Imagine a 150,000-square-foot facility with few doors and little ventilation. Packed throughout the building is heavy, heat-producing machinery, including three 18-foot-by-70-foot paint drying ovens that easily reach up to 550°F. Employees not only need to work in this warm environment, but they must constantly wear heavy protective clothing and stand directly next to heat-generating machinery. Did we mention the facility is also located in hot, humid Houston, Texas? For Mauser USA, the largest drum-making facility in America, this is their reality.
Mauser’s title of “largest drum-making facility in America” is quite a feat. They have long specialized in the manufacturing and delivery of steel drums that meet the most stringent packaging requirements, whether the drum is being used to hold and handle dangerous products like those used in the chemical and petrochemical fields or 55-gallon drums that contain food/beverage products, paints, inks, dyes and more. Mauser produced a whopping 3.4 million drums last year. That’s an average of 70,000 drums a week from the Houston plant.
To keep up with the physical demands of the work in sheer quantity alone, extra precautions and measures must be taken by Mauser’s management to keep their employees in tip-top shape. With the manufacturing facility averaging at least 100° indoors no matter what the temperature is outside and reaching temperatures of 125° or more during the brutal Texas summers, a major part of their employee safety plan is a concerted effort to mitigate the heat that can negatively impact their team. Mauser has utilized various methods to remove as much excess heat as they can from the building, including the use of industrial fans throughout, but these measures made only a small impact. Over the years, they realized the fans alone just wouldn’t cut it.
To keep employees cool, Mark Allen, the Metal Division Plant Manager turned to Portacool. Since 2008, Mauser has acquired more than 15 Portacool Classic™ portable evaporative cooler models, including a Jetstream 2400, three 16” Filler Carts and fifteen 16” Three Speeds. While management has placed multiple products in locations that get particularly hot – like by the load-lid areas – the majority of the Portacool evaporative coolers are used primarily for personal cooling. With employees working in “stalls” directly next to the heat-producing machinery, having powerful cooling to combat the heat makes a huge difference in keeping the team cool. Additionally, the manual fill option and mobility provided by the heavy-duty casters make it easy for employees to keep an evaporative cooler close by throughout the day.
Mark and his team find minimal, but regular maintenance of their evaporative coolers keep them working at optimal capacity and free of pollutants that are rampant in the plant, such as paint from the drums. Each month Mauser takes the time to drain their products of water and inspect the status of the evaporative media to ensure that they are performing at their best. If the winter is cool enough to require storage, the team drains and thoroughly cleans their products before storing them away which has helped maintain the quality of the evaporative coolers for the past decade.
“We rely on our Portacool evaporative coolers to help make a very hot environment comfortable for our employees,” says Mark. “That’s important because their health and safety is a big priority for us.”
An added benefit? Since the employees are more comfortable, Mark notes that they don’t have to take as many breaks and that contributes to increased productivity. Thanks to Portacool, even the Texas heat can’t disrupt Mauser’s focus on remaining the leader in their industry.