BARRIE -- As the demand for medical supplies across Canada increases, local manufacturing companies are switching gears to help.

Barrie based Innovative Automation, a company that specializes in automated manufacturing, has put some projects on pause to help in the fight against COVID-19. The company now has a team of engineers working on creating prototypes for a medical face shield and a ventilator.

The face shields are being tested at local hospitals and could be in production as soon as this week.

“If everybody’s good with the samples, then we’ll actually start manufacturing the materials,” said the company’s president Stephen Loftus on Tuesday.

The ventilators created by Innovative Automation would be simplified versions.

“It’s not going to be monitoring body oxygen and all of those items that a traditional ventilator would do,” says Loftus.

But he went on to explain that they would work in emergency situations when the demand is exceptionally high.

“At some point, medical staff is going to have to make the decision who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t, which, I personally, wouldn't want to be in that position, so our goal is to help them not have to make that decision,” Loftus added.

Another local company, Molded Precision Components (MPC), based out of Oro-Medonte, is also re-prioritizing to help with medical manufacturing.

The engineering and injection moulding company typically manufactures for the automotive sector, using a variety of tools like 3D printing, product design and precision injection moulding.

But with auto sales going down, the company president, David Yeaman, says he has asked engineers to shift focus, to create new face shields and to make parts for ventilators.

“We’ve committed to not laying anyone off, and are redeploying every resource that we have towards helping against COVID.”

MPC’s prototype for a face shield should be finished on Wednesday.

“We’re going to be starting out with a single cavity tool, and we’ll be able to make, you know, close to about 4,000 a day.”

That’s just the beginning. Once more machines are up and running, MPC could eventually be producing millions of face shields.

Yeaman explained that for a while, the company won’t have any income, as it produces these items, because it doesn’t have contracts from the government yet, but know’s there is a need, so is forging ahead.

“If we wait until the government gets everything in order, it will be too late.”

Both Loftus and Yeaman say, as innovators, they want to step up and help their community during this crisis.

Innovation Automation could eventually hire several new people, and MPC is already looking to hire project engineers, tool design engineers, mould makers, and other positions.