Truck maker turns to producing portable morgues to deal with bodies in pandemic


Normally Acela Truck Company, based in Belgrade, Montana manufactures high-mobile fire and rescue trucks—brush pumpers and the like used to fight wildfires. But the company has now been asked to do something entirely different on the manufacturing spectrum—make portable morgue trailers for the federal government as it deals with the deaths from COVID-19.

The government wants as many as 200 of the mass fatalilty portable morgue trailers in the coming months. They are called Disaster Portable Morgue Units which are mobile self-contained refrigerated trailers and shipping containers used to expand morgue and hospital mortuary capabilities.

β€œAt the request of our federal partners for expanded mortuary solutions, we re-tooled and stood up the new production line in less than three days,” explained David Ronsen, president of Acela.

To accommodate the demand for the DPMUs, Acela has halted its truck production lines and retooled its manufacturing capabilities for the next 60-90 days to produce and deliver units for federal agencies across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The DPMUs are specifically designed by Acela to address the multiple challenges of the existing, makeshift refrigerated semi-trailers that the federal agencies have been using. Each unit is outfitted with low-entry floors and ramp systems, seamless interior surfaces and customized, expandable racking systems that accommodate industry standard equipment, shore and generator power systems. They have a life expectancy of more than 20 years.

Following guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Acela has implemented an aggressive cleaning and disinfecting program within its facilities to reduce health risks and keep its employees safe.

The Montana-based manufacturer has also expanded its production to seven, 10-hour days per week and is hiring as many as 20 new skilled production staff. In addition, Acela is working with more than 30 outside vendors on the project, many of whom are air freighting in parts and supplies to meet demands.

Source: Business Wire