COVID-19 Response: How essential employees are tackling coronavirus from the production lines

COVID-19 Response: How essential employees are tackling coronavirus from the production lines
June 19, 2020

National security never stops and with employees deemed “critical” by the U.S. Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin is making sure the health and safety of the workforce is priority number one as the nation begins phased approaches to open back up. Wherever possible, Lockheed Martin employees have been offered flexible schedules and are teleworking to adhere to social distancing guidelines. There are also new cleaning procedures in place, including how tools are handled and, in some places, how areas are cleaned between shifts.

For those working the production lines since the coronavirus outbreak began, a sense of pride and comradery is emerging. Without compromising on work, Lockheed Martin production facilities are contributing in a big way to response and relief efforts nationwide.

“I personally have taken a full amount of pride in both being able to continue working for our civil space customers and our military customers,” says Brian Kaplun who is the senior manager for one of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Manufacturing labs in Denver. “My group has been responsible for producing and designing a lot of the PPE [personal protective equipment] that is being produced out of Lockheed. I just have a lot of pride for what I’ve been able to come to work to do.”

Kaplun is a Lockheed Martin employee of 15 years and runs a team of individuals who work in additive manufacturing and automation. In recent weeks, Brian says his team has been able to keep central programs moving forward and produce PPE for frontline hospital workers.

Brian Kaplun
Brian Kaplun sampling PPE manufactured for frontline medical workers

“Certainly one of the benefits of being able to work for a company like Lockheed Martin is that we do have a very robust supply chain that we work with,” Kaplun says. “We were able to utilize a lot of those contacts to get the materials that we would need. We found that the individuals that were in the supply chain were just as willing to step in and help.”

Kaplun adds there is a real sense of solidarity within the community and his colleagues. Everybody from his perspective wants to pitch in, and that includes the supply chain. Producing large quantities of PPE with no disruption to mission critical work for customers is a testament to the “indelible skills” of his Lockheed Martin team he says.

“There was not a need to reprioritize, mostly because of the additive manufacturing needs. We’re used to producing prototypes and we’re used to producing design concepts,” says Kaplun. “We were able to transfer those skills again utilizing our supply chain networks to a manufacturing method more conducive to large volume of production of a lot of these. We were able to deliver on all those customer commitments as well. Again, this is something that I’m very proud of with my folks.”

Jon Marchese must be on the production floor every day. He is a 10-year Lockheed Martin employee and supports all the manufacturing efforts for the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), Guided Multiple Launch systems and Army Tactical Missile Systems in Camden, Arkansas.

Jon Marchese
Jon Marchese on the production floor in Camden, Arkansas

“I’m on the production floor every day turning wrenches to help produce these systems to deliver,” Marchese says. “We are just as productive here. Nothing really has changed on our end. We’re all staying positive because we know that Lockheed Martin is doing everything it can to look out for us and our safety and our wellbeing.”

The same sense of pride Kaplun feels in Denver, is also prevalent in Arkansas at the manufacturing facility.

“We have a little bit higher sense of priority because we know our responsibility to supply for our warfighter,” Marchese says. “So that provides us with our sense of safety and security to continue to come to work every day. We haven’t really seen any disruptions with the supply chain. Communications these days is stronger than they ever are.”

Marchese also feels the same team spirit Kaplun mentioned within his team, proving that the Lockheed Martin workforce is banding together in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It seems like we’re a big family here and that we’re pulling through these difficult times,” he remarks. “We have a couple of colleagues here who are making personal protective masks at their homes to give to other employees and to donate to the community.”

How Lockheed Martin is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic