A. O. Smith's Expertise Allows Commercial Customization
Project: Custom/Specialty Products Manufacturing Division
Location: Renton, Washington
Product: Custom Water Heaters
Installation: Clients Throughout The World
Sometimes standard sizes just don’t fit correctly. Think of dressing room dismay when a size medium won’t work but the large size hangs like drapery, or cramming feet in shoe after shoe trying to find a comfortable compromise. When standard water heaters and storage tanks won’t do the job, A. O. Smith turns to the experts at its plant in Renton, Washington, a suburb in the Greater Seattle area.
Primarily known as the home of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Renton’s industries draw from a diverse workforce. The Seattle area is the mecca for medical research and genetics, possesses a strong technology presence in Microsoft, and serves as a hub for the manufacture and repair of ocean-going ships. Renton is also the home of another heavyweight, A. O. Smith Water Product Company’s Custom/Specialty Products Manufacturing Division.
“Having a variety of professional and technical trades to pull from provides a breadth of knowledge and experience that allows us to better ‘think out of the box’ to solve complex issues for our customers,” said Jim Skjelstad, the Renton plant manager.
When standard sizes or tandem units aren’t feasible for the job, businesses and large institutions are increasingly turning to custom-built units to meet their water heating needs. That’s where Renton’s specialized team comes in–producing customized larger, heavy-duty water heaters and storage tanks for those customers who have greater demands for hot water. Major customers include organizations such as hotels, restaurants, schools, prisons and hospitals.
Once clients contact the Custom/Specialty Products Manufacturing Division with details of their hot water needs, the team at Renton begins the design process. “Using the trade knowledge and technical expertise of our team, we can assist the customer in providing the best fit for their application, said Skjelstad. “Once we have a clear understanding of our customers’ needs, we work to provide them with a trouble-free unit for their hot water needs.”
Typically, the Renton team works on custom units for their clients. For instance, a company may require several units to be designed and built that consist of two 1,000-gallon tanks with dual energy sources, such as electric and gas or electric and steam, and have 3,000-gallon per hour recovery. This kind of order may take up to three or four weeks to complete and ship. But, there are requests for projects with dimensions far beyond this scale that take months in planning and production.
A. O. Smith received a request in December 2006 for the largest project in the Custom/Specialty Products Manufacturing Division’s history: an order for sixty custom water heater units. These units ranged from 120 gallons to 4,000 gallons. For some of us, it’s difficult to envision a single tank with a diameter of seven feet standing over twenty feet tall. But, the Renton team conceived and produced all the units within six months.
It is the attitude of the Renton custom team that provides its competitive edge: a belief that any concept can be made reality.
One Size Does Not Fit All (PDF)