It all started when members of Northrop Grumman’s FabLabs began recognizing a standout need within their own communities....
Ideas Brewing to Solve Sanitizer Shortage
With individuals and businesses across the country facing shortages of hand sanitizer, Madeleine Low, director of Programs at the Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence (MAD CoE) in Melbourne, Florida, decided to explore alternate sources. Madeline’s team supports projects vital to national security and, as a result, must continue to work on-site at Northrop Grumman facilities rather than remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Combining her experience as a chemical engineer with her penchant for research, she had an idea on how to help employees at her site.
“I saw that some distilleries and breweries around the country were switching over [from making alcohol] and starting to make hand sanitizer … and thought it was awesome,” she said. By using waste products from alcohol production, many businesses have expanded their product lines to include hand sanitizer.
Knowing the MAD CoE was low on sanitizer, Madeleine contacted local breweries and distilleries in Melbourne and St. Augustine, Florida. Included on the list was Copper Bottom Craft Distillery. Located almost two hours away from Melbourne, they had been making and distributing sanitizer for healthcare workers, first responders and local businesses and were willing to work with Northrop Grumman.
“Within six hours, the idea was generated, and we had five gallons of hand sanitizer to support the team,” Madeleine explained. “But since they [Copper Bottom] are so far away, we needed a closer solution.”
What Came after the First Five Gallon Batch
With the five gallons from Copper Bottom dwindling, Madeleine branched out to Absolutely Natural — a skincare company known for its reef-safe sunscreen and other products, including sanitizer. When an order the company had fell through, Madeleine worked with Absolutely Natural to obtain 20 more gallons of hand sanitizer for Northrop Grumman. However, with the MAD CoE consuming nearly 22 gallons per week, Madeleine knew she would have to find a more sustainable source.
Enter Intracoastal Brewing Company. Madeleine had previously contacted them, but like so many companies, they did not have the required raw materials. Undeterred, Madeline worked with her cross-functional team at Northrop Grumman to get the purchase of the necessary raw materials approved and sent to the brewery. The result? Following Federal Drug Administration and World Health Organization standards, the first 300-gallon batch of sanitizer arrived at the MAD CoE April 20.
Protecting Her Work Family Without a Moment's Hesitation
As Steve Sullivan, Aeronautics Systems sector vice president and general manager, commented, “As soon as the Department of Defense asked our teams to continue working critical projects, Madeleine realized that her teammates would not be able to take advantage of working from home. This also meant that hand sanitizer would be vital for on-site workers, but challenging to acquire. Madeleine acted quickly to protect her work family.”
Through her efforts, Madeleine has extended Melbourne’s sanitizer supply to at least 13 weeks, with plans to continue the arrangement with Intracoastal Brewing Company long-term.
“I’m not a ‘that’s not my problem’ kinda gal,’” Madeleine said with a chuckle. ”If there’s a solution out there, I’ll find it.”
May 4, 2020