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Boiler Industry Navigates Unique Times

June 3, 2020
Faced with unprecedented challenges, manufacturers now are finding new ways to learn online and to reimagine their work.

By Scott Lynch
American Boiler Manufacturers Association 

It is hard to imagine a time of more uncertainty in recent history. The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted lives throughout the world, and it is assumed that the full impact of this crisis will not be known for many months, maybe years. Many families have been directly impacted by the virus. Our hearts go out to everyone afflicted with this debilitating disease and fighting for their lives. We also thank all the first responders risking their lives to save others.

As an association, the COVID-19 outbreak meant ABMA had to immediately reassess its focus and determine what was in the best interest of the association and its members.  We made an early decision to cancel our Summer Meeting, which was scheduled to take place this month, understanding that at this time, our members need to focus on their business and their recovery in the third quarter of 2020.  With that in mind, ABMA since mid-March, has shifted our attention to assisting our members to navigate these unique times, sharing timely information and resources, and ramping up our support related to COVID-19.

In the early stages of COVID-19, it was necessary to determine essential businesses that must continue to operate as the economic shutdown became a reality nationwide.  To support our members and ensure boiler manufacturing continued, ABMA drafted an essential business letter that our members shared with local and state governments on why the boiler industry is an important component of our nation’s infrastructure, and critical to the operation of local hospitals and manufacturing. We later heard directly from our members that this letter, pictured at right, had significant impact on their ability to continue with operations.

Keeping in touch, staying abreast

Throughout the outbreak, ABMA has worked diligently to stay abreast of developments and needs in the boiler industry by speaking directly with our members and completing ongoing surveys to our membership. The survey results have enabled our members to align with industry trends and remain up-to-date on the economic and operational impacts of the pandemic on our business and supply chain.

In April, we released two new episodes of our podcast, Inside the Boiler Room, with topics focused specifically on the critical role of the boiler industry in supporting vital COVID-19 response infrastructure (i.e. hospitals, power suppliers, food processors, refineries) and how our industry is adapting to this ever-evolving situation. 

Episode #17 - Navigating Uncharted Waters – Boiler Industry & COVID-19, featured Doug Wright, President & CEO of Superior Boiler and Vice-Chair of ABMA. Doug discussed how Superior Boiler reacted to the initial information on the virus and how they began to act and take proper precautions within the company to ensure the health and safety of their employees while continuing to manufacture.  

Episode #18 - Who You Gonna Call?  Rental Boilers – Critical When You Need Them, featured Larry Day, President & CEO of Nationwide Boiler on April 17th. Larry shared his insights on the world of rental boilers, which have new significance now during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, as boilers near capacity at many hospitals and food processing facilities across the U.S.

ABMA also created a Coronavirus Resource Center online that collects and presents timely information and resources, including a newly launched COVID-19 webinar series. Our partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has also offered our members key additional insights on federal legislation and implementation across  multiple federal agencies. This allows members to understand new opportunities as they arise and to learn how decisions in Washington will affect them in their communities.

We are open for business

As we speak to the leaders of the boiler industry, one message is clear: Your industry is open and ready to partner with end-users of your products.  

For the most part, boiler manufacturing has not been interrupted by this crisis and in places of temporary shutdown, facilitates are back up and running and ready to address boiler challenges that come their way. Of course, while boiler manufacturing is critical, the health and safety of our members’ employees is first and foremost on the minds of our leaders. So our member companies have put in place proper protocols and continue to evolve them to meet new developments.

There are also opportunities to be proactive during these unique times.

Full or partial shutdowns can be the perfect time to take care of delayed maintenance, upgrades, and new system installations.  For some companies experiencing volume increases, there may also be opportunities for an immediate increase in the production of steam and hot water resources.  For others, it may just be a good time to assess system performance and plan for future opportunities in the months ahead.

Whatever your needs, ABMA and its members continue to focus on educating the end-users of our products. So we are always available to answer questions, brainstorm solutions and offer the highest level of customer service, even in challenging times.

If you have not already done so, please visit ABMA’s Industry Newsfeed and subscribe to our Boiler Weekly E-Newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest boiler industry news. Visit abma.inloop.com to learn more or contact ABMA at [email protected] for additional information.  

Based in Vienna VA, the author has been President & CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association since June 2014.