As the leading manufacturer of portable evaporative coolers, Portacool, LLC designs products to keep employees, hobbyists and consumers around the world not only comfortably cool, but ultimately safe. Extreme heat is an increasingly prevalent problem that can slow down reaction times and create an unsafe environment. With record summer temperatures, heat-generating machinery and hard-to-cool spaces, counteracting this heat can prove to be especially difficult. Portacool takes this responsibility of keeping people cool very seriously, and that commitment starts right at home in their Center, Texas, plant. Located in East Texas, Portacool employees are no stranger to extreme heat and none are more well-acquainted than those working in the Plastics Division.
The Plastics Division is where the Portacool production line begins and, in a word, it’s HOT. The open 270,000-square-foot metal building has five large ovens that reach up to 650°F to provide heat to the roto-molding machines. What this means is the building remains consistently hot – temperatures can often approach 130°F. The technicality and physicality of the roto-molding process, as well as the tools necessary to accomplish it, can make it truly challenging to keep the more than 60 employees working in this part of the plant cool. Machine operators oversee creation of the housing molds for each Portacool product. From there, the housings are supplied to finishers who use blow torches to smooth edges before sending them to assembly to be fitted with internal parts.
While Portacool uses traditional safety measures – like general safety training, scheduled breaks and water/electrolyte drinks located near work stations – one of the most effective resources they utilize is their own portable evaporative coolers. Thirty-seven Portacool evaporative coolers ranging from smaller models to larger Hurricane and Jetstream models are scattered throughout the Plastics Division to achieve optimal cooling where needed. For example, the finishers who touch up and clean up imperfections on the plastic housings use smaller products for personal cooling, whereas the small groups of machine operators that work on the hot roto-mold platforms share a larger product. These coolers make all the difference in keeping employees comfortable while they work.
“Frankly, it becomes unbearable to work in here without our evaporative coolers at nearly every work station,” says James Miles, Plastics Manager. “We’ve worked really hard to make sure our employees stay comfortable and safe during their time spent in the plant.”
Miles has made it a priority to make frequent rounds through the Plastics Division to check on employees and experience the work environment firsthand. He and the Portacool leadership team consider feedback from employees to be very important since they are the ones getting up close and personal with the type of heat that Portacool coolers strive to combat. Most say that they couldn’t make it without their evaporative coolers, and some even consider them a necessary tool to get the job done correctly and efficiently. Ultimately, their safety and the safety of others facing similar situations around the world is why Portacool does what it does.