Manufacture of hand sanitizer stands keeps NAVAIR escalators moving

Manufacture of hand sanitizer stands keeps NAVAIR escalators moving

The white metal stands, manufactured by the Aircraft Prototype Systems Division to hold hand sanitizer, stand at the top and bottom of the escalators in the atrium of NAVAIR Headquarters, Building #2272.

When the high demand for hand sanitizer stations resulted in an inability to obtain them commercially, facilities personnel at NAVAIR Headquarters needed only to look within NAS Patuxent River’s fenceline to find the solution.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, per NAVFAC regulation and for safety reasons, hand sanitizer stations had to be on hand near the escalators in the atrium of NAVAIR headquarters, the Rear Adm. William Moffett Building, #2272. If sanitizer wasn’t available, the busy escalators would’ve had to be shut down.

“The handrail has to be held onto [when using the escalator] which made it necessary for the sanitizer stations to be readily available as soon as one exits, both up and down,” said Deputy Facility Manager Ricky Russell. “We’d been trying to order them but weren’t able to get them.”

Enter the Aircraft Prototype Systems Division (APSD), who was asked if they could design and manufacture four stands in their facility aboard the installation.

“We in the APSD Production Branch have a machine shop, a wire shop and a sheet metal shop,” said Wes McReynolds, the facility’s branch head. “We do all type of aircraft prototyping throughout the base; so we have that capability.”

McReynolds turned the task over to three of the shop’s artisans: James Sparks, John Trinidad and Dave Dresher who, armed with only a sample of the hand sanitizer package, quickly got to work creating a functional design.

“The sanitizer package is automatic, which means you just swipe your hand below it to dispense sanitizer,” McReynolds explained. “With quite a few D-cell batteries in it, it had a little weight to it and that meant the stand’s base had to be heavy enough so it wouldn’t tip over. It also meant [the fabricators] had to take into consideration a generalized height requirement for people to comfortably pass their hand under it.”

The stand the trio designed is made of aluminum and comprises three pieces: the base, which was cut out on a router; the faceplate, which holds and allows access to the sanitizer package and was cut out on the facility’s water jet; and the tube — bent at a certain radius — that connects both of those pieces.

“Once all three pieces were cut out and bent, they had to be welded together,” McReynolds noted. “After the stands were manufactured, they prepped them by sanding them and getting them ready for the paint booth where they were first primed. Once that dried, they were painted white.”

From the time McReynolds turned over the information to his artisans, it took them only 5 hours to come up with a design, cut out the pieces, weld, and fabricate the four stands.

“It took another day for our painter to prime and paint, drying time included,” he added.

The stands are now in place, the escalators are operating, and NAVAIR is pleased with the results.

“It was very quick turnaround and top notch work,” Russell said. “The guys at APSD were easy to work with and it’s very reassuring to have such talented and capable workers righter here on station willing to pitch in and do their part to help keep personnel safe.”

In fact, NAVAIR liked the stands so much, another order has been placed to manufacture 40 more for use in other NAVAIR buildings throughout the air station; but it’s no problem for APSD.

“We have to order some materials for them, but then we estimate we can get 10 stands out in three days,” McReynolds said. “With the environment we’re in right now, we’re more than willing to help out. It’s a good thing to help our fellow Pax River workforce, when needed.”