panies can achieve significant energy savings by pushing the clean air back into
the facility a;er it is filtered (see Figure 3). They take advantage of heating or
cooling capabilities that wouldn’t exist if the dirty air were vented outside.
A push/pull system also creates air movement in the facility. When dirty air is
pulled out and not pushed back in, the manufacturing facility su;ers from stagnant air and limited airflow. Dirty air gets sucked in near the vents or ducts, but
there is no air movement to push the dirty air from the rest of the area toward
Such a stagnant environment also caters to the creation of negative indoor
air pressure. Evidence of such an environment are exterior doors that are difficult to open and close and odors such as li; truck exhaust that linger. Negative
indoor air pressure also allows carbon monoxide or other dangerous gases to
This push/pull system can accommodate a typical fabrication shop with welding areas,
presses, cutting tables, and other dust and fume generators. Localized source capture
near those dust- and fume-producing areas is not required.
Ambient air systems that remove dirty air from the shop, filter it, and return it to the
facility supplement the building’s heating and cooling by recycling the conditioned
air instead of just venting it outside.
The facility should always maintain the same overall pressure as the ambient
air (unless it’s designed otherwise). With a push/pull system, airflow in and out
maintains consistent ambient pressure, and a negative air pressure situation is
avoided. Without a push/pull system, a metal fabricator may have to purchase
additional air makeup HVAC units to pull in outside air to prevent developing
negative pressure in the building.
A Beneficial Bottom Line
A modular ambient system provides the flexibility that many metal manufacturers are looking for. A large central ambient air system is more e;icient and
requires less maintenance than a modular system, but the large system simply
may be too expensive for some companies or too much for a manufacturer with
a lot of production variation in its operations.
With either type of ambient air system, the push/pull approach keeps the air
very clean and prevents dust from accumulating anywhere in the facility. It creates a clean and safe working environment, which is helpful in boosting productivity and employee morale.
Jeremiah Wann is president and CEO, Imperial Systems Inc., 724-662-2801,
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