Q&A with John Barker – Chairman of the Humidity Group

Q&A with John Barker – Chairman of the Humidity Group

FETA speaks with newly appointed Chairman of the Humidity Group, John Barker, to get his thoughts on the future direction of the Group as well as the wider industry.

What are your aims and objectives as Chairman of the Humidity Control Group?

I have set out four main aims for the Humidity Control group which are as follows:

  • To be inclusive and to increase the number of participants from all the major producers and distributors of humidity related equipment to ensure that we speak for all in the humidity control sector.
  • Ensure that humidity is a recognised sector of the HVAC market to ensure that we are represented in a meaningful way.
  • Promote the standards that detail the humidity required for various applications – we find that as many contractors and consultants do not come across humidity control projects every day, they are unsure of what is the correct humidity for various applications. It is our job to highlight these standards such as BS 40102, EVIA and CIBSE KS19.
  • To promote humidity control within FETA and via the various marketing routes.

What is your background in the industry?

From studying Engineering at Portsmouth University, I went to work for JS Humidifiers for 16 years, then Draabe who are a German manufacturer of adiabatic Humidifiers and represented them in the UK for a further five years. At this point I felt a need to offer the clients a full service with customer care as the focus, and so I decided to set up Humidity Solutions Ltd in 2008.

The customer focus model has worked well, which can be demonstrated by 15 years of continuous growth, and made possible with a fantastic range of equipment sourced from Europe and Canada. We are a strong player in the UK market with a team of 25 covering design, sales and service.

Sadly, I believe I am the longest serving humidifier person in the UK humidity control sector industry with 36 years of experience but I still love what I do as we grow the business and the people within it.

How does the Humidity Control Group go about highlighting the importance of correct humidity control?

As part of HEVAC, which is part of FETA, we aim to use this platform to raise the profile of humidity control. We are the only group in Europe and hence have interest from a range of universities and standards organisations from across the continent, both of which are keen to work alongside us to promote their research findings and have standards set.

This gives us the opportunity to be a resource for anyone requiring information on the levels of control that is required to maintain a stable environment.

Furthermore, the Humidity Group members can offer practical advice and solutions in their area of expertise. This we look to communicate through the Group via case studies, papers on humidity control, approved codes of practice plus through social and print media attention.

What are the main fields of use for humidity equipment?

The Humidity Control group is made up of three main supply areas which are humidifiers, dehumidifiers and humidity measurement. All have different areas or industry sectors where they have a primary requirement.

Humidifiers are commonly used for human comfort, whether this be in a medical institutions or offices where they are key to preventing the transmission of viruses, stopping sore eyes or combating respiratory issues. Other sectors where humidification control is a major factor is within test chambers and laboratories where a required set level of humidity is vital for maintaining a stable environment, this is also the case in museums and galleries where a stable environment of the right conditions is key to ensuring the preservation of the artwork.

Dehumidifiers are frequently used with swimming pools but can also create exceptionally dry environments, such as for the manufacture of lithium batteries or within the pharmaceutical and food sectors to ensure the transmission of powders. A more standard application could be to prevent corrosion on metal surfaces or the preservation of valuable items such as classic cars.

Humidity monitoring is essential to understand potential issues or to act as a warning before the moisture level goes out of specification.

What are the benefits of being a Humidity Control Group member?

1. To be involved in your industry and to make a difference by being involved in shaping the direction of the humidity control sector in the UK and beyond.

2. To be part of a network of likeminded industry professionals sharing knowledge and experiences.

3. Be involved in a growing sector and part of the indoor air quality debate which links so closely to outdoor air quality standards and managing environmental change and the effects caused to our indoor area.

What do you see as the key issues/challenges within the humidity controls sector?

Education and awareness are the focus as well as to give humidity control a stronger voice when air quality is being discussed. Humidity is often spoken of in negative terms – we as a group do not disagree with the problems caused by the extremes in humidity as it is the reason for our businesses who can measure, monitor, add or subtract moisture allowing us to create the ideal conditions for people or processes and thereby eliminating issues.

Humidity is ever present and like temperature has a constant effect on how we feel and what we do. However, the human body is not able to gauge the levels unless the relative humidity is at an extreme, so it is our challenge to increase awareness of the positive effects on controlling this variable in our surroundings.

The opportunity is that in a world where the outside environment is changing so rapidly indoor air quality shall have greater focus – the challenge is for the Humidity Group to voice the positives associated with providing humidity control.

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Q&A with John Barker – Chairman of the Humidity Group
As the senior manager of the Federation, Chris ensures that FETA operates in accordance with the wishes of the Board, reflecting the needs of member companies, as efficiently and economically as possible.

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