Family business increases social responsibility in times of crisis
Allendorf (Eder), 20.04.2020 – In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Viessmann Group is expanding its social responsibility. In a converted part of its production facilities, the family-owned company now also manufactures – in addition to its leading climate and energy solutions – ventilators, mobile care units, face masks and disinfectant.
Max Viessmann, Viessmann Co-Chief Executive Officer: "Fighting the current pandemic requires cohesion, team spirit and creativity to make the best out of the current challenging situation. I experience these qualities every day with around 12,300 members of the large Viessmann family. I am extremely proud of this. It goes without saying, that we are aware of our social responsibility in times of crisis and that we are now strengthening it once again. After all, the whole thing will only end when it ends for everyone – worldwide. The way we deal with the Corona crisis today, will determine how we remember this time in the future – hopefully with pride and the awareness of having achieved a new dimension of solidarity.
Dr. Markus Klausner, Chief Technology Officer Viessmann Climate Solutions: "All ideas come from our own teams. I am incredibly impressed by the creativity of our team. There is a great deal of engineering skill, attention to detail and high reliability behind all our solutions. Because these are integral parts of our more than 100-year-old Viessmann DNA. Disinfectant and face masks have already been handed over to the district. The development of the ventilators is carried out in close cooperation with doctors from the Luisenhospital, the academic teaching hospital of the medical faculty of the RWTH Aachen University, and Professor Dr. Dirk Müller from the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University, as well as other hospitals. On a regional level, the district hospital in Frankenberg (Eder) in particular provided a great deal of support. The Luisenhospital has already given a positive assessment of the suitability of the equipment. With the support of the Federal Ministry of Health, we are working together with the Federal Office for Drugs and Medical Technology to obtain the special approval that has now been launched. All of them are pulling together here and showing highly dynamic commitment so that mass production can be implemented as quickly as possible. Once the special approval has been granted, a production of over 600 units per day would be feasible".
One of the production lines for wall-mounted gas appliances, at the company's headquarters in Allendorf (Eder), North Hesse, was converted within a few days to manufacture the aforementioned products. The fact that it was even possible to develop a simplified ventilator in such a short time is due to the design of these wall-mounted gas devices. On the one hand, many components of the wall-mounted gas devices, such as the electronic gas and air connection, could be adapted for the ventilator. On the other hand, Viessmann has an extremely flexible production facility, which could be adjusted to the new requirements in a very short time.
The engineers of the family business are in close contact with various anaesthetists and intensive care physicians who have accompanied the development. Furthermore, they are actively supported by Prof. Dr Müller from E.ON Energy Research Center at the RWTH University. The ventilators enable an individual adjustment of the relevant pressure levels as well as the breathing rate and allow a variable admixture of oxygen. The compact ventilators are mobile and do not necessarily depend on the technical infrastructure of a hospital, because they can be operated either via the hospital's oxygen supply, as well as a solution with a connected oxygen cylinder. Many countries currently have a great shortage of ventilators. Viessmann is already in contact with selected authorities there to investigate possible local use. All efforts are currently underway to obtain quick special approval for the use of the ventilators in Germany.
From now on, Viessmann Technologies, a member of the group of companies, will also offer modular care units, which could also make a fundamental contribution to the care of seriously ill COVID-19 patients. Thanks to the prefabricated and modular design, the units can be installed quickly and are available in module sizes for one or two patients. These portable care units can be set up indoors, for example in exhibition halls or sports arenas, but – with an appropriate cover – also outdoors.
Traditionally, Viessmann attaches great importance to the training of young people. As a result, they also demonstrate a high level of social responsibility in supporting the fight against the pandemic. At the Viessmann Group's technical training centre in Allendorf (Eder), a production line for manufacturing high-quality face masks was set up largely under the young colleagues' own initiative. These masks have already been handed over to the Waldeck-Frankenberg district. From next week, the company, in close cooperation with neighbouring companies and the district, plans to produce up to 10,000 masks per week.
Every year, employees of the Viessmann Group submit around 150,000 ideas and suggestions for improvement – a top figure per employee in Germany. Currently, many ideas are directly related to the corona crisis. For example, at the suggestion of the employees, the production of our own disinfectant was implemented. Following an appeal by Viessmann, more than 250 partners have recently declared they are willing to join forces to show solidarity in the media and overcome the crisis together.
Another result from an employee idea is the manufacturing of so-called "personal door openers", which are produced on the 3D printers in the Viessmann prototype manufacturing facility. By using this simple but effective tool, no one needs to touch a door handle with their hands any more.
In addition, initial quantities of the in-house disinfectant have been made available to the district.