The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the links in the supply chain that support health care companies focused on finding a cure.
One of those links is Julabo USA, a German-based temperature control device manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
The company is among those businesses that’s staying open because it is helping to equip pharmaceutical companies that are working on vaccines, research, and drug therapies to directly combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julabo makes temperature control devices for everything from food production and cosmetics to material testing processes for NASA.
The company’s devices can also help biotech or pharmaceutical companies control the temperature of their reactors, which is required for making COVID-19 vaccines, said Dirk Frese, vice president of sales and marketing at Julabo.
The company recently sold one of its most powerful units for a company that is working on a vaccine, Frese said.
In addition, about 25 to 50 of Julabo’s clients are working intensively on some type of vaccine, research or drug therapy related to COVID-19, he said.
With Gov. Wolf’s recent closure announcement for all non-life-sustaining businesses, Frese said he was grateful Julabo was able to stay open. Many businesses, including those that supply health care institutions including hospitals, are part of a complex supply chain.
“You have to think about how those businesses are supplied,” Frese said. “If you disrupt one cell out of this, everything can fail.
He said Julabo received at least five written statements from clients stating the need for its products and services. Three of those clients are working on vaccines for COVID-19 and others are working on therapies and drugs to fight the virus.
At Julabo’s two buildings in Hanover Township, the company has 14 people working out of its staff of 43.
“This is hugely impactful for them,” Frese said. “We are really coming together in spite of social distancing. There is a lot of uncertainty out there, but there’s a lot of good activity.”
Those employees not in manufacturing or shipping are working remotely, except Frese, who said he is going into work to support those employees.
In addition, Julabo launched a tool last year that combines augmented reality smart glasses with a software platform. Together, they allow Julabo’s service technicians to remotely detect and diagnose problems with equipment or products so technicians on-site can make repairs more quickly, a development that’s helpful in the age of social distancing.
The company also increased its communication efforts in the wake of COVID-19.
“We are fortunate that those employees now working remotely have access to all the programs they need,” said Tricia Bowman, marketing communications project manager at Julabo.
The company had implemented a monthly newsletter but now puts out a newsletter twice a week, she said. In addition, the company recently had a video conference using Microsoft Teams software.
Julabo gave out an employee survey recently, and so far, the results show the employees working remotely feel very connected, she said.
The company also ramped up its social media postings.
“We want our customers to know that not only are we open, but that we are able to help,” Bowman said.