Fans help manufacturer weather sub-zero winters
September 01, 2012 - MMH Editorial
Old Town manufactures and sells canoes, kayaks and accessories worldwide. Several years ago, the company moved out of its century-old, multistory building and into a new 136,000-square-foot production facility. Heating the large facility proved costly during the long Maine winters, when the area’s average low temperature is well below freezing.
Following the move to the new facility, Old Town realized the difficulty of keeping workers warm near the docks.
“A lot of heat was being trapped in the ceiling,” says Eric Schmidt, engineering manager for Old Town. “The temperature in the mezzanine was 85 degrees. We were basically burning up a whole lot of fuel to heat the ceiling.”
The factory also has a break area near a line of giant natural gas fired ovens, in which aluminum boat molds create the hulls of molded canoes and kayaks. While the temperature neared 85 degrees near the ceiling, the break room itself could be as cool as 60 degrees.
After installing two high-volume fans (Kelley, kelley.4frontes.com), the company enjoys year-round comfort that keeps employees comfortable and production steady.
“We discovered fans could balance out our heating and cooling load,” says Schmidt. “We brought in one as a pilot for the loading dock area. The results were evident right away, and Old Town quickly installed a second one over the break area.
The heater is activated by a sensor, and thanks to the fans, it runs less often. The fans also eliminate stagnant air and create a pleasant breeze in the summer heat, says Schmidt. They are set to run at 30% in the winter, and 70% in the summer. Even at the higher speed, the even air flow does not blow papers around or create any other distractions. “The fans basically always get the temperature right,” says Schmidt.
Schmidt estimates that the two fans have reduced heating costs by roughly 15%. There are plans for additional fans projected to reduce heating costs by 20%. Schmidt says the fans are forecast to pay for themselves in the first year.