For this month’s Customer Spotlight, we spoke with Charles Boyce, President and CEO of Boyce Technologies of Long Island City, New York. Boyce produces easy-to-use and reliable safety and communications equipment for the New York subway system and other clients. After seeing the impact of the current health crisis, Boyce found a way to step up and make a difference.
Q: Charles, we’ve heard that your company is part of the effort to mass produce ventilators in response to the COVID-19 situation. Can you tell us a bit more about your decision to focus your manufacturing on this effort?
A: A few weeks ago, I was driving to work thinking about how the pandemic was unfolding. Being an essential business, it was very emotional bringing people into the factory to work. I was really wondering what type of disaster was about to befall my city, New York.
The difficulty of finding PPE was already an issue and we were producing tens of thousands of face shields a week. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and I always brag about being able to do anything. So, I went into work, met with the engineers, and said we were going to make ventilators.
Coincidentally, a friend from New Lab called that same morning to ask if I was interested in producing a ventilator that they were designing. I told him I had already started. We created a team of companies from Boyce Technologies, New Lab, and 10X Beta, and began working with the MIT designs. Open source was not an option due to the fact that ventilators can hurt you as quickly as help you, so we focused on making this a commercially viable product. Our adaptive engineered manufacturing process allowed us to invent and produce at the same time. About 25 versions of the ventilator went into the trash. If we waited to do everything consecutively, that would have meant 6 months to a year for the design process. We did it in a month.
Q: Prior to your efforts with ventilators, what was Boyce Technologies manufacturing?
A: Boyce Technologies manufactures life safety and security equipment for mass transit.
Q: How did you get your start? Can you share a little company history?
A: About 30 years ago, right out of college, I was called by a friend to see if I could solve a problem in electronics security for the New York city transit system. I designed the emergency booth communication system. After that successful project, I continued to design systems for the transit system for over 25 years. About seven years ago, I changed careers from just designing and project managing to the creation of a new company that still did the design, but also included the fabrication of these systems. This new company has large scale and vertical manufacturing capabilities all under one roof. This flexibility has allowed us to change iterations to something like the new ventilator project extremely quickly.
Q: What obstacles did you face along the way?
A: Mostly they were supply chain-oriented, which is why I decided to bring as much as possible under one roof. The main challenge I have right now is designing a product that is immediately scalable.
Q: Did your business model allow for your flexibility in changing product lines into a ventilator production facility?
A: A few weeks ago, I didn’t know what a ventilator was. All electronic products have a micro-controller, a circuit board, a chassis, etc. It can be a toaster, refrigerator, or a ventilator. It’s like eating a meal at night, you only have a few choices like beef, chicken, lamb, or fish. Your choices are limited. Being a truly vertically integrated manufacturing facility made this a very easy adaptation. It took about three days and it will take about three days to go back to what we were producing before.
Q: How has Reliant Finishing Equipment helped in your process?
A: We have a very large powder coating line in a compact space. We run it 24/7. The ability to have in-house finishing is an important part of our process. If parts don’t look good, they aren’t good. They need to be durable and clean, especially for medical equipment. Having a fast finishing system enables us to quickly produce and ship 300+ ventilators per day.
Q: Why did you decide to purchase Reliant equipment?
A: A word of mouth recommendation from a powder coater we used to use, directed us to contact Reliant. Reliant was very responsive and flexible in working with the space that we had within the delivery times that we needed. Agility, offering a turn-key system, and being a U.S. manufacturer has made it a pleasure working with Reliant. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Q: Can you give us your thoughts on the future of American manufacturing?
A: Overseas dependency has hurt the U.S. Delivery times, loss of control, and design laziness have been revealed as problematic. It’s been time for manufacturing to return to the U.S. We didn’t predict a global event such as this, but we did not want to be controlled by sub-contractors of any sort.
At Boyce, we’re expanding and will be quadrupled in size in a couple of years. I think this pandemic has proven that we need to be more self-sufficient–and that’s an understatement. Boyce Technologies is well-positioned to be a model of adaptive engineered manufacturing. We are very proud to be located in New York City, the most amazing and powerful city in the world!
Charles, thank you so much for your time and your company’s awesome support of our country’s medical system during this crisis.
Please visit Boyce Technologies at http://www.boycetechnologies.com/ to see some of their products and their incredible state-of-the-art facility. You can also check them out on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter.
ABC online article: https://abc7ny.com/ventilators-de-blasio-coronavirus-nyc-update/6119823/