Plant & Works Engineering
Humidity control – a necessity not a luxury
Published:  18 May, 2020

PWE spoke to Lindsey Henderson*, sales director Humidity Solutions, about the benefits of humidity control.

Anywhere where a controlled environment is needed in order for a production to take place Lindsey Henderson, sales director at Humidity Solutions, says people will contact the company to help solve their humidity problems – be it production problems, static problems sometimes even health problems.

Production solutions

Quite often manufacturers come to the company for production issues explains Lindsey. For example, she highlights how dry air in the printing industry can cause paper curl, web breaks and static build up; issues that are ever more regular in the winter months. When spooling the paper, printing presses may generate electrostatic charges, this can then mean that the pages become hard to separate.

The optimum humidity for printing and paper storage conditions should be between 50-60% RH. Issues that can occur if the relative humidity is not at the correct level include:

Paper can be misfed and creasing may occur, as in dry conditions moisture is drawn from the exposed surfaces of the stacks of paper. This means that tight edges can occur as the exposed edges shrink.

Paper sizes can also transform and this would in turn affect how the colours line up in printing runs of two or more colour processes.

Once the humidity solution has been applied the separation of sheets of paper is improved, paper curl is avoided and productivity increases. The machinery will be able to work at a higher speed as the feed will be more efficient as less paper will be rejected.

She explains that humidity control is extremely important to prevent any changes in the product and prevent any issues within manufacturing wherever it may be – be it is printed circuit boards or within the food industry where the company deals with specific food products such as charcuterie. For this sector the humidity has to be controlled to prevent the process from happening to quickly and in some instances Humidity Solutions provides equipment to both humidify and dehumidify  drying and curing rooms to ensure they maintain 60 to 70% relative humidity while removing moisture from the product.

Health benefits

But many companies do not realise the additional benefits of humidity control for people. She explains that humidity is an important contributor to indoor air quality that can impact negatively on health and productivity of your staff. This can in turn have a big impact on absenteeism, and staff turnover.

A common problem of low humidity, Lindsey explains, can result in eyes becoming itchy, and contact lens wearers finding it very uncomfortable. Therefore a good level of humidity can prevent dry eyes, sore throats and reduce the spread of air borne viruses thereby reducing sick leave and improving productivity.

Lindsey says that often humidifiers are value engineered out of the comfort of the office for example because it can still be seen as a luxury. She explains that Humidity Solution is working very closely with FETA – The Federation of Environmental Trade Associations - to try and change legislation. She says there is now a lot more information in the market about indoor air quality because just to condition the air forheating and cooling isn’t actually conditioning the air: “Air conditioning can actually dry the air out and make it very unhealthy. Properly conditioned air is also humidity controlled or else we are just comfort cooling.”

Lindsey further explains that there is a big drive within the industry to inform about indoor air quality: “Often with humidification and dehumidification we have to explain to people what the problem is they have.” For industries that don’t know the importance of humidity control Lindsey says it is her job to tell them and to explain the benefits of a better controlled environment, including increased production; less downtime; as well as the benefits to staff health. ROI Lindsey also highlights that ROI for humidity control can be shown for many applications. For production for example she says that it can be measured by calculating downtime as a consequence of low humidity and static causing a problem with your machines or your feed, or your dryer causing a problem with shrinkage of your product. In this respect she says the company can very easily equate this to a monetary value at the end and show ROI.

It is very easy, she adds, to show and do the maths - for big print works it takes hours to change the feeds and the reels on the printing presses as a consequence of a problem. She adds that things that people maybe don’t see and understand about humidity control is that it is very common if you humidify a building correctly you can often reduce the temperature by one or two degrees, because itis the perceived effect of humidity control: “When the air is very dry the moisture evaporates from our skin and that makes us feel very cold.” So what people do, explains Lindsey, is put the heating up because they feel cold when they aren’t and this further exacerbates the problem and reduces the humidity even more. So by humidifying to the right comfortable environment (between 50- 60%), Lindsey explains that you can often reduce the temperature of a building. And consequently, by reducing the temperature by two degrees of a large building is a huge amount of savings for the comparatively small cost of installing humidification.

Therefore Lindsey highlights that the business case for humidity control is overwhelming for many industrial environments and ultimately should not be looked upon as a luxury but instead should be seen as a necessity for helping to reduce preventable downtime and maintaining production as well as worker health. For further information please visit: Do you need a quick and easy monitoring solution? +44 (0) 1285 359059 Gather the information you need. Our self-installed, remote monitoring solution can be up and running within minutes Humidity Solutions Ltd was established

Humidity Solutions Ltd was established in October 2008 in response to the market need for a dedicated specialist in humidity control, providing the widest range of quality reliable humidifiers and dehumidifiers married to years of application knowledge. As a market leader within its specialist field it has a strategy to minimise its environmental impact by education and offering alternative low energy solutions to the more traditional high energy usage equipment more commonly used. Based in Leatherhead, Surrey, Humidity Solutions sources humidifiers and dehumidifers from some of the best manufacturers around the world, including Neptronic, Devatec, Airtec, DT Group and Hidros.

* Lindsey Henderson, sales director at Humidity Solutions, has over 30 years experience in the industry, with particular specialism in the detailed design of Humidification systems and adiabatic cooling projects.