Sunbelt Rentals Solution Gets Major Auto Manufacturer Back to Work During COVID-19 Crisis


Nearly every business in the United States has been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic in one form or another. Some are completely closed during shelter-in-place orders and some are finding innovative new ways to keep their doors open while ensuring the safety and health of their employees. Sunbelt Rentals has always delivered exceptional work for a multitude of industries and it was its reputation within the auto-manufacturing industry that brought Sunbelt Rentals onto the frontlines of helping America get back to work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers reached out to Sunbelt Rentals to develop an action plan to get its core employees back to work. The manufacturer knew that it needed to provide never-before-used protocol and screening measures to ensure everyone’s safety. That’s why the manufacturer called on the team at Sunbelt Rentals, whose unparalleled project turnaround, work ethic and dependability made it the number one choice.

This major auto manufacturer had partnered with Sunbelt Rentals in the past so it knew what Sunbelt Rentals is made of. With multiple plants located throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico, it was up to the company’s leaders and Sunbelt Rentals to construct a process for thousands of employees to enter work every day that would also mitigate the Coronavirus health risk.

The Challenge

As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, the client had temporarily suspended production at 95 percent of its facilities. Three of the manufacturer’s plants began instead producing ventilators and face shields to support the needs of the US medical centers. When the time drew closer to bringing automobile production back online and asking thousands of employees to return to work, the manufacturer decided that the use of thermal imaging cameras to detect elevated body temperatures, combined with secondary health screening protocols would be the best method to ensure the health and safety of its returning workforce. The idea was to stop the possible introduction of the virus before it got into the facilities, so a temporary screening structure was needed outside the plant’s entry gates. 

Thermal screening cameras require a temperature/humidity-controlled environment to deliver the most accurate results, so the solution had to incorporate protective structures with HVAC systems. These structures also needed to be designed in a way that would allow thousands of employees to pass through in an efficient manner to reduce wait times. The entire solution had to be installed and operational at a dozen plants in four different states within five weeks. With years of experience, massive inventory and passion for providing project-specific solutions, Sunbelt Rentals USA was uniquely qualified to deliver for this client.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, much of the planning process between Sunbelt Rentals and the client had to be conducted by phone and tele-conference.  While not a complete break from the planning sessions of other projects, the vision and scope of the project as well as the proposed solution was more challenging to process than it would have been with face-to-face meetings.

The client’s structure needed:

2colum-large1 2colum-large2

Internal environmental controls

Rapid mobilization and installation

Expert Project Management

Inventory available for immediate installation

Structure size options to fit location requirements

Structure meets wind and snow hazard ratings


Single-source provider


Professional installation supervision

The Solution 


Two engineered-aluminum frame structures (1,000 sq. ft. and 1600 sq. ft.) were designed to include HVAC, insulated side walls, flooring and LED lighting throughout. Specific health and safety accessories such as handsfree entry/exit doors to reduce physical contact with surfaces, stanchions and floor decals to facilitate social distancing for those waiting in line, and individual test zones were included to support the primary function of the clear span structures as thermal-screening checkpoints prior to entering the plants. 


Sunbelt Rentals' solution included the following features:

  • 1000 sq. ft. structure
  • 1600 sq. ft. structure
  • HVAC systems
  • Flooring and LED lighting
  • Contactless exit/entry doors
  • Social distancing guidance features


The result

automaker-Picture1The auto manufacturer had a list of structure “must-haves” and an open mind as to how Sunbelt Rentals would provide them. While relying on Sunbelt Rentals' expertise in the industry, the client was very engaged in discussions regarding structure and accessory options. These discussions lead to design renderings from which a clearer picture of the solution was created. Further adjustments of the design elements followed resulting in a finished product that was shared with the client’s executive teams for final approval. 

Sunbelt Rentals USA then installed 26 of these clear span structures at twelve different plants over a two-week period. This was crucial as the client’s workforce was due to return the following week and the thermal imaging cameras needed to be operational before they arrived on site. Total project time was five weeks from initial contact, mobilization and installation.

Upon completion of the installations the comments Sunbelt Rentals received included, “this is exactly what we needed” and, “these structures are much more than just an average backyard party tent.” The client was very pleased with the solution Sunbelt Rentals USA delivered.


Chris-HillChris Hill, the project manager for this endeavor, expressed how important this project was to him and his team. “What I enjoy most about this project is knowing that these structures are an integral part of our client’s plan to bring thousands of men and women back to work in a safe and healthy way.

Sunbelt Rentals teams are currently preparing these clear span structures for a multitude of industries around the country. If your team needs new solutions for to adapt to conditions in the era of COVID-19, Sunbelt Rentals is ready to help.

Call one of our project managers today.

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Topics: Business Continuity Manufacturing