Atwood Mobile products has found a supplier of mercury-free thermostats for RV ovens and ranges which could help bring the current shortage of RV ovens and ranges to an end a little sooner than expected.
Atwood, a unit of DURA Automotive Systems Inc., revealed earlier this week it was building a line of RV ovens and ranges that doesn’t rely on traditional mercury thermostats and other components from the Harper-Wyman unit of Appliance Controls Group.
No specific time frame for an end to the shortage was given. Earlier this week, Atwood Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Carl Pfalzgraf estimated that Atwood’s production of ovens without Harper-Wyman components could bring the RV oven shortage to an end in four to five weeks. Pfalzgraf also estimated that it might take four to six more weeks for Harper-Wyman to resolve its problems.
Harper-Wyman, until recently the sole source of thermostats and some other other components for RV ovens, has had difficulty since late last year adequately supplying Atwood and the nation’s two other RV oven builders, Maytag and Suburban. As a result, some RV manufacturers are working as few as two days a week because to the oven shortage.
Now Atwood is building RV ovens, including new thermostats, manifolds and burners, with components from seven suppliers, including two that are overseas, said Larry Lebryk, international sales manager at Atwood.
Once Harper-Wyman gets its problems resolved, Atwood will continue building RV ovens with components from suppliers other than Harper-Wyman because it does not want the RV industry to be in the vulnerable position of relying upon only one supplier for a particular key component, Lebryk said.
Atwood also will continue building ovens using Harper-Wyman components for the same reason, Lebryk added.
Harper-Wyman’s current output and quality control problems are largely the result of the move of its production last year from Princeton, Ill., to Ooltewah, Tenn., a community near Chattanooga.
But before Harper-Wyman’s problems arose, Atwood started the development of a new RV oven operating system because it realized its oven-building operation was vulnerable because of its reliance upon a single supplier of key parts, and because it wanted to include more environmentally friendly, mercury-free thermostats, Lebryk said.
Harper-Wyman’s difficulties expedited Atwood’s development program, he said.
Harper-Wyman expects to introduce a line of mercury-free thermostats for RV ovens in the fourth quarter of this year, Lebryk said.
Some aspects of Atwood’s new RV oven operating system may qualify for patent protection, he said.