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CASE STUDY : MSC Performs Sensory Booth Controls Design and Precision Air/Water Balancing at Prominent Flavors & Fragrances Facility

sensory booths

MSC was retained to design and implement HVAC control systems and perform testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) for a sensory and shower booth renovation project at the U.S. headquarters of a prominent flavors and fragrances manufacturer. Sensory booths are specialized enclosed spaces designed to facilitate the evaluation of flavors and fragrances in a precisely controlled environment. They are used by flavorists, perfumers, and sensory analysts to assess and compare different aromas and tastes without external interferences or distractions. Similar to a sensory booth, a shower booth simulates a realistic bathing environment for the assessment of personal care products like soaps and shampoos. 

Scope of Work: Controls

The sensory booth portion of the project consisted of ten identical booths divided into two groups of five situated on either side of a central corridor. For the shower booths, there were six booths split into three groups, also on a central corridor. MSC was tasked with the design and installation of a comprehensive control system with graphical user interfaces and data logging capabilities. This included controllers, control panels, low-voltage control wiring, alarms, remote access, and integration of airflow control valves via BACnet communication. We also provided ATC system startup and on-site training for facility staff. 

Paramount to the project was achieving and maintaining a consistent neutral olfactory environment, requiring highly precise, repeatable control of temperature, humidity, and air filtration across all modes of operation. Even slight variations between booths could compromise the integrity of testing procedures and product development efforts. Additionally, the project was on a fast-tracked timeline, making it time-critical to identify and resolve any issues quickly to avoid delays and keep the renovation on schedule.

Scope of Work: TAB

MSC also conducted comprehensive airflow testing, adjusting, balancing, and commissioning of the newly renovated HVAC system, water balancing of the new hydronic coils, and water flow adjustment for shower booth operation. Functional performance and flow rates were verified using NIST-traceable instruments to ensure accuracy, and results were documented in an NEBB-certified report. 

Pre-Balancing Deficiencies Addressed


The project presented multiple issues that had to be addressed before balancing work could proceed. Our team identified several missing balance dampers on the purge exhaust ductwork, preventing balancing between the wall and ceiling grilles. Upstream and downstream duct distances needed to be modified to achieve accurate device readings. Due to the requirement for tightly controlled low airflow in the spaces, specialized instruments were purchased to ensure precise airflow (CFM) measurement accuracy. Special testing procedures were developed to achieve the tight tolerances, system operation and repeatability required. We also discovered severe duct leakage throughout the new system, causing unreliable airflow readings. MSC worked closely with the mechanical contractor to rectify these issues.

Successful Outcome


MSC’s systematic approach to achieving the stringent tolerances required in the sensory evaluation booths resulted in an exemplary project outcome. During the final commissioning phase, a mass spectrometer was utilized to verify the air ventilation rates across all booths. The commissioning agent reported that airflow in each of the sensory and shower booths was within 5% of one another – an unprecedented accomplishment in the flavors and fragrances industry for an installation of this complexity and caliber.

fragrance testing
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