A gentle breeze makes all the difference for brick producer

High-volume fans reduce condensation, prevent mold and speed brick production.

By ·

Kentucky-based Owensboro Brick & Tile produces 30 to 35 million bricks annually. When condensation and moisture buildup began to severely impact product integrity, the company installed a series of fans to keep air moving in its production facility. The result improved health and safety for workers while boosting production speed.

The staging area holds 300,000 to 400,000 bricks at a time as they dry out before going into the kiln. “We have to get a certain percentage of moisture out of the brick before we can fire it,” explains plant manager Mark Sexton. As one set of bricks would come out the kiln, the steam would keep the area hot and perpetually wet, negatively affecting the dryers. Sexton says they tried using numerous small fans to clear the moist air, but the steam kept all surfaces covered in a fine layer of slick water and clay.

The company considered both dehumidification systems and heating systems. However, the cost of these approaches for the company’s large industrial space was impractical.

Instead, four 16-foot diameter high-volume, low-speed fans (Big Ass Fans, bigassfans.com) were installed to evenly distribute humidity in the air. The fans improve air circulation and aid in the evaporation of moisture from the bricks waiting to be fired, while also dissipating heat and moisture from the steaming bricks coming out of the kiln. The large size of the fans paired with their slow speed equates to a larger volume of air being moved without disrupting the workplace.

“These fans are helping the dryer out, to get the moisture out of the brick,” Sexton says. “So it’s actually letting me run our kilns a little faster to get more product out.” The same air movement that boosts product integrity also helps curb condensation issues that negatively affect employee safety, the most common of which are wet floors and mold/mildew growth.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Mobile Solutions: Improving Supply Chain Efficiencies
To meet customer's ever-increasing service expectations and improve their business efficiency, companies are looking to their supply chain operations – especially material handling and warehouse operations managers.
Download Today!
From the January 2017 Issue
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using labor more productively. The bottom line: A two-year ROI.
Double Up on Labor Efficiencies
7 Warehouse E-commerce Best Practices for 2017
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Using AGVs at LEDVANCE
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using...
System Report: Sustainable Distribution at REI
Specialty outdoor retailer REI’s new distribution center brings together the next generation of...

System Report: Whirpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...
Modern Materials Handling’s 2017 Casebook Collection
The 2017 Casebook features more than 35 case studies that put the spotlight on successful innovation...