By Andrew J. Olson,
Corporate Vice President of the
OEM Division, Whelen Engineering
More than 60 years of serving the public with lifesaving products designed, manufactured, and supported by American employees has not changed Whelen Engineering’s commitment to grow its business in the United States. Two Whelen plants totaling more than 783,000 square feet create the myriad parts and processes that distinguish a Whelen product. Two thousand actively-used injection molding tools manufacture the thousands of component parts needed daily. The electronics department builds all the circuit boards and electronic assemblies. Machined parts are produced in state-of-the-art automated machine shops located in Connecticut and New Hampshire.
Finishing processes include hard coating of lenses, powder coating, and metallizing. Quality control is maintained throughout the entire manufacturing and assembly process, and certified test labs on site facilitate product development and shorten lead times. This unique manufacturing initiative allows Whelen to respond to the needs of its customers, many of whom require “just in time” delivery in these challenging economic times. Walk through the Whelen plant, and you see in action the commitment of a company dedicated to strong and steady growth, strictly on American soil.
With the largest staff of design engineers in the industry, Whelen has maintained a reputation of innovation, responsiveness to customer needs, and commitment to quality. A strong partnership with OEMs on new vehicle design and product integration plus stringent control across the manufacturing floor means products built for the long haul. Support continues with sales and service departments here in the United States and around the world and extensive factory training at the Whelen facility.
The introduction of LED technology in 1996 may have caused the greatest impact on emergency lighting in recent years, although it was also quickly accepted. Solid state LED technology was suitable for the rough, day-to-day environs of emergency vehicles but it posed many challenges, even to Whelen’s team of engineers to capture the intense bright light and harness it to satisfy the infinite sizes, requirements, and applications of the LED product line.
Four years ago, Whelen brought the benefits of LED technology to the white light market, replacing quartz halogen and HID lighting products. Along with compartment lighting, aviation landing lighting, and a full line of illuminating products, this led to developing the Pioneer™ and Pioneer Plus™ Series super-LED floodlights, spotlights, and work lights. With models from the tiny Nano™ three-diode work/scene light, up to Model PCP3 20,000-lumen combination flood and spotlight, Whelen offers a wide range of models to suit the needs of its customers.
There are also mounting options and pole assemblies to support them. Using the Pioneer Pole configurator, customers design the exact Pioneer product they require, including the mounting bracket and pole necessary. This built-to-order light is assembled at the plant, shipped complete, and ready to mount to the vehicle.
“Rotating” LED Lightbar
At the 2013 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), Whelen introduced the Rota-Beam™ family of products, including the Delta RS “rotating” solid state lightbar. These individual beacons and lightbars were developed in response to the fire market’s continuing loyalty to the longer dwell time of the rotating beacon. Rota-Beam offers the sweep of the rotator but also provides all the long lasting, state-of-the-art benefits of LED lighting. There are no motors to wear out, no moving parts, and no noise.
From the original Rota-Beam invented by George Whelen more than 50 years ago, this product exemplifies the passion of a company dedicated to keeping its roots firmly in America and using the pride, talent, and ingenuity of American employees to maintain a reputation for quality and performance for more than 60 years.
ANDREW J. OLSON has been a corporate vice president of the OEM division for 20 years. He grew up with Whelen Engineering and is the son of John Olson, president. He started as child doing yard work and errands for George and Dorothy Whelen, the original owners of the company. At 16 years old, he became an official employee and worked in every part of the growing company. Rather than give up his work and travel, he commuted to college and added working as a fire and EMS volunteer. This hands-on industry involvement gave him the skills to determine areas of opportunity in the fire market and to work with Whelen’s design engineers on quick turnarounds for new products.