For manufacturers in Southern California, adding humidity to manufacturing spaces offsets dry conditions. Low relative humidity levels play a key role in causing production issues and machinery downtime–especially when the Santa Ana winds blow. The effect of these winds may not always be top of mind for operations, engineering and materials managers.
Dry Conditions: Southern California Production
The Southern California region is known for warm, temperate and fairly consistent weather patterns. Most people may only be familiar with the sun and surf culture or Hollywood glamour of life in Southern California. For industry, the warm climate also brings issues that impact production such as static. The dry condition negatively affects materials storage and machinery. It impacts processes such as gluing, binding, adhesion, filling and mixing. Materials such as wood, paper, packaging, plastics and composites are affected.
Santa Ana Winds: Production Issues
In the greater Southern California region’s main corridors of production, the warm climate brings some of the lowest relative humidity rates across the 50 states. Add on the seasonal offshore Santa Ana winds and suddenly, the humidity level dips even more, further impacting production. Where most coastal areas suffer increased relative humidity levels because air blows onshore, the one of a kind Santa Ana winds typically blow South-Southwest taking with them any ability of the air to hold onto humidity.
Santa Anas: How They Work
As the wind blows through mountain passes, it picks up speed because of the compression of the air as it gets closer to lower elevation at sea level. This compression of the air also heats it up, burning off humidity and lowering the relative humidity levels as it does so. Sometimes, the winds can be cold but they are still typically very dry and bring high pressure cold, but still dry, conditions.
These Santa Ana winds can strike anytime from October through Spring months. Typically, they blow for a single or several days at a time and then die down. In terms of timing, they are consistent in one aspect: they are intermittent but can begin at any time.
Static Impacts: Southern California Production
For manufacturing and production spaces, these winds can further lower humidity levels for already dry conditions inland toward desert areas but they also dry out the more humid coastal Southern California cities. The swath of geography impacted includes most of Southern California’s larger populated areas and inland areas where many companies have chosen the locale because of the slightly lower cost of real estate and access to logistics and distribution corridors along the 60, 10, 15, 57 and 210 freeways. Adding a precision humidity system to these manufacturing environments can maintain optimal relative humidity.
California: Large Manufacturing Base
Although California’s economy is recognized because of Silicon Valley’s status worldwide, less well-known is that the state still accounts for the highest number of manufacturing jobs in the country contributing just over 10% of manufacturing jobs for the nation.(BOL) Impressive as that fact is in itself, it also boasts the largest number of manufacturing companies and the highest manufacturing output of any state at $316.76 Billion. Southern California’s six counties make up the 4th largest manufacturing region in the country, behind the state itself, Ohio and Texas. (DOT reference)
Manufactured in California
Looking closer, the state is the host for a wide range of manufactured products. Some of these include aerospace products & parts, pharmaceutical & medicine, instruments, controls, measuring components along with packaging, medical equipment & supplies and national defense systems to name a few . While not exhaustive, that list gives an idea of the type of highly precise products manufactured in California. These types of products can easily become subject to production problems when winds cause dry ambient conditions–something that happens year after year!
Production So Cal: Mexico Not Far Away
‘Just over the border’ does not mean a dramatic difference in weather patterns and dry, arid environments along with Santa Ana conditions, can’t be left behind. For the last 26 YEARS post-NAFTA, businesses have moved production facilities just south of the border. They’ve left behind California’s high cost of land, taxes, employment overhead and environmental regulation. For better or worse, the issue of Santa Ana winds and the production issues that blow in with them remain. Production in the Mexican states just south of the U.S. border also suffer from these same dry production conditions.
So Cal: Distribution & Logistics
On the transportation side, the Southern California region ranks as a major center of the country for distribution and logistics. Southern California represents one of the largest gateways of goods for the rest of the country originating locally as well as from international imports. Local distribution supports the just over 24 million people in Southern California and the additional 15.5 throughout the rest of the state. 1.6 million tons of cargo valued at $4.7 billion is moved across and throughout Southern California daily. This concert and orchestration of transportation, storage, distribution and logistics is extremely complex for this second-largest metropolitan area of the country.
Warehousing Static: Keep it Moving
Static causes problems when dealing with boxes in warehousing environments. A key part of this massive movement of goods throughout the Southern California region, warehousing plays a huge role in temporarily housing these goods or for serving as hubs to get product to consumers for some of the nation’s largest retailers. Static can impact these facilities. Boxes, materials and goods can suffer from static’s ‘stickiness’ impacting machinery as well as product itself. Static can cause boxes to stick to belts interfering with automated processes and causing delays or mistakes in on-time delivery outcomes. Adding humidity to these environments can alleviate the static issue anytime relative humidity dips very low.
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