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From AirBeam® shelter technology that enables inflation in minutes to all the various shelter components, HDT leads the market – and will further its position with a new expansion in Huntsville. Lorie Greenspan reports.
“Survival of the fittest” takes on new meaning for those sheltered in a structure designed and built by HDT Global.
Are you in the desert? The North Pole? Under constant threat of weather elements – or manmade attack? Have no fear – HDT Global has built the systems on which military personnel have come to rely for their very survival.
Based in Ohio, HDT Global (HDT) is a leading provider of highly engineered, application- specific solutions for military, civilian, commercial and industrial customers. Recently, the company announced that it plans to transition its manufacturing operations based in Buena Vista, Va., to a new facility adjacent to its current Huntsville, Ala., plant.
The HDT Buena Vista facility has provided state-of-the-art, expeditionary shelter systems for many years. In its new location, HDT will build upon its foundation with “value-stream aligned manufacturing methodologies.”
“The new facility offers increased production capacity, while decreasing overhead costs and streamlining related production processes into one geographic area, strategically located in Huntsville,” said Michael Kinney, vice president of operations, at the time of the announcement.
President and CEO Sean Bond added, “The decision to move our shelter manufacturing facility was thoughtfully made. Ultimately, this transition is best for the benefit of the warfighter and the benefit of our organization. The impact will be increased competitiveness and value in our operations, and the opportunity for HDT to grow in a highly competitive global market. We expect HDT Huntsville to become the premier military production facility across all of Northern Alabama.”
The project will add 206,500 square feet of manufacturing space to HDT’s existing Huntsville capacity, and adds to the company’s network of facilities in Ohio, Virginia and Alabama.
A $200+ million company with over 500 employees, HDT Global has become a trusted supplier working with all branches of the U.S. military and global allies; as well as the world’s leading commercial expeditionary and heavy industrial manufacturing companies in deepshaft mining, paper and pulp manufacturing, and steelmaking. In addition to expeditionary and industrial manufacturing market sector solutions, HDT also develops robotic solutions for use in the healthcare market.
“We fabricate shelters for the military via proprietary processes that are utilized to make structural fabric supported with compressed air,” Kinney said, speaking of the company’s AirBeam® shelter products that are “very strong. One beam alone can lift an auto.” The air beam, which takes the place of a traditional structural beam, holds fabric around it.
In addition, “these shelters can go anywhere on planet earth,” he notes. “We have shelters on the North Pole – these can operate in -60 or +140 degrees.”
“You literally shoot compressed air into it and the structure stands in minutes,” Kinney said, adding that the company also manufactures a trailer system that carries and transports the AirBeam shelter system.
HDT’s AirBeam and Base-X® shelter product lines garner the biggest support among the military personnel, and are sold to top military suppliers such as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. While HDT also manufactures traditional frame products and fiberglass systems, these product lines have withstood the test of volatile environments.
Control and Support
If you were a troop in a dangerous part of the world, or on expedition, or in the North Pole or the desert of Arabia, would you want a regular fabric tent that is the equivalent of what you might pitch in the backyard … or something with more engineering muscle behind it?
Of course, you would want the latter and there are plenty of benefits related to HDT’s patented high-pressure AirBeam technology. Key advantages include strength and durability, rapid deployment, and minimal manpower requirements. A small logistics chain and parts count also contribute to a low lifecycle cost for each unit.
Not convinced? Consider: The durability of these shelters has been demonstrated in more than 50 consecutive AirBeam shelter erection-strike cycles without incident.
These shelters are available in three 21-foot length and four 32-foot length, featuring 20-foot clear span air beam supports. AirBeam shelters also offer an abrasion-resistant, water repellent and ultraviolet (UV) resistant cover assembly with integral floor, an integrated inflation system, external bracing, and stakes.
Standard features of the AirBeam shelter include environmental control unit (ECU) duct openings, a removable lightweight thermal liner with an air distribution plenum, and integrated hanging straps for lights and other accessories. Several window and door configurations are available, including end panel and side panel personnel doors, cargo doors, vehicle boot kits, TRICON/ISO container boot kits, and litter airlock interfaces.
With the addition of an optional “complexing kit,” AirBeam shelters can be integrated together; end-to-end, side-to-side or side-to-end.
To erect the air beam, the shelter is laid out and staked to the ground at just four anchor positions. The air beams are then inflated simultaneously using a commercial air compressor. Two to three people can deploy the shelter in less than fifteen minutes. Needless to say, the ease of use, rapid deployment, and strike-time capabilities meet or exceed all U.S. military requirements for a general-purpose field tent. Additionally, the U.S. Army has selected the HDT AirBeam Shelter (Air Supported TEMPER Types) for Force Provider, its premier base camp.
Another popular model within HDT’s portfolio is the HDT Base-X Model 305 Shelter, which houses six to eight people or can be used as an briefing area, sleep tent, or private office in larger complexes. It features six entry/exit points, an electrical outlet every five feet, an integral liner with floor and HVAC plenum, easy field maintenance, energy efficiency and superior strength and durability.
The company also offers the DRASH® M Series shelters, with an interior width of 18 feet that can be lengthened to increase an operating area by removing the shelters’ end sections and adding additional center sections. M Series shelters come in three basic models in varying lengths with the option of a maintenance door allowing smaller UAVs or vehicles access into the shelter for maintenance or storage purposes.
Back to Base Camp
In addition to extreme shelter systems, HDT also offers integrated basecamp solutions. Highly engineered and designed for rapid set-up and strike, while taking into consideration all facets of troop comfort in expeditionary environments, these systems make HDT the only supplier that designs and manufactures all of the components required to build a complete solution. Flexibility and customization, transportability, reliability in harsh environments and energy efficiency are the hallmark of this technology.
HDT manufactures superior shelter systems through a staff of in-house, advanced materials experts with knowledge and skill related to:
- fabric bonding;
- fabric lamination;
- fabric coating;
- material composition;
- fire retardancy;
- tensile strength;
- dynamic load resistance.
The company’s fabric shelters, emergency management units and mobile medical units, are also resistant to chemical or biological attack. “We are the go-to company for extreme applications and extreme solutions,” Kinney says. In addition, HDT supplies all the shelters’ components. “Our equipment is incredibly rugged, built to withstand the demanding environments in which they are operated and the manner in which they are deployed. Often times, our products are air dropped to remote locations and undergo harsh handling in hostile conditions. . We sell every part of the system – table, chairs, shower, air conditioner units and generators – the whole thing.”
Kinney adds, “Ask any soldier what we’re known for – we are the guys that make the infrastructure from which they operate…eat, sleep, work. They know us for mobile expeditionary solutions for shelters, power, heating, cooling and filtration” that can survive extremes. We provide their home away from home. And when your work takes you to the harshest places on the planet, it’s good to know that HDT has your back.