10 minutes with… Lawrence J. Hughes VP/GM of AirSep - CAIRE Inc.

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Buffalo, NY, August 3, 2020 – Interview with AirSep from gasworld’s Medical Issue

Q. Thanks for taking time out with gasworld. What are we interrupting in your schedule today?
At AirSep and throughout the entire CAIRE organisation it is business as usual in what can only be described as the new ‘normal’. Activity and orders continue to stay at a heightened level due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Because of this, we continue to focus on quality, good communications with our customers, close monitoring of our supply chain, and delivering on our commitments.

Outside of our close attention to the global health crisis, we are working on a variety of exciting projects – including supplying two VPSA oxygen systems each rated at 97 tonnes per day (tpd) as part of a major enhancement and upgrade to one of the wastewater treatment plants in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department serves nearly 2.3 million residents and thousands of visitors – it is the largest water and sewer utility in the southeastern US. Incorporating AirSep technology into a major project like this is an incredible opportunity because we get to make a lasting impact on the wastewater services for all.

Q. We heard about the AirSep role in combatting COVID-19 when we caught-up in our June edition. How does this situation look now?
The initial surge of demand has levelled off slightly going into the first days of summer, but we continue to operate seven days a week to meet our customer needs. With the recent surge in the summer months, this could rise to what we saw in the spring, but only time will tell. All of the safety measures implemented in March continue today and will continue into the foreseeable future in order to protect the safety of our employees, our customers, our patients and our manufacturing facilities.

Q. Do you have any further reflections since then on the pandemic?
I think I can speak for all of CAIRE when I say there is no way we could have predicted what our lives would look like today as an organisation, or even personally. We all point to our team in Chengdu, China, and the work they did early on when the spread began, and the leadership that helped us navigate not only in China, but throughout the organisation and ultimately had a tremendous, positive impact on the team. Also, we have been able to maintain our productivity even with non-production team members working remotely.

I am seeing increased responsiveness and positive feedback from not only employees, but our distributors and customers. In many ways our various departments have connected together more frequently and globally during this time. Frequent video calls have created opportunities for our teams collaborate in a greater way and get to know each other.

Q. In June we also heard about the demand you’d experienced in Russia and Ukraine. Have any other regions come to the forefront since then?
We continue to see orders in support of oxygen equipment that will be used for global aid in Africa. South America has become a hotspot for demand for oxygen equipment with its rise in cases. Selling and shipping products into South America is challenging in many ways due to regulatory requirements but we continue to get regulatory approvals to provide additional access to our equipment. It is definitely a challenging situation, but our team that serves South America is working non-stop to help our distributors get what they need.

Q. Where’s the biggest opportunity for AirSep in the next five years?
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) definitely identified the weaknesses in gas supply and ability to mobilize oxygen delivery at a rapid pace. I foresee working with a variety of institutions to establish resources in preparation to meet future health crises. Also, I think the interest in sustainable, environmentally safe ways to disinfect and clean with ozone seems a natural course in preserving societal health.