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Posted by Stephanie on April 15, 2024

Managing an effective warehouse allows you to scale your business and meet customer demand. However, success is only possible if you maintain a productive and safe work environment. A crucial element of any work environment is a comprehensive ventilation system. When you install an industrial ventilation system in your facility, it must be strong enough to remove large amounts of airborne contaminants. 

Ventilation systems are essential during the summer months when temperatures rise. The system will exhaust hot air from your warehouse and replace it with fresh air from outside. Your system must be able to replace the air in your facility at least five times every hour. 

When designing an effective ventilation system, you must consider numerous considerations. For example, your facility’s occupancy rates determine the ventilation you’ll require. This guide offers a more detailed look at warehouse ventilation systems and how to use them to maximize comfort in your industrial facility. 

Occupancy Rates and Activities

Your facility’s ventilation needs depend on the occupants’ number and activities. If you employ 75 personnel expected to work eight hours a day for five days each week, you can use this information to identify how much capacity your ventilation system should have. 

The right amount of warehouse ventilation is necessary to ensure the safety, health, and comfort of the people who work there. The ventilation requirements will be higher if your facility has a high occupancy rate and maintains arduous work demands. 

Material Storage Requirements

The size and capacity of your warehouse ventilation system also depend on your material storage requirements. Consider the types of products you store in your warehouse. Do some of these items have particular humidity and temperature requirements? For example, dry goods like baking supplies, cereals, and grains must be stored at 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid mold and bacteria growth. 

In this scenario, installing thermometers around your facility is an excellent idea to ensure the indoor air temperature is properly maintained. You’ll need ample ventilation to maintain these temperatures during the summer. The types of materials and products that have specific humidity and temperature requirements include the following:

  • Paper products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Dry goods
  • Freshly cut flowers

Construction materials and similar products may not have strict requirements. 

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Indoor air quality (IAQ) involves the concentration of airborne contaminants in your warehouse. While indoor air contaminants are also common in residential homes, industrial warehouses contain many additional sources of pollutants. In your facility, the main contributor to pollution is likely the exhaust produced from your material handling equipment

If your warehouse environment is poorly ventilated, carbon monoxide buildup is more likely, which can be deadly. Some indoor pollutants are associated with stored materials. Dust is often produced from storing powder or bulk materials, while volatile organic compounds (VOCs) enter the air from paints, plastics, and foams. 

warehouse fan

Understanding the dangers posed by high contaminant levels should prepare you to tackle these issues. If you can control these pollutants in your warehouse, health risks should be lower. Remember that the adverse health effects caused by indoor air pollutants don’t always occur immediately after exposure. Health issues related to these pollutants can develop years after the fact

The effects that can occur immediately after being exposed to indoor air pollutants include the following:

  • Eye, throat, and nose irritation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

These symptoms don’t last long and are typically easy to treat. If some of your employees have asthma, their symptoms might become aggravated soon after exposure to pollutants. The possibility of an immediate reaction depends on the person’s preexisting health issues and age. Some people can be more sensitive to a specific pollutant than others, so it’s best to implement proper ventilation to eradicate as many contaminants as possible. The long-term effects that can be attributed to indoor air pollutants include the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • Lung disease

The primary sources of air pollution within a warehouse include the following:

  • Exhaust fumes when items are picked up and dropped off
  • Ventilation issues, which commonly occur when the facility is sealed off during the winter
  • Chemical emissions from raw materials or manufacturing processes
  • Moisture and dampness from high humidity, leaks, or flooding
  • Inadequate maintenance of HVAC and ventilation systems

Many pollutants can be produced from these sources, which extend to:

  • Lead
  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Pesticides
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Asbestos
  • Biological contaminants
  • Radon
  • Wood smoke
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Indoor particulate matter

Room Refresh Rates/CFM Requirements

The roof refresh rate in your facility is when outdoor air is cycled into the interior space. This metric is often displayed as air changes per hour (ACH). The air change rates in a typical warehouse range from five to 30 every hour. 

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has set minimum ventilation rates for institutional and commercial spaces that all companies must adhere to. 

These guidelines are expressed as cubic feet per minute (CFM) of airflow for every square foot of space. Several factors determine your facility’s airflow rate, which includes indoor air quality and occupancy rates. If your equipment and machinery produce excessive fumes, you’ll need higher refresh rates to compensate. To determine your ventilation system’s CFM, use this formula: 

ACH = 60Q/Vol

Vol equals the total air volume within your space, shown in cubic feet. The “Q” designation is your system’s CFM.

Layout and Airflow Patterns

After identifying the ideal CFM and air change rate for your warehouse, set airflow patterns. Ventilation components like fans, louvers, and vents can create distinct airflow strategies. 

For example, let’s say that you place supply and exhaust fans on opposite walls. This layout allows you to maintain a continuous crossflow pattern. You could also place supply fans on sidewalls and exhaust fans on the roof line. This setup exhausts warm air from the ceiling while cool air is brought in from the sides. 

Warehouse with Bundled Uprights and Beams

Regardless of the layout you choose, the airflow patterns must be able to remove indoor air contaminants and keep clean air circulating throughout every section of your warehouse

If your ventilation system is too small to circulate air within the entire facility, some rooms may have worse humidity and temperature control. If your warehouse has a high ceiling, you may need extra fans to reduce the possibility of air stratification issues

Exhaust/Makeup Air Balance

To maintain the building’s pressure equilibrium, you must properly balance makeup and exhaust air. If your building brings in more air than it exhausts, the warehouse will have positive pressure. Adverse pressure conditions occur when you exhaust more air than your ventilation system brings in. It’s possible to balance indoor air by bringing in fresh air from louver systems, open doorways, and windows. 

However, this is more challenging during the cold winter months. Suppose you seal your warehouse tightly once the temperatures drop. In that case, you must install a mechanical makeup air system to ensure the right amount of fresh air is brought in if you’d like to keep airborne contaminants from spreading throughout your facility, maintaining a slight negative pressure. 

Filtration Needs

Your warehouse may require a filtration system. Most warehouses use standard ventilation principles to move stagnant air out of the facility and bring fresh air in. A filtration system can go a step further by getting rid of outdoor contaminants, including pollen and dust. 

If your warehouse is equipped with a heating and cooling system, the filters within the unit shouldn’t be put under as much stress if you also implement filtration. Keep in mind, however, that a warehouse only sometimes creates enough emissions to need filtration. If particulate matter and excessive fumes are accumulating, consider obtaining multiple portable air purifiers and placing them in areas where your personnel work. 

Energy Consumption

You must consider energy efficiency when designing or purchasing a warehouse ventilation system. If you’d like to reduce the stress on your HVAC system and boost temperature control, think about installing a high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fanThese fans are made to deliver ample air circulation in large spaces

Ventilation Install

The system’s design determines its energy consumption and efficiency. Some other factors that can impact the type of system you should obtain include everything from climate conditions to the size of your facility. Suppose you’re about to move your operations to a new facility. In that case, it’s more cost-effective to create a comprehensive ventilation system at the beginning instead of retrofitting one later. 

Conclusion

To design an effective warehouse ventilation system that keeps your employees comfortable and healthy, consider factors like airflow patterns, roof refresh rates, indoor air quality, and material storage requirements. Consult with ventilation experts who offer tailored solutions to avoid wasting money on a system that doesn’t efficiently move air in and out of your warehouse. If you’re creating a new warehouse or maintaining an existing one, prioritize ventilation from the start.

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