Here's a good question. Can you think of anything more important than floors?
Well, maybe. However, proper flooring is an incredibly crucial component in any food plant. You abuse your floors. I know, this may appear a shock to all you kind people out there. Your floors take tremendous abuse on a daily basis. Food Plant Engineering is here to help your floors deal with this. Protecting your floor is very important!
You walk on them. You work on them. You drop things on them. You wash them. They're everywhere. Here's the deal: floor failure in your plant severely damages your productivity and increases your sanitation costs.
What flooring options are available? If your floor is consistently exposed to harsh conditions, you may want to consider adding toppings to your floor to improve the durability and cleaning ease of the floor. Basically, be nice to your floor and it will return your kindness. How can you prevent floor failure? First, let's talk about the options and then discuss the causes of floor failure.
Flooring options can be confusing because the industry has many manufacturers of floor systems. Furthermore, each manufacturer has different names for their product offerings. What can you do to make this easier? Well, Food Plant Engineering is here to help. In order to simplify selection, we can break down the options into two categories: seamless and non-seamless. In this issue we are going to focus on the overwhelmingly popular choice: seamless floors.
Seamless floors are categorized by the polymers in the resin in the floor. The polymers typically used in the food industry include:
- Vinyl ester
- Acrylic – methyl methacrylate (MMA)
Resinous flooring systems all start with a base resin, so you should definitely ask any flooring manufacturer about the base resin they are using. After the base resin, various components are added to the resin depending on the intended use of the floor (and budget considerations of course).
There are many types of additives for your flooring system that can increase the performance of your floor. Each type of additive is specific to your floor's function. We will mention a select few here to give you ideas on possible options for your floor.
Coarse Sand Grit
- This additive is great with most flooring. It prevents slipping and skidding
- These chips are an attractive addition to your floor. As a decorative additive, color chips have aesthetic appeal and can be used together to form patterns and separate process areas.
Crack Spanning Primers
- This material spans cracks and protects the finish topping from transference of the crack. It is used for cracked floors when it isn't practical to remove and replace the existing slabs.
Now you have chosen your floor system. Don't throw the huge party yet because the job isn't finished. It's time to look at floor installation techniques:
- This is a quicker type of installation. It is thin and resembles a painting technique.
- This method results in a heavier floor. The flooring is poured and other materials are then broadcast in the floor including chips, sand, or other hard materials. These objects are placed on top of the poured resin before the hardening process.
- You've surely seen this method done before. The thick paste-like substance is laid and spread with a trowel.
Now you know the options for seamless floors. You also know about the finer details. However, you don't know what causes seemingly good floors to fail. We're here to prevent the
Top Six Floor Failures!
If you know what failures your floor will be subject to, you know what type of floor you need. Drum roll, please:
#1 Excessive Moisture Content
The dreaded moisture begins to slowly seep through the floor. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it? If the moisture content of your floor slab is too high, it can be a horror for your facility. Excessive moisture severely limits the types of floor topping you can install. Furthermore, this moisture migrates from the ground under your slab and causes cracks, potholes, and other inconvenient openings.
#2 – Insufficient Chemical Resistance
Chemicals can kill you. I got your attention, right? Good, because chemicals can also kill your floors. Make sure that your product selection has sufficient data for resistance to the chemicals to which it will be exposed. Some materials (like grease) are harmless at normal temperatures, yet prove to be decisively corrosive when heated.
#3 – Poor Thermal Shock Resistance
Do you work inside an active volcano? Probably not, but there are some very hot materials out there. For example, daily maintenance of food processing plants involves cleaning with hot water or steam. Thermal shock resistant surfaces do exist, and we can help you find them!
#4 – Inadequate Surface Preparation
Oh, no! Someone made a mistake! Thankfully, we're here to clean up that mess with the power of knowledge. Sounds cheesy, but it's true. If you don't prepare your floor properly, it may need to be completely replaced soon after the installation process. Mechanically abrading the floor with steel shot is a good idea. Don't just leave it there though; vacuum it up for further use (this saves you money of course)! Water blasting can also be used. If oils or fats have penetrated the surface, use a chemical degreaser.
#5 – Poor Slip Resistance
Don't forget that "wet floor" sign! Or, with the right type of flooring, you can use that sign less often. You don't want employees to slip and crack their heads because that results in serious injury (and high insurance premiums)! The surface texture of floors in wet areas should be skid resistant and not subject to removal of the texture during exposure to daily wear and tear. Remember to request a sample of the product! This way, you can compare it to the finished texture of the floor.
#6 – Unrealistic Expectations
Ah, this is something we are all guilty of. Do not expect a miracle floor that will last forever, win you an award, pay your debts, or make your spouse eternally happy with your anniversary gifts. Seriously though, the floor that looks the best may not prove to be the best long term performer. Make sure you know the following:
- What maintenance steps are necessary to keep the floor in best possible shape?
- Are there important product limitations?
- What is the floor's service life?
- What constitutes normal wear and tear?
- Are the warrantee terms and conditions reasonable?
Well, there you have it. I hope you have learned a thing or two about flooring. You can't be expected to know everything, and that's why Food Plant Engineering is here. For over sixty years, we have dealt professionally with all types of food plant construction concerns. Flooring is one of them. We can aid you in determining the best type of flooring for your existing or future food plant.