Aren’t you glad they are gone for another six months? Business is slow and the heat is suffocating. The longer I am on earth the more amazed I am that the majority of plants I visit still have hot, miserable plants in the summer. There simply isn’t enough airflow. Where there is airflow, it is hot and humid air. As we plan through the fall, winter and spring we should keep an eye out for making these plants more comfortable.
“But We Open The Front And Back Doors!”
Yes, I know, it’s a hot business, always was. Some owners aren’t cut out to be good builders and sadly enough, many professional builders are not good either. Few, if any, keep an eye towards any comfort for the workers. Too may steps for movement, too little airflow, too few hanging lines for hangers/garments which requires moving of items around by hand. Leaving room for the consideration that many are stuck with little space to live and work in. There is still room for much improvement. Leaving the back and front door open is not enough for airflow and certainly doesn’t make for cool air! OSHA requires an exchange of air every five minutes. They don’t care if it is hot or cold air!
The greatest percentage of plants in the U.S. and Canada utilize fans for coolness. About 5% have nothing and surely qualify for “sweat plants”! Currently about 50% of all plants have air conditioning! Changes are happening. Space or mobile swamp coolers are nice. In a remote, back place in the plant where some have their laundry equipment (a mistake since they put off the most heat and should be near a door, preferably a LARGE door), you will especially need these portable coolers in that area.
“Employee Morale Is Important”
It always amazed me that few will bother to pipe the air directly over the workers. Very little cost involved. Like company picnics, birthday parties and “pizza days,” cool comfortable plants are good for morale. Everything cannot be just numbers, numbers, numbers; production, production, production. Somewhere in the mix, there should be some room for company and employee morale. Why the simple creature comforts to offset miserable heat conditions for a few months out of the year escapes owners, is to me a mystery and forever a voice in the wilderness.
“I Have Advice For Those Who Cannot Afford To Build A Plant The Way It Should Be – Don’t Get Into The Business!”
Plant builders who think they know what it is like to be back there all day long floor me too. Few builders will go beyond conventional building plans and do something innovative for once. I would suggest any plant owner and/or builder to invest in someone who can advise them and the builder on what a “comfortable working plant” should be built like. It is a simple and inexpensive investment of time and money. Your employees will appreciate you more for it down the road. I understand that cost is a factor when folks come into this business with a shoestring budget and not allow for anything other than “turnkey” operations pre-priced. I have a suggestion: Don’t get into this business unless you have a surplus of money. You will need it!
“Find A Way To Think And Work Outside The Box… The Hot Box”
One good way to stay ahead of the heat game in the summer, which a lot of large industrial plants do…is be finished with production by noon. Start very, very early. With the steam off by noon or early, the CSR’s and employees can finish bagging, filing, etc., in a cooler environment, and save utility costs. Another fallacy is that swamp coolers are useless. Not so, if the water going through them is refrigerated. I have been in plants in the hottest regions of California and Arizona in the summer when it was 120º outside but was still a nice and cool seventy degrees inside. It can be done with a little imagination and mechanical ability.
Nothing comes free and “if you want the meat, you have to take the fat!” So, belly up to the bar and wager how you might make your plant more reasonably comfortable before next summer. Ask an efficiency expert from the utility company or a cooling company to look at your operation and make some suggestions. I don’t pretend to be scientific here or pose as a cooling expert. I will leave that to the experts. I can tell you with confidence though that my travels across the world prove that not all plants are miserable in the summer. A good manager and owner will be sensitive to this and plan better – or maybe you already have!
I’m headin’ to the wagon now, these boots are killin’ me!