Donations by the gallon: A new solution from Louisiana

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Making sanitizer for those in need

When the technicians, engineers and scientists at ExxonMobil’s manufacturing facilities in Baton Rouge and Port Allen, Louisiana, heard about the urgent need for sanitization products for the COVID-19 pandemic response, they quickly started to think about how they could help.

A few short weeks later, they’ve reconfigured manufacturing operations to produce up to 160,000 gallons of medical-grade sanitizer. ExxonMobil will donate the product to health care workers and other professionals on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initial donations are headed to Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.

"They’ve reconfigured manufacturing operations to produce up to 160,000 gallons of medical-grade sanitizer."

It’s the first time ExxonMobil has produced hand sanitizer. Although the company first introduced commercial-scale production of isopropyl alcohol, a key ingredient in hand sanitizer, more than 100 years ago, it has never produced hand sanitizer as a finished product.

Employees at the Baton Rouge Chemical Plant worked with their colleagues at the nearby Port Allen lubricants plant to set up a new system. The isopropyl alcohol made in Baton Rouge is  blended into hand sanitizer with other ingredients purchased by ExxonMobil and then sent to Port Allen to be packaged for distribution.

Repurposing part of the Port Allen facility, which normally blends and packages Mobil-branded lubricants, took some creative thinking and agile engineering. This included designing a semi-automated machine to fill six quart-sized bottles of hand sanitizer at a time.

ExxonMobil workers at both plants were sure to maintain proper social distancing protocols while integrating the new processes, which presented its own set of challenges.

Take a look at how this group of ExxonMobil employees rallied to deliver for healthcare workers and frontline professionals fighting the pandemic. 

Getting things done

In a matter of weeks, employees at ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge and Port Allen facilities have led a massive effort to create a whole new product supply line of medical-grade hand sanitizer to donate to frontline workers.

The Baton Rouge Chemical Plant houses the world’s largest isopropyl alcohol production unit. Here, operators make isopropyl alcohol and then blend it with other ingredients to make medical-grade sanitizer.
The chemical experts use their knowledge and the Federal Drug Administration’s guidance to ensure the product meets all health and safety requirements.
Then, the Baton Rouge team trucks 300-gallon containers of the sanitizer across the Mississippi River to ExxonMobil’s Port Allen lubricants plant, where colleagues are ready to package the sanitizer.
The team pioneered an automatic filler for quart-sized sanitizer bottles to help speed up operations.
One of the challenges of the project is safely packaging flammable material. That’s why the sanitizer is packaged outdoors.
The group works quickly and safely to package and transport the finished hand sanitizer. Employees from across the facilities are eager to lend a hand. Baton Rouge is on track to distribute 160,000 gallons around the country.
And employees like Ryan Beissinger are shifting their workday to deliver sanitizer to the front lines, like the Baton Rouge General Hospital.
Tags:   Baton RougeCOVID-19FDAisopropyl alcohol
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