Case Studies

AirClean Systems Inc.

Providing innovative ductless fume hoods for schools and laboratories

Incorporated in 1992, AirClean Systems Inc. (ACS) is a Creedmoor, N.C.-based manufacturer of ductless hoods, workstations and enclosures. Greg Dobbyn founded the business more than 20 years ago with the goal of building innovative safety equipment and solutions. The company has grown significantly since inception due to demand and technological advances in the product line. Kevin McGough, current president, now proudly leads the business, overseeing a team of approximately 150 development, design and production professionals in ACS’ Creedmoor location.

AirClean Systems Inc.“Our target, when we first started, was hospitals,” McGough explains. “At the time they were using a high level disinfectant called glutaraldehyde to disinfect scopes and blades for surgeries and exploratory procedures. Glutaraldehyde is commonly used for high level disinfection, but there was no easy way to contain the fumes. Over time, people can develop serious health problems from exposure to the fumes. We started building ductless hoods to protect hospital staff from this specific type of high level disinfectant. To this day, we continue to provide hospitals around the globe with a variety of different containment solutions.”

As the popularity of ductless fume hoods started to grow, ACS began attracting a wider range of clients with a variety of different applications and the team was able to expand its product line to keep up with the demand.

“We suddenly started getting interest from people who didn’t have access to traditional fume hoods or couldn’t put in the duct work,” McGough says. “It was either too expensive to install or impossible to up-fit their area. From there, our business has grown significantly. A lot of that comes with credibility, placement and customer necessity.”

Providing value

McGough and his team work with clients to make sure the product is a reasonable fit for each given application. “Not every application is fit for a ductless hood,” he explains. “For example, with trace metal analysis, you may be boiling and evaporating off high volumes of acids. In this specific case, a ductless system might not be the most economically viable solution, as you would likely be changing the filter every week. However, most of the applications we get asked about aren’t this extreme.”

McGough goes on to explain, that from an economic and safety standpoint, sometimes the team does have to say no. “After the application review, if one of our chemists determines the filters won’t last at least 12 months it usually doesn’t make sense to recommend a ductless system,” he continues. “However, some of our clients don’t have the option or budget to put in a total exhaust system, so we tell them up front what to expect.”

ACS is attracting new clients and markets by presenting ductless solutions to universities, research institutions and architectural firms. McGough’s team performs an analysis of what the energy consumption would be for a traditional 6-foot hood, taking into account the kilowatt per hour cost of energy in that region.

“We can give a close estimate of what it would cost to run that hood per year,” he elaborates. “Based upon their location, we compare the energy cost of a traditional fume hood against the cost of running and maintaining one of our ductless hoods. We recently did a comparison for the University of Florida. The three-year cost to run a traditional total exhaust fume hood would have been $14,800, based on the local KW/hourly cost. In comparison, the same size ACS ductless solution costs $3,390 to run during that same time frame. The cost to run our ductless hood included the true energy cost and the appropriate filter changes needed during that time frame. Our customers will continue to see savings, beyond installation costs, throughout years of use.”

Recent work

Over the years, the company’s market has grown to include hospitals, universities, grade schools and laboratories. Currently, ACS is completing a job at home in North Carolina for a local community college.

“The college purchased 27 of our independence ductless hoods,” McGough notes. “They are renovating a chemistry lab on campus and don’t have a lot of real estate to displace classrooms. We placed six of our independence ductless hoods in an unused business building, so the school could still hold classes in the space while doing the renovation. Now that they are finishing the chemistry lab, we will move the first six hoods over and install them along with the other 21.”

ACS has a growing market in forensics work and K-12 schools. “High schools are big for us right now,” McGough explains. “A school can purchase a single ductless hood to share amongst classes. You can put it on a cart and move it around. The plastic is clear all the way around, so the students can view the experiment that is being performed by the teacher.”

McGough says interest is popping up in new sectors all the time, but he is hesitant to pinpoint any new growing markets. There are a lot of oddball applications. Diversity has been a huge factor in the company’s growth, especially throughout more difficult economic times. The team also preserves value by manufacturing everything in-house. In the coming years, McGough and his team predict sustained growth in several directions. AirClean Systems Inc. offers innovative products and leading service; factors that help define the market for innovative protection solutions.

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