Bound For The Floor
The National Provisioner offers a sampling of the trends, products and services that some of the industry’s flooring suppliers provide.
Meat and poultry processors who put an emphasis on the quality of their plant floors take sanitation and safety to new levels. Suppliers today offer a multitude of flooring options, all designed to withstand the often harsh chemical environments and temperature fluctuations that meat and poultry plants can dish out.
The National Provisioner asked the industry’s flooring suppliers for their thoughts on what processors are demanding for their plant floors, what technological advancements lay in the future and what suppliers are doing to meet processors’ demands. What follows are the opinions of only a sampling (listed alphabetically by company name) of the large, highly competitive flooring supplier marketplace, but their answers shed light on where the industry may be headed.
Q: What are some of the most common demands meat and poultry processors make when speaking with a flooring supplier about their plant floors today?
Paul Patuka, President, Advanced Surfaces Corp.: Appropriate product for the unique processing environment in question, qualified installers with experience in the meat and poultry industries, a solid, no-hassle, five-year or better warranty, and most of all, an installation company with the ability and flexibility to meet their short timeframe.
Joe Lazzaro, Director of Business Development, AgION Technologies: Floors must be chemical resistant, handle thermal shock, cure quickly and offer a layer of protection against bacteria and mold.
Steven J Lipman, Urethane Product Manager, Dur-a-flex Inc.: Our customers are looking for a cost-effective product that can be installed effectively in conditions and time constraints that will compromise most flooring systems. They are looking for a cost-effective solution to their issues of wide temperature variations in a relatively short period, [and] organic and inorganic acids and alkalis that can have an adverse effect on most synthetic flooring materials. They also require levels of slip resistance in wet processing areas for peace of mind.
Michael Jewell, Vice President of Marketing, Stonhard: Some common demands include the need for slip resistance, safety, durability, resistance to cracking (thermal shock), chemical resistance, specific to food acids and CIP solutions, pitching and quick turnaround time with little disruption to their operation.
Q: What do you see on the horizon as the biggest concerns in the future surrounding plant floors in meat-processing environments? What are some of the new technologies/offerings that address those concerns?
Patuka: Once meat and poultry processors find a product that will work in the environment in question, their biggest concerns are choosing the right contractor to perform the work, not only on the job in question, but other areas within their plant or other plants in their organization. When looking for a contracting company, processing facilities should investigate the experience level of the crew within the confines of industry similar applications. A great job done by a contractor for Fortune 500 companies in the textile industry or electronic industry doesn’t necessarily translate into successful jobs in the meat and poultry industries. Meat and poultry facilities are the most rugged environments with a wide range of variables to tackle all at once. A company with limited experience will, in a wet, greasy, cold, chemically cleaned and hot washed environment, more than likely produce a floor that will provide that plant with years of headaches.
Lazzaro: Producing a faster setting flooring material that can cure at lower temperature and still maintain its thermal compatibility with concrete. The plants are requiring cleaner floors and the use of safe antimicrobials are becoming more common. AgION has recently developed Clene Crete SL, which is a urethane concrete flooring system that can cure in low-temperature environments, withstand thermal shock, and is formulated with AgION’s Silver antimicrobials to produce a cleaner floor.
Jewell: Some concerns for the future of plant floors would include more stringent inspections. The need to eliminate cracks and standing water are becoming major concerns. New technologies in the industry allow the use of better equipment and techniques to allow floor work to progress while the plant remains in production. This includes advances in partitions, floor air-handling equipment and resurfacing products that contain no solvents or volatiles, which allow operations to continue within the plant during the install of the flooring. Stonhard can isolate a particular area in the plant [and] completely install a new floor start to finish, using these new products and technologies, all while the plant remains in production.
Q: What are some of the additional benefits of your products, such as ease/speed of installation, post-installation service, etc.?
Patuka: In addition to being Master Ucrete installers, Advanced Surfaces Corp. also installs its own brand of epoxy floor resurfacer, called Aro-Surf QC. Aro-Surf QC, typically applied at 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick, is a resin rich epoxy that provides more resistance to water, fats, oil and cleaning detergents, with a heavy, non-skid, aluminum oxide finish. It is an acrylated epoxy to provide a faster cure, so sanitation can get started on time without any holdups. This chemistry also provides a good deal of flexibility to bridge cracks and withstand movement between concrete slabs.
Lazzaro: Clene Crete SL has an extremely fast cure rate, is chemical resistant and is very durable.
Lipman: Coatings are required to protect concrete from not only the effects of harmful substances, but also mechanical stress. Any softening of the coating due to chemical exposure would not be a problem without additional mechanical loads, but [it] becomes a serious wear factor as a result of additional trafficking. The complex cross-linking of Dur-a-flex’s cementitious polyurethane systems gives unparalleled resistance to a broad range of chemicals, including organic and inorganic acids, solvents and alkalis. … Very low odor and zero risk of taint to open food products in close proximity allows cementitious urethanes systems to be successfully installed in meat/fish and dairy processing areas were epoxy or MMA would require tenting of the area and routing of fumes. Testing in Europe with these products in both component format and during cure in an airtight testing room in the presence of sensitive food products, such as cream and white chocolate buttons, have proved that there is no transfer of taint.
The abrasion resistance of the cementitious urethane systems is also very high, with results comparable to that of the two component aliphatic chemically resistant urethanes that are often used for hanger floors. Exceptional Taber Abrasion results are also realized, particularly when compared to the results of an epoxy coating.
Cementitious polyurethane systems, in addition to being able to absorb and dissipate heat and cold, also have excellent sound-deadening properties, particularly in areas where the operation requires trafficking with steel wheels.
Jewell: A major benefit on the plant floor would include our Project Management team. Stonhard has the capability and resources to schedule crews to maximize production, and a critical path checklist to ensure the customer is getting a quality floor on time and on budget, completely managed by a dedicated team of project managers and project engineers. The Project Management team ensures installers are following the plant GMP and Safety Programs, which benefits the customer. Stonhard’s post-installation services are second to none. A dedicated Territory Manager specific to the location of the plant remains as a point of contact from the first introduction, through all phases of the install, to the final walk-through, guaranteeing personalized service for the life of the floor. NP