With warmer days coming in the next months, some manufacturing facilities may have to schedule constant breaks to protect workers from heat stress. Fortunately, there are effective solutions to reduce or eliminate the costly breaks due to high heat events.
Contain the heat source:
The first step is to contain, as much as possible, the heat source with effective use of insulation or reflective panels. Under certain conditions, dedicated exhaust at the heat source is most efficient. Some examples are steam pipes, ovens, furnaces and air compressors.
Improve the air distribution system:
In some plants, strategic changes in the existing air distribution system will lower plant air temperature at work stations. For example, repositioning the return air intakes will reduce the temperature at the floor level.
Another approach to reduce heat stress on workers is to decrease relative humidity of the air. The use of mechanical cooling certainly attains this objective while desiccant wheels are lower cost options.
Do not overlook air movement. Workers experiencing air movement greater than 300 FPM will feel cooler.
Finally, should capital budgets permit, mechanical cooling with localized spot cooling attains the best results for workers comfort.