CAIRE Increases Production of Oxygen Equipment To Meet Demands of Coronavirus Pandemic

The oxygen manufacturer with facilities in China, Europe and the U.S. has also implemented several measures to protect employees, including sanitizing production lines, quarantining supplies and social distancing in common areas.

caire covid responseTo meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, oxygen equipment manufacturer CAIRE Inc. has shifted into high gear, taking steps to increase production and protect its employees around the world.


The company has seen a “dramatic increase in demand” for stationary oxygen concentrators, liquid oxygen vessels and commercial generators from its worldwide provider network, CAIRE President Earl Lawson wrote in a March 24 update. CAIRE has been facing down challenges from the coronavirus since early this year, initially at its facility in Chengdu, China.


That facility resumed production in early February after a brief shutdown, but the stress on the global supply chain and the rapid spread of the pandemic continues to disrupt CAIRE’s distribution and production in Europe and the U.S. Lawson said that the entire global logistics network has been disrupted, first in China and now with widespread delays in flights, sea travel and rail networks.


“As we ramp up production to try to meet more of the demand, managing the supply chain, which is a global network, has presented a big challenge,” Lawson told HME Business in an interview. “Even more pressing is the logistics of moving components to the right spot and then finished goods to the right spot.”


In response to large increases in demand for oxygen equipment, particularly in European countries and now the U.S., CAIRE has added production shifts, extended employees’ hours and expanded production lines in its facilities in Ball Ground, Ga., Buffalo, N.Y. and Chengdu. (All non-production employees are working remotely).


Lawson said the company learned important lessons from taking intense measures to protect employees in Chengdu during the first phase of the outbreak. Now, when someone enters a CAIRE facility in China, Europe or the U.S., their temperature is taken and they immediately sanitize their hands.


In addition, the production line is cleaned multiple times during the day, and new component supplies are quarantined to guarantee that workers are not working with contaminated goods. Lawson said they are working hard to support social distancing on the manufacturing floor and in common areas.


Start times, break times and lunch times have been staggered to promote social distancing, he added. Tables were removed in the break areas to provide limited access for groups to gather. All employees are washing their hands more frequently and adding social distancing to their work practice. Gloves are also being provided to all employees who have contact with product.


“With the added congestion and limitations in the supply chain and the additional quarantine that we put on all the parts to protect the employees, it's a quite complex process right now,” Lawson told HME Business. “It’s not perfect by any stretch, but we do feel like our experiences in China gave us a sense of urgency and a game plan that we can implement and refine.”


He added that while the global scale of the pandemic is “clearly one of the most challenging and difficult situations that the industry has faced,” CAIRE employees and healthcare providers around the world are making “heroic efforts” to meet patients’ oxygen needs.


“We're asking a lot of our organization right now – we've changed almost everything related to how we operate to try to expand our capabilities and try to meet the growing need, and it's quite a challenge,” Lawson said. “We will definitely have road bumps and issues along the way, but I think everyone is committed to addressing those issues, moving forward and having an impact."

About the Author

Haley Samsel is the Associate Content Editor of HME Business and Mobility Management.

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