Industries that demand year-round strict control of moisture rely on dedicated dehumidification systems. These systems offer the ability to strictly control relative humidity limiting the effects of condensation, mold and mildew that may damage materials or products.
The summer season normally is complicated with the presence of excessive unwanted moisture in the air. Public buildings and buildings that bring in outdoor air as part of their process are adversely affected. Air conditioning, when available, only goes so far in offering an appropriate level of moisture control. While air conditioning does remove some moisture from the air, it at the same time lowers the room temperature thus raising the room relative humidity often further complicating the problem.
With the right precautions, however, any manufacturer can overcome the difficulties caused by sudden spikes in humidity and ensure product integrity.
Common Challenges Caused by Excessive Humidity
In many industries, increases in building moisture interfere with the equipment’s ability to function properly. Without proper humidity control, excess environmental moisture contributes to:
- Unexpected downtime
- Defective products
- Damaged raw materials
- Financial losses
Moisture poses unique risks to industrial environments. The following examples will demonstrate the need for advanced humidity control in these operations.
Food & Beverage
Uncontrolled humidity in the manufacturing environment has catastrophic consequences for food and beverage operations. The storage of sensitive items, in particular—such as food products and powders which are hygroscopic in nature—requires strict environmental controls, lest uncontrolled humidity spoil products.
Overly damp environments increase the risks for development of mold, mildew, or other harmful microorganisms. In addition, the packaging machinery used for many food products can get clogged from clumped up powders or other food items that have absorbed too much moisture. This leads to equipment damage over time, and may result in unsellable product in the short-term.
Strict moisture control is critical for industrial and commercial printing operations. Humidity, both high or low, impacts print-quality since paper absorbs moisture from its surrounding environment and can change dimensions. When this happens registry is affected causing a poor quality product.
Excessive moisture has a negative impact on the quality of raw materials and machined components. Most parts must be machined or ground before protective coatings are applied. Risks for machine shops include:
- Raw materials and unfinished parts may be subject to corrosion.
- Floors and metal grating may become slippery from condensation.
- Cooling electric motors will draw in moisture, which will compromise the integrity of machine components.
- Electrical panels, when cooling down, draw in moisture causing short circuits or limit component service life.
Plastic Injection Molding
The molds used in plastic injection molding must remain dry and below the dew point. If the surrounding environment is overly humid, condensation will settle on machinery and chilled mold surfaces. This will ultimately impact the chemical makeup of the molten plastic and result in defective final products.
With proper dehumidification equipment, industrial environments can successfully control the relative humidity of their facilities and mitigate the risk of associated problems caused by excess moisture. Here are a few best practices to consider when designing your dehumidification strategy:
- Relative Humidity Levels
In general, indoor relative humidity should be held at 50% or lower unless specific application circumstances call for greater or lower humidity levels. Most manufacturers maintain an ideal humidity level by installing dedicated recirculating dehumidification systems.
- Recirculating Dehumidifiers
Recirculating dehumidifiers cool incoming moisture-laden air to its dew point as it travels through a cold evaporator coil, resulting in the removal of water from the air. This cool dry air next enters a warm condenser coil allowing for a warmer, drier air back to the room. When coupled with an optional remote condenser the system can deliver cool or warm dry air as needed.
- Food Products
Packaging foods or powders in permeable, semi-permeable, or non-permeable materials also make a sizeable difference. If a company is manufacturing a hygroscopic product such as powdered food, for instance, it should be stored in non-permeable materials. ASHRAE formulas can be used to determine the size of the dehumidification system needed to provide a safe indoor climate suitable for manufacturing and storage.
- Outdoor Air
In addition to these methods, 100% outdoor air dehumidification systems can be employed if the air in a given space is contaminated by unwanted outside moisture from RTU’s or make-up air from an exhaust system. This process entails removing unwanted moist air through the use of a 100% outdoor air dehumidifier before it enters the building. The 100% outdoor dehumidifier separates most of the moisture from the outdoor make-up air and then mixes with the interior building air. The recirculating dehumidifier then removes whatever moisture is needed to provide the desired dew point for the project.
Dehumidification Systems from DCA
With the right equipment, it’s possible to operate a warehouse, manufacturing facility, or any other industrial structure with a climate perfectly suited for the products and people inside it at any time of the year. With years of experience in the industry, the team of Dehumidification Specialists at Dehumidifier Corporation of America (DCA) is ready to solve any moisture challenge you might face.