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Comfort is Key in Today’s Manufacturing Plants

Christian Taber
By Christian Taber Principal Engineer of Codes and Standards, Big Ass Fans

Providing for your employees is paramount in the current marketplace. If you aren’t offering a comfortable environment for your workers, they’ll seek other options. Thermal comfort is an individual’s subjective assessment of personal satisfaction in an environment and is defined by international comfort standards.

ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 55 establishes acceptable ranges of indoor environmental conditions. It estimates that for thermal comfort in typical manufacturing applications, acceptable temperatures range from 67-82°F (19.4-27.8°C) depending on a combination of six factors:

  • Metabolic rate: energy used by the body,
  • Level of insulation provided by clothing,
  • Air temperature surrounding the occupant,
  • Radiant temperature (the weighted average of all the temperatures from surfaces surrounding an occupant),
  • Rate of air movement across the body, and
  • Humidity (moisture content in the air).

A custom airflow solution can bring comfort to your employees and reduce HVAC costs.

By creating a facility airflow layout tailored for your needs, you’ll be able to see the impact air movement can have in every inch of your space.

So what’s the fix? How can thermal comfort be delivered efficiently and affordably? Fans can provide up to 10oF of cooling comfort, but HVLS (High-Volume, Low-Speed) fans provide maximum coverage in your space.

The human body gives off heat and moisture to the surrounding air, making the air around us hotter and more humid and reducing its capacity to absorb additional heat and moisture. This layer of hot, humid air forms a blanket around the body, reducing the body’s ability to give off excess heat.

The breeze from a ceiling fan disrupts this layer of insulating air and supplies cooler, drier air. This not only allows for faster rejection of heat directly from the skin, but it also increases the rate at which perspiration evaporates, increasing the cooling effect provided by air movement.

Thermal comfort may be the main concern for many facilities, but air quality is close behind. Poor air quality can lead to worker discomfort and sickness. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2016 specifies two different factors for determining minimum ventilation rates.

Two Key Requirements

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A HVLS fan in action. (Provided by Big Ass Fans)

The first is a per-person requirement to dilute pollutant sources associated with human activity considered proportional to the number of occupants. The second is a per-unit-area requirement designed to dilute pollutants generated by building materials, equipment, and other sources not associated with the number of occupants.

Ventilation and exhaust using outdoor air is typically a building code requirement for all occupied spaces. But ventilation is only effective when new air is delivered to the occupant level. A poorly designed air distribution system can leave irritants and chemical gases unstirred and undiluted, leaving your workers in a potentially unsafe and hazardous space. HVLS fans can distribute fresh air to the occupant level where it can effectively dilute and stir the irritants and gases into a less concentrated mix that is acceptable to breathe.

As a result, HVLS fans deliver an environment your employees will actually enjoy working in.

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