Face-mask dilemma solved: Masks from here, for all, immediately

Berlin, April 27, 2020 - A small robotic factory quickly produces and sells masks locally.

There is an urgent need for something to change in production of the coveted mouth-and-nose (oronasal) protection masks. Two Berlin companies have acted early and started unusual cooperation. The result: the masks can now be produced, packaged and offered exactly where they are needed. Fast, inexpensive, space-saving and completely automatically. The RespiratorBot could supply the whole of Germany. The first mini-factories will be delivered already in May.

Today, when you say “factory”, you usually mean huge halls, somewhere far away from the lives of the people who need the product in question. This is precisely what the Corona crisis has made into a problem: when demand rises sharply, global supply chains appear less resilient - and are prone to corruption. In the case of medical protective equipment, the failure of a delivery can cost human lives.

Enter: pi4_robotics and Mikron Berlin. “Together, our companies have everything we need to solve this problem”, says Matthias Krinke, Managing Director of pi4_robotics. The company has recently caused a sensation in the retail trade: it is the only manufacturer of robots in the world that manufactures products independently and sells them directly, in its own worker robot kiosk, around the clock. Mikron Berlin, in turn, specializes in manufacturing systems for large quantities. “We wanted to get a fast production line for mouth-and-nose protection masks into as small an area as possible”, says Nils Rödel, Managing Director at Mikron Berlin. “In addition, the system should be absolutely easy to maintain and adjust”.

The result is the RespiratorBot: A mini-factory complete with sales staff - but almost entirely without human labor. It fits into a normal sea freight container in which it can be both transported and set up. For example, in front of a hospital, next to a shopping center, behind a school. The integrated air conditioning system with an air purification filter enables production even in places with high levels of virus contamination. The system independently reports material requirements and quantities via the Cloud. This keeps the use of people and thus the risk of infection to a low level.

Because transport routes are eliminated, the end product becomes cheaper. This is especially true for the option of selling the masks to individual end users right at the place of production. Depending on the set-up, the system can offer packs of 10 or individual masks - packed cleanly in welded bags and, if desired, in printed bags and boxes. Of course, all masks have a nose clip and a center layer of special, particularly fine meltblown material. The customer can certify them as medical products. A single RespiratorBot produces more than two million units per month. “We have calculated from official statistics that medical personnel in Germany need at least 50 million mouth-and-nose protection masks per month”, says Nils Rödel from Mikron. “We could cover this demand with just 25 containers”. And Matthias Krinke adds: “Since we already have a nationwide mouth protection obligation for the public, the RespiratorBot with its direct sale is particularly well suited to supply people close to their daily life”.

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