Industrial floors must bear the brunt of normal plant activity, as well as many other destructive forces:
- Temperature changes and thermal shock
- Humidity and other water-related factors like rigorous cleaning procedures
- Equipment vibration
- Fork lifts and other vehicular traffic
- Chemical leaks and spills
And of course, never forget that flooring is a key part of an industrial building's foundation; where floors go, so goes the facility!
Paul Cook, Painters USA VP and co-founder, was recently published in Plant Services to discuss the importance of choosing the right industrial flooring contractor. As the subheader to his article states, "The best facility and maintenance managers treat flooring like their life and livelihood depend on it."
In his article, Paul explains why and how commercial and industrial floors need special care and attention. Following is a summary of his recommendations.
Work with impartial experts
Paul references a number of independent organizations that offer invaluable advice for flooring specifications:
- National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) will recommend NFSI WACH graduates who can assess the state of your facility’s floor, identify problems, and make recommendations.
- National Safety Council offers assessments for workplace safety.
- International Concrete Repair Institute certifies people as concrete slab moisture testing technicians.
Most plant maintenance managers will benefit by tapping into the knowledge of these organizations and the experience of skilled industrial flooring contractors.
Look for credibility
Applying a flooring system to a logistics company’s warehouse requires different techniques than replacing the floor at a power generation plant or a food or agricultural facility.
To validate a contractor’s credentials:
- Look for NACE Level 3 certified inspectors and other training and certifications.
- Find vendors with a passion for their craft and familiarity with your processes and your industry.
- Find a vendor with the ability to apply industrial flooring types (e.g., epoxy with an anti-microbial coating, vinyl, polyurethane or urethane) for your needs.
- Measure credibility by the contractor’s professionalism and proof of their experience.
Look for relevant references
Paul advises plant managers to ask for references and to actually talk to them. Ask very specific questions:
- Did the contractor meet their expectations?
- What were the contractor’s pre-project planning and post-project satisfaction procedures?
- How were the contractor's project management and communication skills?
Insist on a detailed plan with a day-by-day account of project elements, including a timeline, before work begins. The plan should include requirements for removal of existing coatings and other prepping steps, protection of adjacent areas, how long the curing and drying process will take, and any other details that matter to your budgets, timeframes, and production schedules.
Reduce costs by doing some the prep work
Since flooring projects are often priced based on the project, not by square footage, vendors have to add time for tasks like moving equipment and products or other preparations. Paul suggests that plant managers can find savings if they have their own people do some of this work.
Never sacrifice safety
While saving money matters, Paul also warns that short-term approaches can lead to bigger and more expensive problems like injuries, work stoppages. Flooring issues that don't pass third-party inspections and audits could even lead to cancelled contracts or competitive displacement.
Finally, because floors can contribute to both safe and unsafe workplaces, OSHA has outlined flooring requirements as part of the Code of Federal Regulations section 1910.22 for Walking-Working Surfaces. The agency can and does levy stiff fines for violations.
Savvy facility managers analyze situations, plan for improved outcomes, and spend money wisely. Flooring projects done well are no different.
If your commercial or industrial floors are in need of some attention, or you have questions about current issues, contact us to set up an inspection or to request an estimate.
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