Overwhelmed medical facilities are expanding and placing urgent orders for HVAC systems, putting AAON, Inc., a commercial heating and cooling equipment manufacturer based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
On March 29, AAON President and Director Gary Fields received a phone call from one of their sales partners in New York City regarding the need for a new temporary hospital.
“The city was a hotspot for coronavirus. Its permanent care facilities were overwhelmed,” said Fields. “City officials wanted to know what AAON could do to get a temporary space up by April 18. A total of three weeks.”
The temporary medical facility would need heating and cooling units with HEPA filtration systems, which are required in most medical facilities to ensure that recirculated air is clean. That meant standard “off-the-shelf” products wouldn’t work. AAON’s existing inventory also would not fit the bill. The facility needed something big enough to serve large spaces with only a few connections and small enough so the units could be unloaded and positioned using a traditional crane. So AAON sprang into action to design and manufacture the right products.
By the following evening, the project had begun to take shape. The temporary medical facility would involve a total of five tents, requiring 2,200 tons of air conditioning equipment with HEPA capabilities. On March 31 at 5:30 p.m., AAON received the official order. By the next morning at 6:00 a.m., the first of 44 identical 50-ton units began moving down the production line.
AAON team members worked around the clock to complete the order. Three days later, they completed the 44th and final unit, and by April 6, the units had all been delivered—well ahead of schedule.
In addition, AAON has been simultaneously producing other COVID-19 emergency supplies. The State University of New York College at Old Westbury requested 36 similar HVAC units to serve as an additional temporary medical site, and the manufacturer is currently filling orders for facilities in Cranston, Rhode Island, and Denver, Colorado, as well. AAON also recently sent five prototype UV light cabinets to a Springfield, Missouri, hospital, which plans to use them to disinfect masks and other materials.
“AAON was pleased to participate in the effort for this urgent shipment,” said Stephanie Cameron, Community Relations Administrator at AAON, who is also a member of the Manufacturing Institute’s Board of Advisors and a 2015 STEP Ahead Awards Honoree. “As an essential manufacturer of HVAC systems, we are doing all we can for our customers that have AAON equipment on critical infrastructure, and those customers that need new equipment or parts for critical infrastructure.”
Manufacturers around the country are stepping up to help their communities during this pandemic.
“In tough times, the men and women who make things in America can always be counted on to lead the fight,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Today, manufacturers are delivering on that promise and working to keep America healthy and strong.”