Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.
    • Protect the environment. Think before you print.

Zurich Risk Engineers act fast for customers serving COVID-19 needs

May 21, 2020

What do a toilet paper factory, vacant hospital and idle prison have in common? They’re ready to serve in COVID-19 response, with help of Zurich Risk Engineers.

Barbara Woods 1 1000x500

“As soon as possible” has taken on even greater urgency in the era of COVID-19. Zurich Risk Engineers have delivered quickly for customers who needed assistance optimizing assets to help during the quarantine and shutdown, whether by producing essentials for everyday living at home, or by providing additional hospital capacity to care for patients. Here are three examples.

Maximizing production of toilet paper

At the peak of the toilet paper shortage, a paper mill customer of Zurich’s had a state-mandated inspection coming due. The inspection would require shutting down a boiler for two to three weeks, reducing the mill’s output of toilet paper by an estimated 35%.

PG Paper Machine toilet paper secondary photo 450x320

The customer approached Zurich Machinery Breakdown Risk Engineer Jon Wolf to see if he could intercede on their behalf with the state. Wolf agreed to do his part. He knew it was no small disruption to have a boiler out of commission.

“Most people do not realize the large amount of energy it takes to make toilet paper,” Wolf said. “The paper mill uses multistory high-pressure boilers to make the super-heated steam that’s needed. These 10-story boilers have elevators to get to different levels. It takes over a week to cool the boiler down when turned off. It takes another week to open and clean, and finally takes another week to get the boiler up to operating temperature.”

Wolf reviewed the boiler’s maintenance history and provided supplemental information to the state to provide grounds for an extension. The extension was approved.

“I’m proud we were able to help our customer continue producing a commodity in extremely high demand,” Wolf said. “Zurich Risk Engineering gives our customers 100%, so our customers can give 100% too.”

Activating a vacant hospital in a hard-hit area

One of Zurich’s healthcare customers had completed construction of a brand new hospital in New Jersey, leaving their older property nearby vacant. Most of the older hospital’s mechanical equipment had been shut down.

Then COVID-19 cases began to climb rapidly in the New York-New Jersey area. The state and the customer wanted to reactivate the ER portion of the vacant property to handle non-COVID-19 patient overflow.

Zurich Machinery Breakdown Risk Engineer Barbara Woods answered the urgent call from a contractor on the old hospital site. Could she come to check the environmental systems to ensure they would operate reliably and safely? From her Pennsylvania base, she got in her car and traveled to the site the same day, inspecting several boilers and other pressurized equipment critical to the hospital operations.

During the inspection, Woods identified leaks on the high-pressure steam boiler and a flue gas leak on one of the hot water heating boilers, which were subsequently repaired. She also inspected the chiller units to ensure they were equipped with proper safety devices and were in sound operating condition.

Her knowledge and quick work enabled the customer to reopen the facility and begin accepting overflow patients in an area hard-hit by COVID-19.

“It felt great to collaborate with the contractor and the customer,” Woods said. “Together, we got the vacant hospital building back up and running for patients needing care.”

Preparing an idle prison for patient overflow

A 500-bed private prison facility in the Midwest sat vacant for several years. As the threat of a local COVID-19 outbreak rose, state officials and others prepared to reopen the prison, if needed, to function as an alternative care site hospital.

Zurich Machinery Breakdown Risk Engineer Jeremy Noyes was contacted to evaluate and recertify boilers to ensure the equipment was safe and to reactivate the state certificates of operation.

Noyes completed his inspection within 24 hours, notifying the facilities director that the system was sound and the location could contribute to the humanitarian response.

“To me, I was just doing my job,” Noyes said. “But I’m proud we were able to ensure safety while acting quickly in a critical time of need.”