The era of modern fabric ducting began in Denmark in the early 70s as a collaboration between the Danish Meat Research Institute and a company within the Electrolux Group, called IPS Dansk Presenning A/S, that manufactured tarpaulins. IPS Ventilation grew out of IPS Dansk Presenning into a separate company that through the years became FabricAir as we know it today.
FabricAir Through the Decades: The 70s
Prior to the establishment of IPS Ventilation there had been scattered attempts at creating fabric ducting. Entrepreneurial employees across the globe had covered air inlets with e.g. duvet covers, pillow cases or even coffee bean bags to dampen the drafts in cold workspaces. These initiatives were never formalized, and the materials selected were health hazards; a breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria.
In 1973 the first modern fabric duct was installed in a slaughterhouse in Denmark. This was the result of a joint innovation project between the Danish Meat Research Institute (DMRI) and IPS Dansk Presenning A/S, a company in the Electrolux Group.
Denmark has a strong tradition in cooperatives, and DMRI was set up as a research and development foundation by the slaughterhouse community to further innovation within the art of meat processing.
The Danish meat processing facilities were experiencing a high number of employee sick days due to the drafts inside the work area. The high velocity freezing airflows created an unhealthy work environment, causing colds and other deceases among the staff. DMRI thus approached IPS Dansk Presenning A/S to design an air dispersion sock that would lessen the draft issues but not create a breeding ground for bacteria.
A fabric duct would not cause condensation, which is a primary factor in microbial growth. Conventional metal ducting had an array of shortcomings in these cold meat processing environments incl. condensation, corrosion and general hygienic challenges e.g. washabilty; whereas the fabric was fully washable and wouldn’t corrode.
The new fabric duct concept turned out to be an unprecedented success. Through different permeabilities in the fabric surface, the engineers could control the airflow, creating even air dispersion with much better air distribution across the room. By distributing the cooled air along the entire length of the room, they lowered the air velocity, thus minimized draft, without compromising product safety. The targeted airflows resulted in a more homogenous temperature across the plant despite the lower air velocity. The results were better product hygiene as well as much higher employee comfort despite the freezing temperatures of the cold rooms.
With two simple ideas in mind, “make it better & make it easier”, the technology was refined throughout the decade and IPS Ventilation became a department in its own right. The demand for draft-free, hygienic air dispersion solutions was massive. In 1978 the first fabric air dispersion system was installed outside the meat processing industry and by the end of the 70’s, fabric air dispersion technology had gained international traction across many industries and application types.