HTPG Fast Tracks Refrigeration Units for COVID Vaccines

Jan. 13, 2021
Ambitious refrigeration unit production team ramped up activity during a two-week production push in conjunction with 'Operation Warp Speed' vaccine production and delivery.

Heat Transfer Products Group (HTPG), a division of Rheem Manufacturing and a leading manufacturer in commercial refrigeration, has been developing equipment to maintain specific temperatures for COVID-19 vaccine storage. In September 2020, as the vaccine moved closer to the production stage, HTPG's Scottsboro, Ala. facility was reconfigured, to increase unit output and accommodate the new production for one of its customers, KPS Global.

The effort is part of a public-private partnership to which HTPG brings its expertise in commercial refrigeration and temperature-controlled supply chain. The partnership aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 across the United States. 

“Vaccines such as the ones for COVID-19 must be stored in an exact temperature range to ensure potency,” said Mark Evans, vice president and general manager, HTPG.We ramped up production at our factory to maximum levels as part of our commitment to meet deadlines and respond to this critical moment in our nation’s history.”    

Evans credited employees for meeting ambitious deadlines weeks ahead of schedule.

"Our employees' response was extraordinary," Evans said. "Our team is honored to be part of this process and proud to build equipment that will maintain specific temperatures for life-saving vaccines."

KPS Global, Ft. Worth, Tex., sought HTPG’s deep expertise in cold chain logistics to help maintain the integrity of the healthcare supply chain. Since then, HTPG has been working closely with KPS, a direct customer of McKesson, a centralized distributor of COVID-19 that also provides supplies needed to administer the vaccinations. 

Ron Stewart, director of sales, Western US at HTPG, said KPS Global expressed the urgency of providing refrigeration units on a fast track schedule, in a time frame that would ensure the refrigeration units were at the proper sub-zero temperature prior to vaccine storage.

"We determined what it was going to take to make this happen, and it was an entire team effort from operations to management to sales. We all had to get together, and although we never like to do so, we had to put other customer orders on hold, and communicate [to customers] the importance of this and why we were doing it."

"The units had to be at temperature no later than November 1. That drove us to look at the requirement and orders and make some decisions to shut down the majority of our lines [being used for other orders] so that we could hit the required dates," Stewart explained. Most customers understood what we were going through."

HTPG manufactured 28 Russell QV Series condensing units and 64 large and medium profile evaporators in two phases of production. Production required two, seven-day work weeks and 10-hour days during the accelerated production schedule.