This article first appeared in the 2013 Industrial Distribution January/February issue. You can view it here.
Everyone at some point in life has walked into a stuffy, overcrowded warehouse or distribution center and wanted nothing more than to be back out in the light of day and breathing fresh air.
An all too common problem, DC air quality is as important of a factor as any when it comes to maximizing energy efficiency and worker safety and productivity. The options to solve the problem have come a long way, and when put into practice, can yield savings across the board for distributors.
“The indoor air quality within a warehouse is often two-to-five times more polluted than outdoor air and can be up to 1,000 times as dirty,” says Antoinette Braham, President of Marketing at Clean Air American, Inc. This can lead to decreased productivity and increased worker absences, neither of which helps to propel a business forward. Using the right equipment to keep your facility’s air clean helps remove not only dust, but mold and other unwanted contaminants that damage both the quality of air for workers to breathe and the safety of the warehouse itself.
Add this to the fact that dusty or dirty parcels arriving on a customer’s doorstep don’t speak well about where they were shipped from, either. “Poor air quality can result in contaminated inventory. Product that is shipped with dust on it looks obsolete – not good for the image of an efficient distribution center,” notes Dust Collection Product’s President, John Buser.
Christian Taber, Senior Applications Engineer for Big Ass Fans, notes that while studies show increased comfort equals increased productivity, it is not always practical or easy to do. Taber says that keeping up with air quality can help improve worker safety year round, but can be costly. “Large industrial spaces are often impractical and expensive to heat and cool, so air movement becomes both the simplest and most affordable solution. Applying gentle, non-disruptive airflow from large diameter, low speed fans can be used to increase occupant comfort and productivity.”
Steadily mixing air can help facilities maintain a better constant temperature, decreasing energy spending on inefficient or outdated HVAC systems. Another option to look at are new and more efficient dust collectors, which can be for the whole warehouse or as point of origin collectors for notoriously dusty areas.
Braham encourages distributors to work with air filtration specialists to evaluate, design, and install the proper equipment for the situation, and to make sure that the company is willing to train maintenance personnel in the best way to care for the system. This will maximize equipment longevity, and could just pump some fresh air into the productivity of the warehouse.