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Facility Maintenance Decisions

Making Temporary or Portable Cooling Systems Work

In making a decision on temporary or portable cooling, managers need to consider the physical size of the unit. Temporary cooling units range in size from half-height refrigerators to units that take up an entire tractor trailer. If the units will be installed inside a facility, managers first must make certain installers can move the unit to its intended location. If the unit will be located outside the facility, sufficient space must be available.

Managers also need to consider noise and vibrations. Small, portable cooling units are self-contained. Their fans and compressors make more noise than a conventional cooling system or a window unit, but workers can position them so they will have little impact on operations. Larger units mounted outside a building tend to generate high levels of noise, and so managers must be certain they are carefully positioned to avoid interfering with operations.

Most large systems are rented. For smaller and mid-sized systems, managers have the option of renting or purchasing the units. Most facilities use a combination of both equipment options. Generally, managers purchase smaller, portable units that their facilities are more likely to require frequently.

While this is the most convenient and lowest-cost option, it does present a danger. It is not uncommon to find that someone borrows the unit for a particular application but never returns the unit. To prevent them from disappearing, managers must implement strict controls on the use of the units.

When renting units, managers should take time to make the arrangements well in advance, not when the need arises. This is particularly important for larger units that might not be readily available. Managers will have to ensure contracts with equipment providers identify not only the specifics of the unit being rented, but also for who is responsible for delivery, installation, connection, service, and removal. Advance planning will prevent the wasting of time trying to find a unit, and it will minimize the disruption in operations.

James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md. He has more than 25 years of experience in facilities maintenance, engineering and management issues.

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  posted on 4/16/2015   Article Use Policy

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