Sales Director and co-founder of Humidity Solutions, Lindsey Henderson, has spent over 35 years gaining experience in humidity control. Sitting down to pick her brain shows it was time well spent
After more than 35 years of experience in an industry, you can expect a person to have learnt a thing or two. For the humidity control industry that person is Lindsey Henderson, who in 2008 took her knowledge and co-founded Humidity Solutions. Lindsey is now Sales Director and also has specific responsibility for the rapidly expanding dehumidification side of the business.
With days revolving around dealing with people, Lindsey explains that this job suits her perfectly, "My first engineering job was in test engineering and I was sat in front of a load of measuring instruments all day long! I got out quick and ended up taking on a role as a Sales Engineer in humidification, which was perfect for me," she said. "Whether it is customers or the team at Humidity Solutions, I like people."
As a young new female engineer it was difficult to be taken seriously
With a vast amount of knowledge and natural multitasker abilities, Lindsey seems well fitted to the other aspects of the job. In her time there Lindsey has also covered various roles over the years in technical sales, sales and project management, so she understands the challenges that can arise. All this experience has taught Lindsey that she has to trust her intuition. "Whatever the situation or the pressures, work or personal life, just trust your own inner guidance because it knows best," she says.
There is no one way to get into humid control, but Lindsey talks about her journey.
"I studied electronic engineering and really enjoyed it," Lindsey explains. "I think having an analytical mind helps, I like to know how things work and in turn like to have all the facts in order to design the best solution."
When talking about her own personal milestones, Lindsey discusses the hurdles that she faced entering the industry at a young age. "I can't say there was a specific turning point really, but I would say once you have a certain amount of experience under your belt and can prove you know your stuff then things get easier," she says. "When I was a young female engineer new to the industry it was difficult to be taken seriously. There are many more women in engineering now than when I started which is great, sadly we are still under-represented though. As with anything, confidence is key, if you are confident in your products and your own subject knowledge then of course that comes across to your colleagues and customers."
Once the major hurdles have been faced and you find your niche, this is when Lindsey says you really hit your stride. After years of experience and getting a company off the ground, Lindsey has hit the ground running.
"I am currently heading up expansion of the dehumidification side of the business. Humidity can have multiple effects, including everything from causing metals to rust, to making wood swell or making powders go lumpy. Our Cotes Desiccant dehumidifiers and the intelligent application of humidity control technology can pave the way to significant efficiency and benefits from greater output, more consistent production processes, higher and more consistent product quality, longer service life of key assets and many more benefits."
Lindsey is enthusiastic to talk about some of her experiences in the industry. Facing and addressing problems that operators see every day. One of the big things she talks about is maintaining cleanroom humidity around changing seasonal weather conditions. Unsurprisingly she explains that the biggest challenge really is ensuring all the design information is available and taken into consideration at the outset as determining the space supply airflow is key.
It is imperative that there is enough evaporation distance
"The space cleanliness classification is the primary variable in determining this airflow," she says. "There are many aspects to be taken into consideration, such as size of room, number of people, equipment, process involved, heat gains etc. All this information needs to be gathered to enable the humidity load calculation to be calculated and confirmed or indeed the dehumidification load to be calculated. This load is based on the worst-case conditions in winter and summer and we will select equipment and design the system based on these facts. From there, it’s down to controlling the system depending on what are the ambient conditions."
Lindsey also goes into the issues of dripping and condensation due to inappropriate humidity control. She is emphatic in stating that the correct control and installation of humidity should never result in dripping and condensation if designed correctly. "More often than not, when these issues occur it is normally an issue with controlling sensors or indeed a parameter such as air velocity or temperature," Lindsey explains.
The biggest issue Lindsey seems to see in cleanrooms is not with improper designs at the outset, but with space-related problems. "As with many applications it's usually space related, either space to fit the humidification and or dehumidification equipment itself or the space within the Air Handling Unit or duct for the introduction of the humidity," she says. "It is imperative the humidity has enough evaporation distance prior to anything downstream such as HEPA filters to prevent any issues. This is something we always take into consideration and sometimes have to specify our custom-built short absorption manifolds for as the space can be so tight."
Correct control and installation should never result in dripping and condensation
To avoid any issue that can have huge impacts on the production process Lindsey has some sage advice, "I think it would be to be really clear on what's important to you, on-going running costs and energy efficiency, longevity and reliability, maintenance requirements, little or no downtime, control tolerances. +/- 1% or +/- 5-10% - all will have an effect on which type of humidifier technology is best for your application, so be clear on your wish list.
Humidity is such a unique sector but is ironically almost ubiquitous to most production lines. Lindsey has found a love for the diverse sector, enjoying the wide range of applications and markets she gets to be involved in.
"Humidity can have a profound influence on materials, production costs, on service and maintenance expenditure as well as energy consumption and resultant environmental impact," she says. "This applies to virtually all sectors! You would be hard pushed to find an application we have not dealt with, however, the key is every customer is unique and has a slightly different emphasis on what is important for them, or how their building is designed. We like to provide the right engineered solution for each and every customer and that's why it's a great sector to be involved in."
Keenly aware that with the wide range of industries, comes a need for a keen eye on future industries Lindsey talks about Humidity Solutions' involvement with the relatively new hydroponics sector.
|I am not sure [that many HVAC and humidification services providers are taking advantage of these projects], but maybe that is because they are not set up to do so. It's a new industry and is growing with massive potential, however, it is still in its infancy," she says. "These new niche industries are something we are well versed in dealing with and have, over the years, developed solutions for the Hot Yoga and Charcuterie markets to name a couple. We are independent and flexible so have the knowledge and ability to develop bespoke solutions as and when required."
The pandemic is one such area that Lindsey has been keeping a keen eye on over the last year. In the industry, Lindsey and the team have been promoting the importance and benefits of humidity control with relation to Indoor Air Quality. "We are pushing for standards to be implemented to maintain relative humidity within a specified band to aid human comfort - reducing headaches, itchy skin, and now particularly how maintaining and relative humidity of 40-60% will reduce the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses."
Lindsey is encouraged by the attention these matters are now getting and says that with many things, the pandemic has brought the need for this into the spotlight and hopefully accelerated the urgency with which these issues will be tackled in future.
The closing message Lindsey puts to me is that a diverse sector requires a diverse offering."We deal with a wide range of applications that may need a small amount of moisture added and very close control or a full turnkey package with humidifiers, dehumidifiers, installation and aftersales service. We are prepared."