LEXINGTON ─ A Lexington electronics company is broadly supporting the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
DECA Manufacturing started to build a temperature monitoring system for a client, Health Care Logistics Inc. (HCL), at the end of 2019, having no idea the device would later be used for the coronavirus vaccine storage.
Cameron Haring, DECA’s owner and president, said the monitoring system ensures vaccines are held appropriately in a freezer so they will be effective when administered to people.
HCL came to DECA with its design. After a few months of collaboration between the two companies, the product was ready for the market. DECA made the hardware consisting of sensors, wire harness and printed circuit board assembly.
Haring said the idea is to place a sensor in a freezer to track the temperature change. The sensor is kept in a bottle containing a specific solution that will replicate what a vaccine experiences in the freezer. The temperature range is minus 50 to 50 degrees Celsius, or minus 58 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
The device connects to software and transmits the data to the cloud storage. Users can check the temperature of multiple freezers and refrigerators in real-time on their mobile devices. If the temperature was not within the proper range, users will receive an alarm and be able to take action.
Haring said DECA has sold a few thousand units of the monitoring system. The device is mostly used at hospitals or laboratories where vaccines or blood samples are stored.
The experience in building the system is DECA’s foray into a new industry. Haring said there would be a greater focus on proper vaccine storage in the future.
“You were supposed to store vaccines at a certain level two years ago. But not everybody bought the sensor to keep an eye on it. They just put it in their refrigerator. Set it to the right setting -- and then they assumed it was going to stay there,” he said.
“Now, I think they're going to take it more seriously. I think the industry is going to expand for temperature tracking. And we hope to be a part of that.”
Incorporated in 1976, DECA manufactures electronic cable assemblies and wire harnesses. Its products could be found in pumps, automobiles, food processing equipment and many other devices.
Haring took over the company’s ownership in 2018. He has been building the business with a focus on sales, efficient processes and great company culture. Starting with 10 people, he now has 20 employees.
However, he faced an unprecedented challenge like many other business owners last year. His general manager passed away suddenly in early 2020. And the pandemic struck his major clients in the automotive industry, which caused the loss of orders.
Haring said it was so scary at one point, he thought DECA would go out of business.
A company that it never before worked with came to the rescue in the summer. It consisted of a project making hazmat suits for health care workers in intensive care units. DECA was asked to build electronics for the full-body suits.
Haring said they made 30,000 units for that project within three months. As a small team, he had to temporarily hire another 15 workers to finish the job.
“That piece of business made the year. Without that, it would have been a terrible year,” he said.
After that roller-coaster ride last year, Haring is extremely excited about 2021, which he already feels good about. The company is receiving a higher volume of sales inquiries and closing more deals. Employees are working on new products. Besides, the existing clients have forecasted a stronger demand for the year.
Haring said from the growth of the orders, he sensed that the market is feeling more confident about buying and believes the pandemic is going to end.
And DECA, after a year of building, is poised for its next success.