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Posted by Stephanie on April 8, 2024

From implementing the proper layout to providing comprehensive employee training, there are numerous steps you can take to improve warehouse efficiency. You must also pay attention to your employees and their comfort. Installing a high-quality ventilation system can keep employees more comfortable and boost their overall efficiency. 

Proper ventilation is necessary to avoid long-lasting health issues. Even a small amount of pollution daily can cause health problems later. Industrial ventilation removes contaminants from the indoor air and keeps the interior cool during summer. 

If you plan on installing a ventilation system in your warehouse, many factors must be considered. In addition to indoor air quality, you must also consider airflow patterns, material storage requirements, and energy consumption. This guide delves into warehouse ventilation and how to use it in your facility.

Underside of Conventional Wide Span Mezzanine

Understanding Warehouse Ventilation

If you want your personnel to work efficiently, you must have a ventilation system to keep fresh air circulating throughout the building. Stale and stagnant air is often warm with an unpleasant odor. Dust will easily collect on the shelves, which means it will get kicked up when your personnel perform loading and unloading operations. 

If you have clients or supervisors who occasionally visit your warehouse, they’ll notice when the air is stale and a proper ventilation system is needed. With the right ventilation system, you can maintain employee health, productivity, and safety by providing a more comfortable workspace.

Factors to Consider in Warehouse Ventilation Design

When you’re designing warehouse ventilation, there are around eight distinct factors to consider, which include the following:

  • Occupancy rates and activities
  • Material storage requirements
  • Indoor air quality
  • Room refresh rates and CFM requirements
  • Layout and airflow patterns
  • Exhaust and makeup air balance
  • Filtration needs
  • Energy consumption

When considering occupancy rates, estimate the number of people occupying your space at a given time. How much time do you expect them to spend in the facility? To ensure you install sufficient ventilation, you need to know that everyone in the building will be healthy and comfortable. If the occupancy rate is high, the work demands will be more strenuous, so you’ll need to install considerable ventilation. 

Think about the types of materials that are stored in your facility. Do they have specific humidity and temperature requirements that you need to adhere to? For example, paper products, pharmaceuticals, and dry goods require defined humidity and temperature levels to avoid spoilage

The building’s existing indoor air quality also plays a role in determining how much ventilation you require. When the air contains a high concentration of pollutants, its quality is low. In most warehouses, a considerable portion of indoor pollution is caused by material handling equipment and the exhaust that’s produced from it. If your warehouse environment isn’t outfitted with proper ventilation, carbon monoxide and other harmful contaminants will accumulate. 

Many of these contaminants can damage a person’s respiratory system. Before designing ventilation for your warehouse, measure the air quality. If contaminant levels are high, some pollutants could be produced from stored materials. For example, stored paints, plastic, and foams can produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

warehouse fan

The room refresh rate in a building refers to how quickly fresh outdoor air gets into the space. In warehouses, these rates can range from six to 30 changes each hour. Based on the minimum requirements that ASHRAE has set, warehouses need to have at least 0.06 CFM per square foot of ventilation. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. Even though 0.06 is the minimum rate, it can be adjusted depending on indoor air quality, occupancy rates, and other factors. If your warehouse contains a high level of fumes produced from material handling equipment, you’ll need higher room refresh rates. 

Once you determine your facility’s ideal air change rate, you can use this data to figure out how you want the air to move through your space. Warehouse ventilation can involve sidewall or rooftop supply fans and exhaust fans. These systems can also include wall louvers and rooftop gravity vents. 

You can maneuver this equipment to create different airflow patterns. For example, if you place exhaust fans on one of the sidewalls and supply fans on the opposite one, you can produce a continuous cross-flow of air. Your specific pattern depends on your needs and the items you’re storing in the facility. When designing airflow patterns, make sure they properly remove indoor air contaminants. 

It’s also essential that the exhaust and makeup air rates are balanced. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a positive or negative pressure condition. The interior pressure should remain balanced when fresh air enters the building from windows, louver systems, and doorways. If your building exhausts air at high rates, it should pull more in through natural openings. If your warehouse has few openings, consider using a mechanical makeup air system to bring in more fresh air.

Consider your building’s filtration needs as well. While stagnant air should move out of a well-ventilated building, installing a filtration system can help you improve the indoor air quality. These systems are often necessary in warehouses that regularly use material handling equipment.

As for energy consumption, your ventilation system needs to be efficient. You will only need to use your HVAC system sometimes if you have high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans. Your ventilation system’s design determines how efficient it is.

Implementing Effective Warehouse Ventilation Systems

Several designs and configurations can be used when setting up the components to ensure ventilation efficiency. As mentioned, sidewall cross ventilation is among the more effective solutions for proper ventilation. 

Intake Louvers

The most common layout for ventilation systems in a warehouse involves roof exhaust and intake louvers. It’s an affordable and highly efficient layout. Intake louvers help to protect openings against rain seepage. When winter arrives, the ventilation system will be disabled to make way for a heating unit. You can also obtain adjustable blade louvers, which can be placed in open and closed positions. These louvers are ideal for summer ventilation systems. 

Other options include combination louvers/dampers and stationary louvers/dampers. The combination system comes with fixed front louver blades and operable damper blades. However, they are more expensive than adjustable blade louvers. In comparison, stationary louvers and dampers are costly but highly flexible. The dampers have low leakage ratings, meaning air shouldn’t escape your facility.

Exhaust Fans

When choosing exhaust fans, the most common options include hooded axial exhaust fans, spun aluminum centrifugal systems, and axial upblast units. Axial upblast fans are affordable and highly efficient. They are suitable for warehouses with extensive airflow capabilities that reach 30,000-60,000 cfm. In comparison, hooded axial exhaust fans are more expensive than axial ones and require field assembly. The hooded design’s main advantage is more protection against the elements.

When designing your ventilation system, striking the right balance between natural and mechanical ventilation is essential. Natural ventilation occurs from window and door openings as well as louvers. Mechanical ventilation involves systems hooked up to an external power source. You may need mechanical ventilation systems if your warehouse doesn’t pull in enough air from the outside.

To properly monitor and control airflow in your warehouse, it’s highly recommended that you use technology that makes this process easier. You can measure airflow in your warehouse space with an anemometer

Case Studies and Best Practices

Many of the top warehouses in the country have installed effective ventilation systems capable of maintaining healthy air in large spaces. For example, Walmart and other grocery stores have optimized their warehouses and distribution centers to facilitate proper airflow and temperature control. When you’re designing your system, there are some best practices you should adhere to, which include the following:

  • Turn off unnecessary heat sources during daylight hours
  • Bring in portable fans to improve airflow
  • Open screened windows at night to let in cooler air
  • Focus on removing hot air throughout the day with the use of multiple vents
  • Consider painting the warehouse roof white to reflect the heat away from your building
  • Install multiple destratification fans to remove warm air
  • Add insulation
  • Get rid of toxic fumes
  • Maintain proper humidity levels, which should be around 40-50% RH
Ventilation Install

Future Trends and Innovations

Emerging technologies are being introduced regularly in the warehouse ventilation space. The latest systems focus on sustainability. To implement green ventilation in your warehouse, select systems designed with sustainability in mind. For example, the green ventilation requirements for fans are:

  • No belt drives
  • No rare-earth magnets
  • AMCA lab-tested
  • Modern AC or EC motor technology

The latest technologies in industrial ventilation include the following:

  • Efficient fan designs that consume very little energy
  • Customized fan solutions for optimal performance
  • Smart ventilation systems
  • Noise reduction technologies
  • A hybrid system that combines mechanical and natural ventilation
  • Ventilation options for hazardous environments

Conclusion

To keep your personnel healthy and productive, proper warehouse ventilation is essential. With the right amount of ventilation, the air will contain fewer contaminants. Your personnel may develop respiratory conditions and other health issues if the air is polluted. Mold growth may also occur when ventilation is poor. If you’re designing a ventilation system in your warehouse, choose the components and type of airflow most effective for your space and the items you store.

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