U.S. based Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. is known for its specialty papers. But when employees started brainstorming about ways to help the local community during the COVID-19 crisis, they set their sights on a niche product usually sold as a way to construct lightweight, sturdy exhibits at trade shows.
The product, Xanita Board, is manufactured by Xanita, based in Cape Town, and distributed by Mohawk in North America. It looks similar to corrugated cardboard, but its special construction makes it strong enough to bear weight. It can be cut to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, so no tools are required to build three-dimensional, weight-bearing structures. The material is also remarkably lightweight and easy to ship.
Reacting to news reports that hospitals in New York and nationwide in America could run out of space in the near future, Mohawk’s executive team reached out to engineers in South Africa to ask them if they thought Xanita Board could be used to easily construct hospital rooms. The team in Cape Town moved quickly. Less than 24 hours later, they sent a complete set of digital ‘cut files’, which detail how to construct room dividers and patient beds for use in pop-up hospitals to help with patient overflow.
‘We had hoped Xanita could assist with capacity needs during this crisis; we just didn’t know how or what that would ultimately look like,’ said Rowan Maher, CMO at Xanita. ‘When Mohawk reached out for assistance, we jumped at the opportunity to help.’
Xanita Board is sold in flat sheets that must then be specially cut. But since time is of the essence, Mohawk has partnered with DataFlow, a custom printing and signage company in Binghamton, NY, to do the cutting of this complete field hospital room solution in advance. All the Xanita Board currently on hand at Mohawk is ready to be converted at a moment’s notice into walls, beds, and other useful structures. It will then be shipped with easy-to-understand instructions so it can be built on-site in minutes, requiring no tools and simple nuts and bolts shipped with each kit. Because the boards are made from recycled cardboard, once the need for the temporary structures is complete, the units can be stored for re-use or turned back into pulp for paper.
‘We want to remove any barriers, any friction that might slow down our ability to help the health care community,’ said DataFlow’s Dan Zimmerman. ‘Partnering with Mohawk to provide pre-made kits seemed like the fastest way to get the job done.’
There is currently Xanita Board inventory on hand at Mohawk, with back up supply ready to ship to meet demand. The digital plans that explain how to cut and assemble the structures are available now and designed to be used with Xanita Board. Mohawk’s Vice President of Product Development, Mike Madura, said he hopes they’ll inspire more innovation.
‘Now is not the time to hold back knowledge that could help protect our communities from this crisis,’ Madura said. ‘For our merchants who have Xanita in stock, they’ll be able to easily offer these field hospital kits to their communities. And for any creative minds who want to help, we hope it will provide a foundation on which they can build their ideas.’
Mohawk is also offering warehouse space and logistical assistance to help expedite the transport of medical supplies, and expects to reconfigure some its converting facilities to speed PPE production for medical workers.
‘We are ecstatic that this creative collaboration with Xanita and DataFlow has given us an opportunity to make a positive difference during a difficult time,’ said Tom O’Connor III, Mohawk’s Vice President of Channel Management. ‘We hope no one needs these field hospital beds, but if they do, we would be proud to be able to help.’
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