Assuming the readers of this article are past the most fundamental question – “why is an investment on the right HVAC important?”, we move on to the how. Of course, the why depends on the line of business you are in and if you are a part of the food processing industry especially, you must look deep into the importance of an investment in the right HVAC system. This article tries to invest the WCGWs (What Could Go Wrong) of a HVAC system and what must be done to address it. In other words, how to choose the right HVAC.
To do so let us break down a system of HVAC – Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning. For the sake of detail, let us also consider Air Distribution System. The individual components, more or less, are as follows:
- Air Handling Unit – source of filtered hot and cold air
- Supply Air Ducts (metallic or textile) – source of distribution
- Return Air Ducts (metallic or textile) – source of ventilation
Air Handling Units – WCGW
There are multiple examples to provide here. Depending on the level of HYGIENE to be maintained, an Air Handling Unit must be chosen to suit the conditions. The following are some of the points that could go wrong, especially from the point of view of the food processing industry:
- Bacterial retention
- Operational inflexibility
- Frequent part replacement
- High energy expenditure
Air Handling Units – WCGW – How to address them (with Sinteco’s HYGIENE series of Air Handling Units)
Even before the WCGWs mentioned above, there is one major problem that is addressed by Sinteco’s Air Handling Units. The need for customization. If you are a food manufacturer, chances are that you are bound by regulation to maintain a hygienic work floor, which means that the components that are on the work floor also need to be HYGIENIC (ability to be cleaned on a frequent basis and with strong cleaning solutions). Off-the-shelf products cannot be HYGIENIC as they are manufactured with an assembly line method (mass production) and less emphasis is placed on quality. Further, with a standard off-the-shelf product, food processors must plan according to the standard design of the AHU which leaves no scope for improvisation. Sinteco’s HYGIENE series of Air Handling Units provides a solution – all AHUs are manufactured make-to-order and completely customized based on your requirements.
Bacterial Retention can be a huge problem in the food processing industry. European Union has laid down laws to control the level of micro-organisms in food processing facilities and there are strict regulations govern the food manufacturers. Similarly, the United States of America has also laid down clear laws on Microbiological Criteria in food manufacturing facilities. To prevent bacterial retention, there are no magic solutions since where there is moisture and oxygen, aerobic microbes and mould will thrive – the only solution is to have a strict sanitation program where periodic cleaning of the AHU surfaces is performed to prevent the possibility of mould formation. However, the AHU must support such frequent and strong cleaning. The standard AHUs in the market do resist cleaning but compromise on the overall active life. Sinteco’s Air Handling Units are designed to resist strong and frequent cleaning and as well as offer durability over a long period of time.
Operational Inflexibility is a state of not being able to use Air Handling Units in extreme operating conditions. For example, if an AHU was designed to generate a certain amount of air flow rate, and in the future, it needs to be operated at an entirely different flow rate (smaller or larger), it may be a challenge. However, even Sinteco recommends to its clients to use an Air Handling Unit for what it was designed. But in case of Sinteco’s AHUs, there is at least some scope for change as Sinteco’s Engineering team can recommend modifications to the AHU should there be a technical possibility. Whereas for standard AHUs, it is next to impossible to operate at extreme conditions, as well as to modify the configuration.
Frequent Spare Part Replacement could be a nightmare especially for environments with a high amount of airborne particulate matter. Not only does it make the AHU consume more power, but also tends to wear out the internal components. In standard Air Handling Units, since less emphasis is placed on quality, they are less priced and one of the biggest ways standard AHU manufacturers make money is by selling spare parts. In Harvard Business Review’s 2006 Financial Management article titled Winning in the Aftermarket, the authors stress on the fact that sale of spare parts and after-sales services in the United States is 8% of annual Gross Domestic Product. That means American businesses and consumers spend approximately $1 trillion every year on assets they already own. The article has been written on a positive sense because it is targeted at manufacturers. As an end customer however, food processing companies must heavily consider the expenditure on spare parts in case of a standard AHU.
Corrosion is caused by virtue of poor design. Standard off-the-shelf AHUs are made of multiple compartments that usually create a wedge or a gap between two faces of metal. In presence of moisture and oxygen, corrosion can occur that could eat into metal and disturb performance and eventually the active life of the AHU. Sinteco’s Air Handling Units on the other hand are manufactured with special panels, materials of construction and with special design that ensure there are no metallic junctions for corrosion.
High energy expenditure is a problem especially today when there is huge awareness about energy conservation. In a classic case of refrigeration & air conditioning, when there are a line of components such as heating coil, cooling coil, dehumidification wheel and a fan especially for a high level of air flow rate (for 24 hours x 365 days save for maintenance) is going to consume a large amount of energy. Smart engineering is the only way against spending a lot of money on energy. Concepts like free cooling for inherently cold places and heat recovery are some of the techniques that can be incorporated in the AHU design to reduce the overall consumption of energy. Standard off-the-shelf AHUs also incorporate these techniques but they are again limited to specific designs and it is not possible to customize the AHU.
Air Ducts – WCGW
Whether it is supply air or return air with textile ducts or metallic ducts, the air ducts are vulnerable to certain aspects. Especially in a process where high level of hygiene is required, and air ducts are exposed to the same environment as the process itself, the challenge of sanitation is the biggest.
Air Ducts – WCGW – How to address them (with Sinteco’s HYGIENE Air Ducts)
Sinteco’s textile ducts made of polyester is what is available in the rest of the market. However, Sinteco will be a one stop shop for the entire Air Conditioning & Distribution system and all the air ducts (whether textile ducts or metallic ducts) are entirely produced in Sinteco’s workshop. It is usual to find sub-contractors for standard manufactures of Air Handling Units as having a unit for the production of textile air ducts or fabrication of metallic air ducts is an extra cost for the manufacturer. Additionally, Sinteco’s textile air ducts AERTEX® is completely washable with standard washing machines and can be easily dismounted and remounted. The same explanation goes for Sinteco’s metallic air ducts AERMET® that is made of welded stainless steel to ensure utmost levels of HYGIENE and frequently cleanable.
As elucidated, it is imperative as a food manufacturer to consider all possible pitfalls before choosing the right supplier for HVAC systems. Some of the other detailed WCGWs not mentioned are about the proper maintenance of temperature, pressure, humidity and filtration.
With more than 40 years of experience especially with major industry players all over the world, Sinteco has the expertise to be your next and final solution provider for your HVAC requirements. If your nosiness is involved with food processing and you like the contents of this articles, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for we would love to say hi!