Cooling Vest Keeps Paint Booth Workers Safe and Comfortable


In Charlotte, NC, summer can be brutal, with temperatures regularly reaching over 90˚F: hot enough to melt the ice cream right out of the cone. It’s hard to stand outside, harder to work outside, and harder still to work in a collision repair center, where the curing oven bakes the cars—and employees—after painting.


The Challenge

David Nutter, a Painter at Cadillac of South Charlotte, reports that the thermometer regularly reports temperatures of 100˚F in the summer, creating a potentially dangerous workplace for Nutter and his employees. Excessive heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, and in the most severe cases, heatstroke. At worst, the working environment can hospitalize employees if not monitored carefully, but heat can also cause fatigue, slow down productivity, and cloud judgment.

Cadillac of South Charlotte is a stand-alone Cadillac dealer with a 9,300-square foot collision center. They have two paint booths, which keep Nutter and his two assistants plenty busy with prep, painting, and moving cars along to the curing oven. For the past four summers, Nutter has worn a 3M Versaflo face shield that supplies fresh air, keeping his face and head from overheating.

Bruce Dunehew, the Collision Center Manager, was impressed by the effectiveness of the mask and wanted to expand protection to cool the whole body.

“I was excited to see that Vortec offers a cooling vest!” -Dunehew



The Solution

Vortec Personal Air Conditioners (PACs) circulate cold air to minimize temperature-related stress and fatigue, thus improving comfort and productivity.

The key to this low-cost personal air conditioner is the built-in vortex tube. The Vortex Tube converts compressed air to a low-pressure cold air, by spinning it rapidly, splitting into hot and cold airstreams. The cold air stream feeds into the vest, which diffuses the airflow around the worker’s torso, keeping them comfortable and productive.

The circulating air is up to 60⁰F cooler than the ambient temperature, keeping workers cool even in oppressive environments, like the 120°F regularly experienced in the Cadillac of South Charlotte paint booths.

These durable, plasticized vests are available in three sizes and provide continuous cooled air through their perforated lining. They do not restrict movement, absorb sweat, or hold contaminants, and can be worn under other protective clothing, like David Nutters painter’s coveralls.

The cooling vest requires no hook-ups other than a compressed air source, which in this case, is supplied by a rotary screw compressor that feeds the Vortec PAC Vest, along with all of the air tools used throughout the collision center—making the PAC an easy addition to the facilities systems.


"Vortec Personal Air Conditioning Vests (PAC's) circulate cold air to minimize temperature-related stress and fatigue, thus improving comfort and productivity."


The Result

Dunehew purchased an XL size vest and immediately implemented it into their facility's daily operations.

Although Dunehew and his team have not calculated the additional throughput or efficiency since adding the cooling vest, they have seen improvement, making the $300 investment "well worth it."

Especially considering the fact that it hasn't broken down or needed further maintenance. The vest system is an added boost, providing necessary cooling without any additional technical problems or bulky systems.

"It helps immensely," exclaims Nutter. "I am significantly cooler and a lot more comfortable. I'm able to concentrate more on the task at hand, which is extremely!"

When trying to stay cool in the summer heat, it may seem counterintuitive to add layers of clothing, but when that clothing is a cooling vest, the effects are immediate and substantial, as demonstrated by the team at Cadillac of South Charlotte.


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