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Local machiner ramps production of ventilator valves

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Mar 24, 2020

W. H. Bagshaw machinist Josh Hardwick works on a valve component that will be shipped to a Hollis firm that manufactures valves for ventilators. (Photo by KRISTEN HARDWICK)

NASHUA – They probably don’t know it, but the hundreds of motorists who traverse the Broad Street Parkway or access the city’s Millyard District these days are driving right past a business on the front lines of the worldwide COVID-19 response.

W. H. Bagshaw, the five-generation family operated machine shop currently observing its 150th anniversary, got word last week that the demand for some of its products was about to hit high gear, according to Adria Bagshaw, who currently runs the business with her husband, Aaron Bagshaw.

“They called us and asked us to ‘increase tremendously’ our production,” Adria Bagshaw said Monday, referring to Parker-Hannifin, a global firm whose facility in neighboring Hollis contracts with Bagshaw for some of the components that go into the ventilator valves Parker-Hannifin manufactures.

Parker-Hannifin valves, Bagshaw said, are used in roughly 50 percent of the world’s supply of ventilators – items that have burst upon the forefront of the regional, national and global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “increase tremendously” request prompted the Bagshaws to purchase two additional computer-numeric-controlled machines, bringing to 32 the number of the specialized machines.

Also in response to the increased demand, the Bagshaws have begun hiring additional skilled machinists to cover its expanded shifts and heavier workload.

“It’s important to us that we step up and fill this vital need,” Adria Bagshaw said.

With the increased work comes increased health-safety measures for all employees, she added. For instance, second-shift employees now report to work 45 minutes later than usual, so they don’t cross paths with first-shift workers leaving for the day.

In between shifts, a crew “sanitizes all surfaces,” Bagshaw said.

Meanwhile, demand also has been ramping up fast and furious over at Parker-Hannifin’s Precision Fluidics Division in Hollis.

“We’re getting a lot of crazy numbers from our customers … we’re trying to work through it with them,” John Coskren, the division’s sourcing manager, said Monday afternoon.

The valves the firm manufactures range in size, the smallest being about 8 millimeters by 15 millimeters, Coskren said. The ventilator valves are somewhat larger, and at least these days, are more than somewhat in demand.

He said W.H. Bagshaw has been supplying Parker-Hannifin with valve components for several years now, and in recent days the firms have been in almost-constant contact.

Besides ventilator valves, the Hollis division also manufactures components of medical monitoring equipment, such as blood-pressure devices. But these days, it’s the valves that “are getting all the attention,” Coskren said.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This content is being provided for free as a public service to our community during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Telegraph at https://home.nashuatelegraph.com/clickshare/checkDelivery.do;jsessionid=40C089D96583CD7318C1C1D9317B6162.

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