Humility, Cultural Recruiting & Morning Meetings

A Four Part Series

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Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2017 issue of Target, an AME Publication.
Authored by Lea Tonkin

Part Three of a Four Part Series. Miss Parts One and Two? Click Here to Read!

 

Humility

The culture at Cambridge reflects a unique perspective on pursuing humility. From the president to the front line worker, people share a consistent theme of humility as something to strive for instead of something to endure.

“Humility is part of the beauty of working here and part of what attracted me,” said Meg Brown, human resources director. “You are asked to make improvements and share them with videos. It’s empowering to be able to say, ‘I made a difference today.”

“No task is too small,” added Brown. Leadership and others from throughout the company voluntarily share the task for cleaning bathrooms, for example – reflecting humility and ownership.

Cultural recruiting

Cultural recruiting – attracting potential employees who will support the Cambridge collaborative approach – is crucial to the company’s long-term success. “We attract people who enjoy being problem solvers, and being given the ability to make changes,” Brown said. “This gives us a huge competitive advantage in this tight labor marker.”

Cambridge Engineering’s employee turnover rate is 12.7%, including seasonal workers. “This is ‘sticky’ in a good way,” Brown said. “People like the freedom to change things that bug them, and to be supported in their work environment.” Brown added that training and development investment will continue to evolve, as Cambridge leadership continues to strive for organizational health and alignment in all areas.

Morning Meetings – cultural glue

Finding frequent opportunities to celebrate employees and their improvement ideas, and to grow leaders, is key to building lean capabilities at Cambridge. All-company 15-minute meetings are held daily at 8:30 am. “The morning meeting provides an enormous opportunity for growth across the company,” said Bruce Kisslinger, Jr., director of manufacturing. Meetings are led by a different employee volunteer every day; more than 50 percent of the workforce step into this role.

The meetings start with stretching and the leader sharing anything they would like to with everyone in the company. Then employees share gratitude for anything that brings job to employees. Anyone can grab the microphone and share; many do. Next, videos created the day before are viewed and everyone claps as employees courageously share their attempt to improve their processes. Finally, company announcements and company metrics for safety, quality, delivery and revenue are covered. Outsiders are encouraged to experience these high-energy meetings first-hand.

Learn through exposure (benchmarking)

Mike Taylor, who works in pre-paint, is a volunteer member of the Cambridge External Lean Exposure Team. “About ten of us are on the team,” Taylor said. “We are in charge of finding other companies doing lean, where we can learn from them. Our goal is 100 percent external opportunities (every Cambridge employee visiting at least one other facility) by May 2018; we’re now at about 70 percent.

“We try to take one nugget from every place we visit – something we can use in our lean projects,” added Taylor. “For example, one of the main things we focus on is visual cues throughout the plant – labeled parts, visual cues for replacing parts so that you can go ahead and order parts while you keep working. We bring back ideas to our team, and if it’s low-cost and not affecting safety or quality, we can implement changes ourselves. We have the freedom to make our lives easier.”

Part Four of this Series will be released on Wednesday, January 24th! Make sure to check back to finish the series!

Great People, Ideas, Processes and Products

A Four Part Series

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Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2017 issue of Target, an AME Publication.
Authored by Lea Tonkin

Part Two of a Four Part Series. Miss Part One? Click Here to Read!

 

Great People, Ideas, Processes and Products

“For us, lean is about people and people growth,” said Sitton. “It’s not something that is simply implemented. You can’t just drop it on people.” Key elements in creating lean understanding include lean classes for all new hires using “2 Second Lean” as a guide, and then taking them out to the shop floor and asking them to stand there and look for the eight types of waste. “Within ten minutes, they typically see 20 to 50 wastes,” Sitton said.

The company also gives employee time on the clock to read “2 Second Lean” and to discuss the book in a team setting, encouraging employees to “go and see” waste and to develop remedies for eliminating waste in their work areas. “With ‘two-second lean,’ you have simplicity, breaking things down so everybody can make a great process and a great product,” said Sitton.

This expectation reflects a significant transition from Cambridge’s initial lean efforts, when senior leadership and engineers usually initiated lean improvements. “That idea only works for owners of the company,” said Sitton. “We realized that we needed more people who buy into the culture, with a sense of ownership. Now we develop people with a sense of trust, who are able to see waste and fix what’s bugging them, and they now all respond as owners.”

Fast start for new employees

New employees are encouraged to jump right into lean improvements at Cambridge. Justin Meade, a general laborer who works on wiring panels,said he got started with innovative changes in the first week after he joined the company, about two and a half years ago.

“When I first started an assembly job, it wasn’t very fun,” said Meade. “Then, after seeing some others’ videos, I started on improvements – first, a small project, putting tools that were scattered all over onto a shadow board.” Over a period of six months, Meade developed a cart furnished with parts, plus a trash can and tools needed to eliminate wasted movement and space during his daily tasks. He made videos of several improvement iterations, modifying and later eliminating the old cart. Along the way, he got help from a sheet metal team member, a welder and others in creating the new cart. Now, everything that’s needed, tools and parts, is in one area. “It used to take an hour and a half to do a particular job. Now the process takes 20 to 25 minutes a unit,” said Meade. “I just went ahead with it, after talking with my team lead, Scott Moore, who encouraged me to make the changes.”

Meade said he continues to gain improvement ideas and inspiration from participation in morning employee meetings. “I like that everyone here updated about how the company is doing financially. We’re also encouraged to give input on company goals,” he said.

“Lean and clean time” – about a half hour from 8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. every day, is when every employee is encouraged to scout for improvement ideas. It also provides opportunities for “finding out what bugs us most and then fixing it,” said Meade.

Part Three of this Series will be released on Thursday, January 18th! Make sure to check back to finish the series!

Growing, Engaging People Every Day In Lean

A Four Part Series

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Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2017 issue of Target, an AME Publication.
Authored by Lea Tonkin

Cambridge Engineering employees are growing even faster than the company

Inspiring stories about lean and enterprise-wide transformation can sometimes seem too good to be true. This is the feeling Marc Braun, president of Cambridge Engineering, Inc. in Chesterfield, Missouri has about the company’s cultural transformation during the past several years. “It is incredibly humbling to walk into the plant and see how our people are growing and how much joy lean has brought into their lives,” Braun said. “You wouldn’t believe it unless you experienced it for yourself.”

The family-owned heating and ventilation system manufacturing company is known for high-quality products and a strong family culture. What’s happening now, through lean, is different. John Kramer, Jr., chairman and CEO, shared, “People know me as a being a big dreamer, but the impact our people at Cambridge are making in others’ lives exceeds my wildest dreams. I believe the journey we are on is one that will ultimately restore glory and dignity to manufacturing in America.”

Introducing lean concepts in the plant more than ten years ago seemed a logical step to Kramer. Many experts said to start with 5S improvement projects, train the workforce on Japanese terms, and then add a host of metrics and plan white boards – adding to the mix of daily priorities. Although some progress was made during this time, it was top-down driven and merely tolerated rather than embraced by employees. “There were too many metrics, and there was too much focus on cost rather than on people,” Kramer noted. “Our busy season (fall through January) would hit, and I would tell my people to stop improvements and ship products. All of our lean principles would go out the window, as people didn’t have time to make improvements. Although I had a glimpse of the vision of a lean culture, many times it felt like we were going backward rather than forward.”

Staying focused: A Turning Point

After working with an executive coach and following the plan for organizational health described in Patrick Lencioni’s book, “The Advantage,” Kramer determined that his leadership was the biggest challenge and barrier to making the cultural changes he envisioned in the company. “I would whipsaw the organization in a million directions without giving them the chance to make progress,” he said. “Once I stopped and allowed the team to focus on the key areas for success, and develop a rhythm and pace, the cultural progress started to come alive.”

During this period of growth, operational team members came back after a lean benchmarking trip to FastCap Paul Akers’ facility in Washington state. “They were excited about his book, ‘2 Second Lean,” Kramer said. “They had met with Paul and learned that you can take something complex and make it simple- a way for people to make improvements and prosper. We starting making simple improvements, opening up more dialog with our employees. The concept was embraced by our organizational leadership and also resonated with me and our executive team members, because it focused on people growth and engagement. Because it was so simple to understand and was people-focused, the team was able to quickly share with others inside the company, and we haven’t looked back since.” Akers strongly encourages readers to start their lean journey by learning to see waste, allowing people to “fix what bugs them,” and then to make short videos for sharing improvements with others.

“I remember how excited our leaders became about the concepts taught in “2 Second Lean.” Their courage to try something new and experiment with videos was amazing,” said Braun, who was the executive vice president of sales and marketing at the time. “Our marketing department had utilized video sparingly. We had a collection of several videos reflecting the “Cambridge Story,” and little presence on YouTube. The company now has more than 4,300 videos created by employees, demonstrating their genius. It has been like pouring gasoline on a fire.” Here’s where employees shine, as they share one-minute videos they’ve made about recent improvements. Sometimes there are accounts of rapid changes to eliminate wasted steps or prevent over-reaching at a work station, for example; or there may be videos reflecting several improvements over an extended period of time. “Making videos of your improvements helps to reinforce that you are making a contribution, “ said Greg Sitton, plant manager. Every employee is encouraged to make one-minute videos. Although some associates readily take to the camera, others need help and teammates step in to capture the improvements.

To see an associate video, click here.

Stay tuned for the next installment to be published January 16th!  

Creative Emceeing Makes the Morning Meeting Much More Fun!

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Part of the personal growth effort of Cambridge includes encouraging each employee to feel more confident speaking in front of a large group and other public speaking opportunities. The “practice” of this improvement comes in the form of taking turns to Emcee the morning meeting that we hold out in the shop every day. Each Emcee can speak to whatever they’d like as the group stretches – some take the chance to talk about their families or hometowns, others give trivia and yet, others – like Steve, our Controller – take the opportunity to be creative.

Watch the video below to see how Steve used his introduction time!

The PACE program is a great way to pay for energy efficient HVAC upgrades.

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Saving energy is not only good for the environment, but is good for a business. A couple of years ago I was introduced to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program here in MO. I believe the financial benefits of the PACE program, especially from a financing perspective, are not well known among Controllers and CFO’s.


Basically, the program provides a unique financing program for clean energy retrofits, allowing the upgrades to be financed through property taxes. In the case of our project several years ago, a $600,000 retrofit for lighting, roofing and HVAC upgrades, the advantages were:• Ease of qualification. Working with a consulting firm that specializes in PACE financing, the process was fast and simple.

  • 100% financing. We were able to finance the entire amount of our project.
  • Stand-alone financing. The PACE financing had no impact on our already existing term debt, availability of our working capital line-of-credit, or our borrowing covenants with our lender.
  • Repayment. The loan is re-payed through a property tax assessment, allowing us to extend the loan time frame (10 years) over the normal 5 year balloon for maintenance capital financing.
  • Transferable. If we ever sell the building, the loan accompanies the building, as it is part of the property tax assessment.

We are a growing company, and are constantly evaluating the best way to deploy our working capital. In the case of PACE, it allowed us to make some critical building improvements without impacting the availability of that working capital to fund our future growth. If you are considering energy retrofits for lighting, HVAC or building envelope, I would strongly encourage looking into PACE.

Making SAFETY a Priority

Sharing our LEAN SAFETY Playlist to Inspire a Safer Working Environment

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A few months ago – we realized that we were missing out on an instrumental LEAN Principle: continuously improving the safety of our best problem solvers (our employees). That said, we had been tracking safety issues and conducting Root Cause Analyses when needed, along with reporting at our morning meeting what had happened and what solution was being applied. But something was missing.

Our employees identify LEAN opportunities and make videos to show to the company every day. Their ideas are so creative and effective, which, in turn, inspire others to think about how they could apply these and other ideas to their work station and processes. Naturally, some videos started to turn toward LEAN applications that were to help with SAFETY along with productivity – and a light bulb clicked. Once we realized that we had room for improvement, we started to encourage workers to consider what could make their work station and our community areas have a lesser chance of hazard for themselves and others. Some improvements are as simple as cleaning off an overhead shelf so that they couldn’t possibly fall on somebody and some as complex as creating new processes with additional checkpoints.

Below is a playlist of our LEAN SAFETY videos that we share in hopes that you might find something applicable at your company – whether that be the initiative in general or a specific idea. We are seeing new ideas every day, meaning Cambridge is becoming a safer work environment, and that is a win for everybody.

 

Restoring Glory and Dignity to U.S. Manufacturing

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For those of us working in an office, a manufacturing plant, a warehouse or a commercial retail environment, we spend about 2,350  hours a year at work.    As you reflect on your own working hours annually, think about how that might compare to the time you get to spend with your family.   For the M-F working adult, this generally leaves about 2,350 hours with your family after work M-F and Saturday-Sunday to be present as a father, mother, sister, brother, daughter or son.  While the percentages may vary greatly by individual, the amount of time one spends at work is significant.  Being fulfilled at work through accomplishment and influence has been shown to translate into positive energy at home.  Conversely, plodding, struggling and frustration at work without influence to make needed changes, results in people carrying negative energy and stress home to their families and or friends.

 

Cambridge Engineering, Inc. exists to glorify God by enriching the life of every person we touch.   We are working hard to build a better experience for people that we meet each day at work, whether that is an internal team member, a customer, a service support vendor or a supplier.   When people go home from work fulfilled they can be better fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons.   Healthy families contribute to healthy communities and healthy communities will lead to a more healthy country.

John Kramer, Jr., Cambridge’s CEO, speaks frequently on this message of glory and dignity in the factory and it really resonates with me.  I’ve been witness to a transformation in people engagement at Cambridge Engineering, Inc. and it started with a group of committed people on the production floor.   With some help from a mentor, Paul Akers, and a highly energized group of manufacturing companies across the U.S., Cambridge was encouraged to learn about how to eliminate struggles in the plant.  Our 2-Second Lean journey (Paul Akers) gained incredible momentum due to the simplicity of the message and it’s foundations in humility.  It was sustainable because of the sincerity of our manager’s, leader’s and owner’s commitment to enrich the lives of the people we touch.

Two years ago there were no fancy top down internal marketing campaigns to pitch the problem solving process to the organization.   Through a small group of committed production and supply chain leaders, a continuous improvement mindset and total employee engagement process was born.   This small team set the foundation that literally created energy, excitement, exploration, creativity and inspiration within the factory and across all departments.  Cambridge has now documented with video, nearly 4,000 improvements.

I can say without hesitation that during my 4 years, the Cambridge organization has significantly contributed to my being a better husband, father, brother and son.   Knowing that the work that we are doing here in Chesterfield, MO supports better environments for people across North America working in the warehouse and manufacturing segments is highly motivating.  We are definitely not short on the things we need to accomplish across the sales, marketing and service organization. Operating in this type of environment makes everything flow better.  Unconditional love for who people are (not what they do) and high performance expectations are woven into the culture.

Cambridge Engineering, Inc. exists to enrich the lives of everyone we come in contact with.     We do this by making commercial and industrial HVAC equipment to improve lives.  Supporting building owners and facility leaders that desire glory and dignity at work is very cool!

About Cambridge Engineering, Inc…..

For more than 50 years, Cambridge Engineering, Inc. has been committed to enriching the lives of its people, customers and suppliers through the design, manufacture and application of space heating, ventilation (make-up air) and cooling products in commercial and industrial facilities.  Cambridge Engineering’s 120-employee operation and its network of 400-plus sales representatives have been helping manufacturers, distribution business owners and operators, facility managers, design engineers and mechanical contractors to create better indoor working environments through even temperatures and improved indoor air quality (IAQ) in warehouses, sports facilities and other high-bay spaces. The company has invested heavily in research and development to offer HTHV (high temperature heating and ventilation) products that significantly save energy and reduce operating costs. Whether in new construction or existing facility retrofits, Cambridge Engineering’s Made-To-Order design, fabrication and testing process ensures that each HVAC system is certified safe with unsurpassed product quality.

With more than 37,000 system installations and 2.5 billion square feet of buildings served, Cambridge celebrates its customers’ commitment to an improved working environment for people on the factory or warehouse floor. Cambridge is an active member of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance, an initiative of manufacturers and businesses dedicated to reducing energy consumption in commercial spaces. Cambridge is headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri.  www.cambridge-eng.com.

Choosing the Right Heating System for your Facility

Understanding the Pros and Cons of Each System Can Help You Avoid Poor IAQ and Unnecessary Cost

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Is the heating bill for your plant or warehouse too high? What about cold dock door areas and unbalanced temperatures? Is negative building pressure a problem? Do your employees complain about it being too cold making it harder for them to do their job? Do you have high maintenance costs from existing heating equipment?

These are just a few common problems that result from selecting the wrong heating system, misplacing your heaters so they can’t reach their full potential or using obsolete technology. What factors determine the best space heating system? Everyone wants a heating & ventilating system that meets their unique requirements at the lowest total cost. Before selecting a heater, define the heating/ventilating requirements and understand all the cost factors that determine the true lowest total cost solution for a specific facility.

BOILER SYSTEMS

One of the oldest forms of heating, boilers have been in existence since about the 1800’s and are still a preferred Boiler Heating Systemsystem of heating in large industrial facilities where remote plants deliver steam and hot water to satellite locations to circulate through heat exchangers. These exchangers can be part of unit heaters, make up air systems, or anywhere a heat exchanger can be installed. While huge advances in boiler technologies have evolved over the past few years, boiler systems are typically the most inefficient heating technology – with the highest overall installed cost, the highest cost to maintain and repair, and a huge level of stratification of the surrounding air. When discussing boiler replacements or supplemental heating with contractors, it’s very important to consider the overall operating and maintenance costs of these systems. Boilers require maintenance to ensure they operate at their peak efficiency.  Parts such as valves, traps and fittings wear out over time. While the boiler system generates the heat, they also require a distribution system – such as unit heaters or make up air systems.  A lot of mechanical components to consider.

Unit Heater Heating SystemUNIT HEATERS

The most basic of all heating technologies, unit heaters are inexpensive to purchase and have good familiarity by most contractors and engineers. The redundant design makes servicing by contractors very simple. They are fairly effective in zone heating. Unit heaters promote poor indoor air quality and huge levels of stratification in the space upwards of 20-30 degrees without adding additional HVLS fans.  They offer a low temperature rise versus direct fired technologies, a higher operating cost, and cannot combat dock door infiltration.

INFRARED OR RADIANT TUBE HEATERS

While infrared or tube heaters are good for zone and spot heating applications, they should never be used as the sole source of heating large spaces.  Radiant heaters offer a relatively low operating cost and a way to heat tools, work stations, and people without consuming floor space.  Radiant heaters do not offer indoor air quality benefits nor any ventilation in the summer. They do not promote air mixing and have a high installation cost due to line of sight restrictions and coverage limitations.

RECIRCULATION 80/20 SYSTEMS

Recirculation systems or 80/20 systems are typically thought to be more efficient than other technologies due to the fact that a large amount, up to 80% of the air moved is recirculated, thus not requiring a large amount of gas to heat it up. Recirculation units are widely used to combat facilities with mechanical exhaust systems, especially when variable CFM is needed. They typically regulate the amount of outside air they introduce, based off the CFM needs of the building itself. Typically, fewer units are necessary and they do a decent job of providing summer ventilation. Recirculation systems are draw thru systems with a minimal effective temperature rise of about 40-50F. When dock doors are open in a facility, the recirculation units will be driven to 100% outside air and with discharge temperatures ranging between 80-100F, they must run continuously to cycle enough CFM to make up the temperature and pressure drop. The recirculation units are very large and heavy, requiring larger cranes, structural modifications, and much larger first cost and operating costs. They are not certified for use in Canada and with recirculation of air and contaminants, products of combustion can build up in the space.

Air Turnover Heating SystemAIR TURNOVER (AIR ROTATION)

Air turnover has been marketed as a package system to industrial customers since its inception in the 1920’s.  While marketed as a single piece of equipment (a large tower set in the corner of a warehouse space), the greatest advantage of air turnover is the ability to provide BOTH tempered heating and cooling to a space.  Air turnover systems offer decent heating with limited stratification due to the massive volume of air they recirculate in the space.  This air mass is moved due to a continuous operation and very large horse power motors driving the fans.   Air turnover units provide a very low temperature rise of between 20-30 degrees and a discharge temperature of about 80-90 degrees.

DIRECT-FIRED MAKEUP AIR SYSTEMS


Direct-Fired Makeup Air units provide required ventilation to meet indoor air quality needs with efficiencies between 90-92% AFUE.   Widely beneficial in buildings with fixed CFM needs due to mechanical exhaust, makeup air units provide a fixed volume of air independent of the heat they provide.   With a lower discharge velocity at the plenum, air typically does not hit the floor to sweep and de-stratify the space and can lead to lower employee comfort levels.  The fixed CFM blowers require larger HP motors with over-pressurization of spaces a reality.  Larger motors, lower temperature rise, and less efficient design require more energy to run.

While Cambridge uses our Blow-thru design of the S-Series and SA-Series heaters to heat, a lot of manufacturers use makeup air units attempting to do the same.  In places where there are warmer climates and less winter cold, makeup air systems offer a way to temper the outside winter air thru a lower temperature rise of between 100° and 120°F and a draw thru design.  This places the mechanical components in the hot air stream.  For heating applications, we recommend our S-Series and SA-Series heaters.  With a Blow-thru design, our mechanicals are in the cold air stream.  The position of the blower relative to the burner and the burner’s ability to discharge 160°F, provides advantages over ANY makeup air unit – more air mass and higher temperature rise.  This provides the most BTUs per CFM from any manufacturer.

Cambridge’s M-series make up air units are designed to temper the air in situations where there is a lot of fixed or variable exhaust.  They can be interlocked with existing exhaust fans or outfitted with variable frequency drives.  Our units can come with fully modulating burners and automatic profile adjustment dampers.

Hopefully, the topic we’ve outlined today will help prepare you to address any technology claim from other manufacturers. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions. We can easily accommodate lunch and learns, audio and video conferencing, phone, or face to face sales calls.

Makeup Air with Cooling is Here!

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Cambridge is excited to offer our M-Series Makeup Air Unit with Cooling technologies! Our M-series products are used to provide both non-conditioned and cooled demand controlled ventilation and exhaust replenishment in both commercial and industrial buildings and facilities.

Cambridge M-Series Make-Up-Air units can provide up to 75,000 CFM of air, 140 tons of DX cooling / 250 tons of Hydronic cooling and evaporative cooling as well. We also have a wide range of performance features that include:

  • Motorized Inlet or Discharge Damper
  • Dual Rain Hoods
  • V-Bank Filter Sections
  • High Efficiency Filters
  • Mounting Curbs and Stands
  • Variable Frequency Drives

Some of the applications where our M-Series products are used are:

Automotive Service and Repair facilities, Greenhouses, Restaurants, Sporting facilities, Foundries, Paint Booths, Waste Water Treatment plants, Manufacturing facilities

Cambridge Engineering products are designed for simple installation, easy maintenance and reliable operation and they are available with certified and pre-engineered factory options and field-installed accessories.
For more information on our Make-up-Air solutions click here to visit our website!

Know the Difference Between HTHV and 80/20 Technologies – It Makes a Difference To Your IAQ!

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For years High Temperature Heating and Ventilation (HTHV), a direct-fired 100% outside air technology, and 80/20 direct-fired units have been heating solutions used for new construction and retrofit projects throughout the US with little attention to the differences in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) from both products. However, when it comes to IAQ there are significant differences between these two technologies – HTHV being the clear winner.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance1.

Among the frequently asked questions on the OSHA website is one concerning IAQ:

What is considered good IAQ?

The qualities of good IAQ should include comfortable temperature and humidity, adequate supply of fresh outdoor air, and control of pollutants from inside and outside of the building2.

It is these pollutants, and the amount of the pollutants in parts per million (PPM), that differentiate 100% outside air HTHV technologies apart from 80/20 units. Both OSHA and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) set limits on what the acceptable PPMs for different pollutants are for working environments. The performance and safety standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are z83.4 for 100% outside air non-recirculating direct gas-fired industrial air heaters and z83.18 for 80/20 recirculating direct gas-fired industrial air heaters. The infographic below helps illustrate the differing amount of pollutants in PPM between HTHV and 80/20 units along with the acceptable limits for these pollutants in both the US and Canada.

1 Reference OSHA website: www.osha.gov/about.html
2 Reference OSHA website: www.osha.gov/OSHA_FAQs.html