Food manufacturing facility managers know the costs of keeping their workforce comfortable in spacious facilities every winter. It may seem counterintuitive, but the answer for many facilities is actually better known for its summer cooling power: ceiling fans. Large diameter, low speed industrial fans can save food manufacturing facilities a significant amount on their winter heat bills, with customers reporting savings up to 35 percent.
In the winter, stratification occurs because air coming out of a heater is 5-7 percent lighter than cool air in a space and tends to rise to the ceiling. In the winter, large diameter fans can be used to efficiently destratify heat by moving large volumes of warm air downward and off the ceiling without creating a draft. The steady mixing of air creates a uniform temperature throughout the space, which can help the heater maintain the same thermostat setpoint with less effort, resulting in a serious reduction of operating costs.
Refrigerated production and storage facilities can use such fans to eliminate hot and cold spots in the facility, enabling managers to use the entire space.
“In large spaces, HVAC systems are generally not capable of effectively distributing air to all occupants,” explained Christian Taber, senior applications engineer and LEED accredited professional for Big Ass Fans®. “Large circulator fans mix the air in the space ensuring good air distribution, creating uniform temperatures that increase occupant comfort and minimize stratification.”
Because these big fans use their immense size, rather than speed, to move a substantial amount of air, they require minimal electrical input to run.
Large fans can be added to many existing structures, where they often are used to help qualify the building for energy-saving incentive programs. In new construction, specifying large fans when the HVAC system is designed can also help facilities eliminate a significant amount of ductwork, saving on initial building costs before the fans are ever turned on.
Case in point
McCain Foods production plant in Carberry, MB, distributors of McDonald’s French fries and numerous other frozen food products, used the power of air movement to thaw its facility rather than its food. Condensation was a big problem at the Carberry plant, especially after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency expressed concern about ice buildup, because drops of water forming the stalactites had the potential to contaminate product.
“We have different air pressures in the factory. In the process area you have very moist air that is at higher pressure than the air in the freezer. What happens is that moist air comes down through the freezing tunnels and out the conveyor holes in the wall and infiltrates the freezer,” explained Chief Engineer Geoffrey Aitchison.
The company purchased a 24-ft. diameter Big Ass Fan and saw an immediate difference.
“After two weeks the ceiling was completely clear and it has been ever since,” Aitchison said. “The air is circulating, plus we’re warming the ceiling to the same temperature as the air, so the frost isn’t going to stay there.”
Along with reducing condensation and creating consistent temperatures, Big Ass Fans also aid McCain Foods’ energy efficiency plans. Since the installation of their first fans in 2007, McCain Foods Canada has installed additional fans in other processing facilities.
“Our Big Ass Fans are a tremendous solution to the problem we had concerning energy conservation and satisfying the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Requirements,” Aitchison said.
By helping the managers of large spaces maintain consistent temperatures from ceiling to floor and wall to wall, industrial fans are an energy-efficient approach to worker comfort and condensation reduction.
Big Ass Fans is the world’s preeminent designer and manufacturer of large diameter, low speed fans.