This blog was guest written by Matt Lanham, Regional Sales Manager at Cambridge Air Solutions.
What it Means to "Do Nothing" as a Leader
I’m supposing a few of you are picturing your toes in the sand, a good book, the feel of a gentle breeze and the rush of the tide crashing on the sand. Maybe a comfy couch, a Saturday afternoon nap with absolutely nothing on your agenda. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
In the facilities management world, doing nothing can take on a different meaning. “Doing nothing” means meeting status quo - nothing more - and it can have a dramatic effect on everything from comfortable workspaces to employee health to retaining the best talent available for the job. When faced with the decision to invest in your facility, it can be tempting to put it off or assume that your current system is performing “OK” and there is no immediate need for action. But now that facility leaders are challenged with creating better cultures and healthier working environments inside their production spaces, the cost of doing nothing is now greater than ever in regards to your employee’s health, productivity and job satisfaction.
Focus on the Ventilation
One of our governing bodies, the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), set forth standards to provide necessary minimum ventilation for occupied working spaces. This limit is always being pushed as healthier buildings demand less recirculated and more outside air for worker safety. With proper filtration and the right amount of exhausted air, workers can experience better cross-flow ventilation, removing a ton of contaminants that can cause health and safety problems.
But indoor air quality (IAQ) is only a small part of a much larger picture. Leading an efficient workforce while maintaining a high level of quality in the end product is paramount to a company’s future. Greater than 85% of all manufacturing in the US comes from small businesses and what the larger big-box warehouse and manufacturers can attest to, worker comfort is a priority for their long-term growth, recruiting and retaining top-notch talent and for the overall safety of people.
As warmer temperatures take hold of a majority of the United States, processes inside of manufacturing spaces cause internal temperatures to rise even faster, largely due to the processes going on the production floor. While many facilities utilize a combination of intake and exhaust fans, this is just a first step in battling heat stress. Several recent studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between rising temperatures and productivity levels – so much that there is a 1:1 correlation between temperatures above 77˚F and worker output. Not to mention at higher temps employees are more likely to have accidents and produce products of a lesser quality. By doing nothing at all, facility leaders are already spending several thousands of dollars daily, weekly or annually in lost productivity and down time.
Can You Air Condition a Warehouse or a Factory?
Inside our homes, there is great success in using vapor compression/direct expansion (DX) cooling with recirculated air, but with huge heat gains from processes inside manufacturing spaces, DX cooling isn’t adequate enough nor does it provide enough outside air to satisfy minimum occupancy requirements. Moreover, the cost to run DX cooling is some of the highest in the HVAC industry. Some plants consider using chilled water systems, but typically require a large capital investment up front to install chiller plants, pumps and other equipment.
Nature’s way of cooling
For centuries, manufacturing spaces have utilized evaporative cooling to provide temperature depression inside their spaces. They know that because of a very simple design, there are less moving parts and MUCH less energy required to run them. While typically thought as a viable alternative in drier climates, the use of 2-stage evaporative cooling (including an indirect heat exchanger coupled with direct evaporative module), is gaining a lot of traction in climates of the Midwest, Mid-South and Southeast United States. These facility owners know that their customers demand a high quality product, their workers rely on healthier working environments to be productive and they can provide temperature relief without spending a fortune operating their systems.
Come and See for Yourself
At Cambridge Air Solutions, we not only manufacture equipment to help create healthier working environments, but we’ve experienced some of these same challenges – internal heat stress, worker comfort and unhealthy indoor temperatures. Come connect with us either virtually or in person to see how we have tackled some of these issues, installing a large Two-Stage evaporative unit on our building to help offset internal heat stress while lowering our indoor temperatures to help maintain a healthy work force.