Dairy is one of Australia’s most important rural industries, producing approximately 8.8 billion litres of milk in 2018-19 and directly employing approximately 46,200 people. Flooring in the dairy production industry is challenging. From wet production areas to extreme temperature variances, as well as controlling bacteria growth, there are a lot of considerations when having a new floor installed.
There are four main challenges to be considered when looking at flooring options:
Wet Production Areas
Due to the nature of dairy production being a wet process, constant immersion of the floor is often the reality. This creates issues including slip hazards, pooling of liquids (if falls have been done incorrectly), and corrosion of the floor. Along with these challenges, harsh chemicals are often used to eliminate bad bacteria growth, which can corrode a non-acid and chemical resistant floor.
Controlling Bad Bacteria
With the dairy production process often involving both heat and moisture, without proper control measures, the floor can become a perfect medium for unwanted bacteria to thrive. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand describes the importance of temperature to bacteria as follows:
“… bacteria can grow at temperatures between 5°C and 60°C, which is known as the temperature danger zone. The fastest rate of growth is at around 37°C, the temperature of the human body.”
With most dairy products, such as cheese, yoghurt, custard and cream, the production and cleaning process involves heat, while storage will typically be between 2°C and 5°C. Obviously frozen dairy products such as ice cream needs to be stored at sub-zero temperatures. With two extreme temperatures, differential expansion and contraction of the floors can cause cracking, which can often lead to serious failure and exposure of bare concrete.
Chemical and Acid Exposure
Exposure to acids such as nitric and phosphoric acid (in cleaning chemicals), as well as lactic acid from the dairy product can place the floor under significant pressure. Because of this, a flooring solution with excellent chemical resistance is highly recommended to stand up to these acids.
The Ideal Flooring Solution
As outlined above, flooring solutions in the dairy production industry must be able to withstand specific stresses. As a broad rule, polyurethane cement systems are best suited to this industry, while epoxy solutions are suitable in high care areas of these facilities.
Our recommended flooring solution for dairy production facilities is SteriFloor Stärke. Effective in both coolrooms and freezers, with high acid resistance and antimicrobial technology within every layer of the system, this solution is ideal for dairy production facilities. SteriFloor Keimfrei is recommended for high care areas, where optimal hygiene requirements must be upheld.