The food and beverage manufacturing industry of Australia is a high-standard, face-paced industry with little room for error. Downtime is scheduled months in advance, and adherence to shutdown periods is vital. The last thing a maintenance manager wants to hear is that a maintenance project will need to be completed again just three months after completion due to non-compliance.
Understanding available flooring solutions for individual areas in a food or beverage manufacturing facility can significantly boost the success of a project for the maintenance manager. Let’s first cover off on the three main challenges that need to be considered prior to selecting a flooring solution.
- Constant Wet Conditions
Food and beverage manufacturing facility floors are under constant stress due to the water used in frequent washdowns, cleaning routines and liquids from the food production. If the incorrect flooring solution has been installed, it creates a couple of issues; slip hazards, pooling of liquids (if falls have been done incorrectly), and corrosion of the floor.
- Temperature Extremes
The majority of food manufacturing production and cleaning process involves heat, with the storage of goods involving temperatures below zero. With two extreme temperatures, if the incorrect flooring solution has been applied, the concrete will gradually crack under the pressure, and expose bare substrate.
With the high amount of acids and alkalis involved in cleaning routines as well as the food production process, corrosion can occur if the incorrect flooring solution has been applied.
Now we’ve briefly covered off on the challenges, we’ll review the options. Unfortunately the ANZ Food Standards Code gives us little guidance as to the ideal flooring solutions. At Allied Finishes, we can only provide advice based on flooring solutions that comply with the following:
As set out in the ANZ Food Standards Code Standard 3.2.3, flooring must be designed and constructed in such a way that is appropriate for the activities conducted on the food premises. More specifically, floors must:
- be able to be effectively cleaned;
- be unable to absorb grease, food particles or water;
- be laid so there is no ponding of water;
- and to the extent that is practicable, be unable to provide harbourage for pests.
From this, we have outlined below, three flooring solutions that comply with this, as well as the areas where each flooring solution should be implemented.
- Ceramic or Quarry Tiles
Ceramic or Quarry Tiles are highly durable, and excellent for high traffic loads. They have good impact resistance and have a long life. They are, however, relatively expensive and require a long duration for installation. The permeable grout also makes cleaning and sanitising difficult, so regular thorough cleaning routines need to be in place to avoid microbe harbourage, and dirt and grease retiring there.
- Epoxy Resin
Epoxy resins have a fast installation time and are durable. High solid epoxies provide good protection against acids and alkalis, but not strong protection against lactic acid, which is essential in dairy production facilities. Epoxies also don’t handle cold or thermal shock conditions very well, however they do bond well to prepared concrete.
- Polyurethane Cements
Polyurethane cements have a long service life. They have good resistance to thermal cycling, and excellent chemical resistance, especially to lactic acid. They are typically low odour, seamless, and easy to clean. Polyurethane cements have greater resilience and elasticity than epoxy resins, making them more resistant to scratching and marring. The elasticity makes this type of floor suitable for freezers where storage temperatures may reach -30°C.
While polyurethane cement systems appear to be the best flooring solution, the other two solutions are suitable in lower-pressure areas of the food manufacturing facility. Please note due to the description of tiles above, we do not offer this product. Areas in a food factory have been outlined below, with our recommendation of flooring solution.
Ingredients storage rooms are typically dry areas, with minimal foot traffic, but some forklift traffic. Understanding this, the floor needs to be durable, but without frequent washdowns as in the production areas, it isn’t under as much stress. We recommend a polyurethane cement flooring solution, in a light non-slip for this area. In particular our SteriFloor Schützend solution is ideal for ingredients storage areas.
Production areas present a range of challenges to be considered when selecting a flooring solution. Constant wet conditions, temperature extremes, corrosion with acids and alkalis, and high pressure hosing, putting the floor under a lot of pressure. A polyurethane cement system is ideal for this type of area. We recommend our SteriFloor Stärke solution – the hardest-wearing food-grade flooring solution available for food and beverage manufacturing facilities.
High Care Areas
Many food manufacturing facilities have high care areas, where maximum hygiene is required. Typically traffic is minimal, but cleaning is frequent. We recommend an epoxy solution, in a stipple finish. Our SteriFloor Keimfrei solution is ideal for high care areas.
With the constant foot and forklift traffic in packing halls, the flooring solution needs to be durable. Standing up against water, acids and alkalis is not a challenge faced in this area, however due to the durability required, we recommend a polyurethane cement system. In particular, we recommend our SteriFloor Beschützen solution.
A change in flooring temperature can cause many flooring solutions to crack, exposing the substrate. Polyurethane cement systems are not as affected by this change, hence we recommend this solution in a higher build. Our SteriFloor Stärke solution is ideal for coolrooms, as it would not crack with the changing floor temperature.