In 1978 Terminal 1 at O’Hare Airport was under renovation and Semler Industries was involved to help provide potable water cabinets for each of the gates.  Aircraft have been required to provide quality water on-boarding for drinking and hand-washing for both washrooms and galleys.  While this may seem straight-forward, cleanliness is difficult when considering the amount of other fluids handled by the servicing ground crew.  Another important aspect under consideration is that of the durability for outdoor equipment used daily under conditions of -25F to 100F ambient temperatures as well as a few feet of snow to scathing sunlight.

Case Evaluation – Chicago O’Hare Terminal 1

United Airlines, who control most of their Chicago flights out of O’Hare’s terminal 1 were in contact with Bill Schulz of Semler Industries.   The engineering group of UA required 52 potable water cabinets and 48 glycol cabinets.  AP Epstein worked with Semler in assuring design criteria were met in detail.  After building a single unit to confirm construction design was correct and quality of construction exceeded the requirements, UA approved the build.  The order timeframe was tight and the final installation of the last potable water cabinet was completed as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra was tuning up for the dedication ceremony!

Today, Semler Industries continues to provide potable water cabinets at O’Hare airport as necessary for gate expansions or replacing 30-year old cabinets.  Beyond this, ground support equipment cabinets have been provided at airports across the US, Canada and globally to South America, Europe, Asia and Middle East.  Semler has earned such successes based on providing the highest quality and relentlessly pursuing product improvement.

Equipment Description

Semler Industries was given a basic specification to be met regarding flow rate and coupling details, but beyond the basic specification, rigorous efforts have been made to continuously improve the product over the years.  The equipment is composed of a stainless steel cabinet, durable electric rewind hose reel, pressure regulator, filter and for heated units, a thermostat, heaters and insulation.

Design efforts have been made to shed rain and snow from the top of the equipment as well as drain internally should any water drip inside during servicing.  The door closer is designed to stay open even with some amount of wind gusts and alternatively , assists in closing with only moderate manual effort.

One other benefit is the light on top of the cabinet that illuminates should the doors not close.  This is done for cold-weather locations to prevent the lines inside from freezing thereby reducing the risk of ruptured pipes, frozen water lines, and the potential of delaying the on-boarding of water, which could result in flight delays.


Semler Industries remains proud of its performance and longevity in this market.  Various ground support teams have considered alternatives to Semler, but always return to Semler for the guaranteed quality of product which pays back in life cycle costs.  Check with Semler Industries before purchasing anywhere else.


  1. Potable Water Cabinets, Semler Industries, 2005

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