Tempco and COVID-19
April 8, 2020
When I first started working at Tempco over 16 years ago, I remember being in awe at the striking number of industries that Tempco services with products and expertise. As I learned about our product lines, many that were initially designed with specific applications in mind, and the numerous manufacturing processes required, I recall thinking that there is more to manufacturing than I ever dreamed. I still find myself in awe about the things that are accomplished in our custom manufacturing facilities.
When people ask me what Tempco does, I say "We manufacture electric heating elements, temperature control products, temperature sensors and process heating systems for industrial processes." Most people nod their heads and reply "Oh, ok," and leave it at that. Most recently I was asked by a friend who seemed surprised by Tempco's status, "How is your company essential? Why would they stay open?" And I thought about the phrases in the media regarding the COVID-19 pandemic like "shelter in place", "social distancing" and "essential business" and how Tempco is dealing with all of it before I answered her.
Tempco is essential to a multitude of industries that are deemed essential during this time.
First and foremost, we are a major supplier for several processes within the medical devices and medical supply industry. Cartridge heaters are used in ventilators and X-ray processing equipment. Our silicone rubber heaters are used by a medical testing facility to manufacture COVID-19 test kits. We design and manufacture cast-in heaters that are a part of the manufacturing process for producing medical-grade masks. And we designed a skid duct heater system for processing medical device coatings. Our band heaters and cast-in heaters are used on the plastic extruders that make medical grade plastic tubing, as well as many of the single use items used throughout the medical industry. They are also used in chemical distillation applications that are often related to the medical industry.
In the food service industry, our cast-in and tubular heaters are used as warming plates, our silicone rubber heaters are formed around food dispensers and our infrared heaters are used during curing or baking processes. Items, whether food items or anything else purchased in a plastic package, use an electric heater in the sealing process.
Several modes of transportation rely on our heaters in their processes. Our silicone rubber heaters are used to refurbish airplane propellers and our process heaters and cartridge heaters are utilized by the automotive industry.
Additive manufacturing, especially the 3D printer industry, uses our mineral-insulated coil heaters, cartridge heaters and silicone rubber heaters. 3D printers are used in a variety of industries to quickly create a working sample of a design prior to full scale manufacturing. And today we are seeing them used as an emergency source for manufacturing items such as face shields and reusable N95 masks. Smaller items, like components of the nasal swabs being used for COVID-19 test kits, can be mass produced using 3D printers as well.
In the energy sector our mineral-insulated cable heaters have been used in the design stage of nuclear fuel rods and our cast-in heaters and cartridge heaters have been used in the petroleum industry. Several of our electric heating elements have been used in wind power as equipment moisture inhibitors and load resistors.
Perhaps the most sobering application I came across while writing and researching for this post is that our band heaters are utilized by a customer in the death care industry that makes funeral items...
These applications are just the tip of the iceberg as there are so many that I haven't even mentioned. We are a self-contained manufacturer with a foundry, a machine shop, a sheet metal department, a welding and brazing department and an electrical panel department. And our engineering design team is leading the way. This allows us to maintain the high standards required for quality control, reliability and long product life expectancy. It also allows us to minimize our reliance on outside services and goods.
All of that was the long way of saying, these are the reasons why it would be very difficult to label anything within our facilities as non-essential. Therefore, both of our manufacturing plants and adjacent offices that are located in Wood Dale, IL will remain open and fully operational. Tempco is taking safety precautions in an effort to protect our employees from spreading or getting COVID-19. And we support companies taking the same precautions and making the same choices to remain open during this pandemic.