By Gerry Flores
Improve Facility Operations
With A Fabric Retrofit
If cleanliness is next to godliness, food facilities should be a place the gods would frequent. When it comes to
food manufacturing, being clean comes
with the territory. But can you remember
the last time your metal ducts were
Food manufacturing facilities don’t
only need to regulate microbial growth,
temperature and humidity levels more
rigorously than most industries, they
also need to ensure the HVAC diffusion
system responsible for moving air
throughout the facility remains clean
while staying effective.
Many operations and facilities in
the food industry lend themselves to
a retrofitting project involving fabric
air diffuser systems that generally
offer cleaner solutions and additional
operational efficiency when compared to
alternative options. They typically can do
it for less cost than their traditional metal
ductwork counterparts, too.
If your metal ducts aren’t performing
the way you want, are starting to show
rust from years of condensation, are
difficult to clean or are not properly
balanced, a fabric diffuser retrofit might
be in your future.
One of the first — and most
important — considerations in a retrofit
project is installation. Is it logistically
possible in this facility? Are the costs
reasonable? These basic questions narrow
the list of solutions.
Fabric diffusers typically score well
in these categories and it’s part of the
reason why food manufacturing facilities
have been using them for more than 40
years. Metal ducts, which are typically
more expensive than fabric, are about 90
percent heavier than fabric and therefore
also more expensive to ship.
Another advantage to the lightweight
composition of fabric ductwork systems
is that installation time is drastically
reduced. The labor time need to install
insulated/double-wall spiral metal
ducts might be 10 times longer than
Metal ductwork generally needs power
lift equipment, which requires facility
equipment, processes and other obstacles
to be shifted or re-organized during
installation. This hassle can bog down
operations for days.
In contrast, most fabric diffusers can
be installed by two people using ladders.
This makes it much easier to work around
equipment and normal plant operations
during installation, even when lengthy
runs are being hung.
Smaller sections of fabric use zippered
fitting to form longer routes. Additionally,
fabric can use stainless steel hanging to
keep operations as clean as possible.
Fabric Delivers An
Of course, easy installation isn’t the
only consideration when retrofitting a
new duct system in a food manufacturing
facility. If it doesn’t do the job, it’s not
worth anything. Fabric diffusers can do
the job and they do it efficiently.
Unlike metal ducts, an entire run of
fabric acts as a diffuser. This allows a
facility to provide targeted, precise and
efficient air dispersion throughout the
length of their path. In contrast, standard
metal ductwork using localized diffusers
spaced many feet apart can create hot
and cold spots along the length of the
system. Fabric diffusers use various
methods to achieve this uniformity,
including: air porous fabrics, linear vents,
nozzles and orifices.
Air dispersion is nearly 25 percent
more efficient in fabric diffusers than
metal ductwork. This allows them to heat
(or cool) rooms faster, which increases
energy savings by reducing the runtime of
Fabric diffuser systems offer installation, performance and efficiency benefits
Fabric diffusers can readily replace existing metal ductwork in a retrofit
project and provide customized air dispersion that delivers optimal air flow
across the entire run.