Using its manufacturing machines and plastic crafting expertise, Duluth's Loll Designs has created a design for a field hospital bed.
The field beds would replace cots found in makeshift coronavirus shelters. With the design in hand, the local business, known for its outdoor furniture made out of recycled plastic, is now looking for a partner to move the design forward to production stage, said CEO Greg Benson.
"If people talk about it, we'll get to the right person," Benson said. "We can do it. ... We have a factory. We have raw material, people and everything we need. We just need someone to say we'll take (your beds)."
The field beds can be made by staff on the same machines that make Loll's furniture, resulting in a potential production peak of anywhere from 100-200 beds daily, Benson said.
"It's not outside of what we do," he said. "We could make that ... all day long."
Benson said they had to help out amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They considered making face masks and ventilator parts — other highly in-demand personal protective equipment. Then a designer reached out and suggested making hospital beds, which closely resemble Loll's chaise lounge chairs, Benson said.
"We just kind of built it off of one of our chaise lounges, which we make a lot of. ... (And) we just kind of redesigned it," he said.
Just like Loll's other furniture, the field beds would be made of recycled plastic. The material is nonporous, can be wiped off with disinfectants and bleach, and is already used in many hospital environments, Benson said.
Loll hasn't built a bed yet, as it's pursuing partnerships with the National Guard, U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Benson is waiting to hear back from all three.
"We have a lot of raw material," he said. "Maybe we could bring people back and we could just flip over and just make this bed."
Loll is shut down because of Gov. Tim Walz's mandate to close nonessential businesses. If they secure a partner, they would open back up and sell the beds for around $1,200 – the cost of materials and labor, he said.
"We weren't in this field and we don't know who to call. So really, we just got to get the word out that we can do it," Benson said.