself, they used thermoplastic polyurethane, which is used to create Nike Air sneakers. To fasten the shield, they used laces and fasteners used in the company's jackets. And the soft forehead pad is made using Dri-Fit fabric, which the brand actively uses in the manufacture of sportswear.