Combatting the Covid-19

LEMO & Covid-19

As a key supplier to medical device manufacturers, LEMO has immediately responded to pressing demands from customers, despite the impact of the pandemic on its production forces.

The story of an emblematic example of commitment, one out of thousands of other companies in the world.

It was in late December 2019 that LEMO had its first contact with the COVID-19 : the Group’s Chinese staff had then heard about a virus raging in the province of Wuhan. Vague at first, then growing into a very real threat by mid-January : the media report an epidemic and call for caution. On the 23rd, the first day of the Chinese New Year holidays, Wuhan is completely sealed off and the 150 Chinese LEMO employees start two weeks of lockdown, just like all their fellow-citizens.

In Ecublens (Switzerland) where the head office of the LEMO Group and the bulk of its production staff are located, a first measure is introduced: management suspends travel to China and recommends hygiene rules. On 31st January, whilst the WHO declares a global health emergency, LEMO asks its subsidiaries to find masks for their Chinese colleagues after local supplies have been exhausted.

On 10th February, as scheduled by the government, LEMO’s Chinese offices resume their operations. First, only shipping staff go back, the others have been equipped for teleworking. Onsite personnel are gradually increased. In mid-February, they receive 20,000 masks from their European colleagues. “ This has really made our return easier ”, comments the subsidiary director David Ge. “ This quick support was also very moving, as it reminded us that we are part of a family that protects its members. It was a strong sign of encouragement.

At the same time, a tense calm has settled over Europe. Will the COVID-19 come or stay at the gates of Europe as the SARS (Asia, 2002) and MERS (Middle East, 2012) did ? There are definitely a few outbreaks, but on 6th February, there are only about 30 confirmed positive cases on the Old Continent. Even in Italy, nothing predicts the storm that would come and hit the country : the first death linked to the COVID-19 is announced on 21st February, when the country has only counted 20 confirmed cases.

In Switzerland, the virus remains absent from statistics. Still, on 28th February, the LEMO Group reinforces its recommendations in terms of hygiene and extends the travel ban to South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Iran and the North of Italy.

Then comes the month of March.

The month during which the epidemic is officially declared a pandemic, with Europe being its epicentre. Italian statistics are a brutal expression of its severity : by 1st March, the virus causes 34 deaths, four weeks later, the death toll has risen to over 10,000.

On 4th March, one day before the first registered death in Switzerland, LEMO decides to implement new quarantine measures, recommends meetings through videoconference, and introduces the WHO hygiene measures. HR and IT prepare teleworking for as many people as possible.

In mid-March, when all the Chinese staff are back at work, Switzerland comes to a standstill. After closing the schools, the government bans all “ non-essential ” activities and “ Stay at home ” becomes the watchword. From one day to another, thousands of Swiss companies come to a halt.

For LEMO, this is not an option. 

The Swiss company is a key partner to major respiratory assistance system manufacturers, crucial in combatting the COVID-19, the shortage of which has dramatic effects. LEMO also supplies most major medical technology manufacturers supplying solutions for operating theatres and intensive care units. They are all engaged in a race against time. They must produce so that a maximum of lives can be saved. They depend on their suppliers to meet the demands.

LEMO gets urging messages from ventilator manufacturers, sometimes supported by just as urging letters from governments. Meeting such exceptional demand is as much an industrial as a moral duty, so on 23rd March, LEMO decides to reorient all its production.

More specifically, explains the CEO Alexandre Pesci in a message to all Swiss factories, “ I requested that all manufacturing orders for systems linked to COVID-19 should be given first priority and all orders for other medical equipment second priority.

LEMO implements this prioritization instantly. From now on, all orders linked with the battle against the pandemic are processed upon arrival. Even if it means stopping another ongoing production order.

The most wanted solutions are, unsurprisingly, the two connectors that LEMO sells most in the medical sector : the metal LEMO B series and the REDEL P plastic. But there are others as well : “ The range is more varied than we thought ”, says Nicolas Amoudruz, production manager. “ There’s also a demand for M, D, K and S series. These solutions are used for patient life-sustaining equipment, monitoring systems or providing treatment, such as perfusion ”.

Redirecting production does not only affect the Ecublens plant, even if the HQ is by far the largest production site, where all the components converge for assembly. It also affects the other Swiss component manufacturing plants in Delémont (LEMO 5 factory) and Sainte-Croix (REDEL factory), and also the Hungarian REDEL Kft factory where P series connectors are assembled.

What about non-priority production ? Do customers accept waiting ? “ Not all machines are involved, so standard production goes on ”, answers Amoudruz. “ Furthermore, we endeavour to produce their most important orders without incurring a delay. ” For other orders, the Group subsidiaries ask customers for their understanding. The obvious severity and urgency of the health crisis are recognised by all.

The subsidiaries acknowledge the efforts and flexibility of production plants – their thank you messages are posted at the headquarters. These encouragements are welcome, since LEMO production – like thousands of other companies around the world – has also been directly impacted by the pandemic and its effects.

A first contamination in Ecublens on 17th March obliges Nicolas Amoudruz to send 80 to 90 people home from manual assembly. Quarantine for them while the workshop is being decontaminated. Work resumes only five days later, with many people absent.

Additional protections are decided (the Swiss government enforces measures on companies as of 19th March). Temperature checks at the entry, distancing workplaces, setting up partitions… dozens of various measures are taken at the Swiss and Hungarian factories.

It is also decided to set up work shifts that do not overlap, so that, in case of contamination, only one of them is affected. The week after, unfortunately, there’s a new positive case in the automation department. “ We didn’t have enough time to decontaminate before the arrival of the next shift ” recalls Amoudruz. “ So, as a precaution, we shut off this workspace completely. ” Fifteen people are sent home.

LEMO & Covid-19
LEMO & Covid-19


Two cases, that is a very small number. However, in the persistent anxiety-inducing context, the psychological effect is felt throughout the company. In Ecublens, like at other companies in Switzerland and around the world, concerns arise. Is it safe to go to work ? Do employees risk their lives and that of their families ? Shouldn’t production be completely shut off ? These perfectly legitimate questions are rapidly addressed by LEMO’s management.

We made a great effort in internal communication ” explains Nicolas Amoudruz. “ We described in detail LEMO’s role in our customers’ supply chain, why we had to stay open and why we had to commit to the battle against this global threat. ” The message got through even better than expected. “ The atmosphere relaxed very quickly, and I could feel a huge motivation, given the importance and urgency of our mission. ” LEMO has been producing medical solutions for decades – it is its largest market. The current dramatic situation has further amplified the sense of this mission. “ People are proud to assemble technologies that contribute to saving lives from the COVID-19. This shared feeling across all of our manufacturing plants, has had a strong federating effect.

In addition, on 25th March, the CEO Alexandre Pesci joins production and sets to work in the assembly workshop. He returns several times during the following days. All the top management, as well as some other volunteers join in, as a sign of solidarity with the production teams and to show their trust in the protection measures implemented.

As a matter of fact, the measures prove to be efficient: in mid-April, only a dozen confirmed cases have been recorded at the Swiss production plants, none in Hungary. The same positive picture at the large subsidiaries : no confirmed contamination in China, Germany or UK (at the time of going to print).

All the same, during the third week of March, production staff in Ecublens drop to 40% (and even 30% in the manual assembly workshop). The temporary shut-down of the workshop is not the only reason. Some people are in quarantine because they had been in contact with a sick friend or parent, some were sent home because they are at risk or have symptoms. Applying the sanitary protection measures (distancing, rotation) has also reduced working hours. “ It wasn’t easy to manage ! ” says Amoudruz. “ Luckily, the workforce increased afterwards.

The manager also gets some help from outside. “ About a dozen of people from engineering and industrialisation were redirected to production. ” Their hours add up to those worked by top management and the volunteers.

The increased efforts to meet the demand from medical companies will have involved all the factories and all hierarchy levels. The positive effect of such crises is that they contribute to uniting people.

At last, the terrible month of March comes to an end.

In Europe, confinement measures and employee protection seem to have worked. Gradually, Switzerland, France and even Italy weather the storm and come out of it, still somewhat bewildered and very cautious. Governments schedule lifting the measures progressively.

The epicentre of the pandemic has now moved to the United States, where it is hitting hard. Africa and South America have also started to be heavily impacted. Many thousands of lives are still to be saved, perhaps even more. The LEMO Group’s production continues in “ COVID-19 prioritisation ”.


An active player for decades in the medical sector, LEMO has become a preferred partner thanks to the ruggedness, reliability and ease of use of its solutions. Today, the Swiss group supplies most major medical technology companies, including ventilators.

Like other key suppliers of the sector, not to mention healthcare staff, LEMO committed to the global battle against the COVID-19. Its role has been acknowledged by the government of the Swiss Canton of Vaud (where LEMO is established) and received the authorisation to continue working even throughout the peak of the pandemic.

 The applications of its solutions in respiratory assistance equipment are varied. For Chinese, English, Swiss and US devices, the LEMO Group’s products connect sensor systems to measure and regulate CO2, temperature, or humidity. For a Canadian manufacturer they are for sensors monitoring the patient’s vital signs. For Swiss manufacturers they are for floating rotor systems or screen systems.

Other medical technologies – central to the functioning of hospital emergency or intensive care units – also use LEMO connectors. More specifically, in patient monitoring (sensors measuring the level of 02), infusion administration, blood testing and cardiac resuscitation. There are also LEMO connectors in the automatic body temperature measuring systems in public spaces.


Covid cable