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Business Operations

A Manufacturer Provides Lighting for Temporary Hospitals

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One Sunday, it was a text message; two weeks later, it was a product ready for shipment. That’s how fast Acuity Brands sprang into action, after realizing that the temporary hospitals opening around the country needed something very basic: good, reliable lighting.

Without exam lighting, doctors and nurses can’t see what they’re doing. And patients need to be able to read books and see their surroundings at night.

Acuity Brands, a maker of lighting products, answered all these different needs with one ingenious design. Its portable healthcare light stand, which meets all lighting requirements set out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Health and Human Services for alternate care sites, includes:

  • A medical exam light
  • A reading light for patients
  • A night light for nurses
  • Outlets for charging patients’ smartphones or tablets
  • An IV hanger bar that eliminates the need for a separate IV pole

How it works: All of these come together in one package, which can be assembled in under five minutes and folded up for storage or redeployment in a new hotspot.

How they made it: CEO Neil Ashe encouraged employees to “think outside the box” about how the company could aid the COVID-19 response effort, says Mike Montgomery, Vice President of Applied IOT Solution Sales. Here’s what happened next:

  • One Sunday afternoon, three engineers exchanged ideas by text message and began sending sketches around for a possible prototype.
  • On Monday morning, the design went to the shop for construction.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, a working prototype was completed.
  • By Wednesday, they’d built a full working unit.
  • Less than two weeks later, Acuity Brands had shipped the first 30 units to an alternate care site in Michigan—and two weeks after that, it sent an additional 1000 working units to other sites across the country.

Acuity Brands squeezed a development process that usually takes up to a year into two weeks—and its leaders are using what they learned to streamline the usual processes, making them faster and stronger for normal times.

So far, the stands are already being used in temporary hospitals in Michigan, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. The company also has pending orders for shipments to Mexico and South America—plus 1,000 additional units in inventory ready to ship.

It wasn’t quite the speed of light, but this lighting stand moved pretty darn fast. Manufacturers like Acuity Brands are making the response to COVID-19 faster, safer, more comfortable—and better lit.

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