Do You Have a Handle on Your Air Handling Systems?

Air is important, we all know that and take it as fact.  Still, how often do we think about the air? A wise man once told me that air was no big deal, until you aren’t getting any…  True story. In today’s food production facilities, air is a big deal in myriad ways. Do you know how air is affecting your production plant?

Air is just air; or is it?  What lives in the air, the temperature, humidity, volume, all play a role in the operation of food plants.  Air will get into the plant one way or another and by taking control over the entry and exit, you can better control its quality, quantity and effects on the process.  Proper filtration will limit the dust, debris and particulate that can enter your processing rooms. Stainless steel construction with direct drive fans, properly sequenced heating and cooling sections, and wash-down duty components allow you to maintain clean, dry air entering your processing spaces.  Considerations such as pre-filters to protect the final filters, draw-through cooling coils to eliminate final filter wetting, removal of belt dust and efficiency loss, multiple speed operation for dry out, pressure control and others are paramount in ensuring proper conditions in processing spaces during operation.  Locating the AHUs properly on the roof helps avoid the intake of contaminants from sources such as docs and process discharges. Proper elevations and curb heights help those in the North from having intakes blocked by snow drifts. There are countless air handling design considerations that can help or hinder the performance of your processes and your building.

Integrating air handler controls with the clean-up cycles can help limit fogging during wash downs and ensure that the units return to production mode once CIP is complete.  Automating the process eliminates human error from the air equation and helps to reduce the likelihood of contamination and the excess use of utilities to heat and cool the air.  The use of PLCs and VFDs can help to automate the air handling systems and ensure the air volume doesn’t drop off as filters load, ensuring proper space pressurizations are not compromised.

Air surrounds every worker, every machine and every product in your plant.  The air is carrying allergens, contaminates, pathogens, moisture and heat. Are you sure that your air handling systems are up to the challenge of maintaining a clean and comfortable processing facility?  Don’t let a lack of quality air take the wind out of your sails this year. While it may not be a big deal today, you may soon find yourself short on quality air, and that could take your breath away.

 

Written by: Joshua Isely