Process and Operations

MRO Q&A: Considerations for a New Floor

We’ve assembled a panel of plant operations experts to answer any question you have on plant-floor issues.

We are undertaking a major, multi-year renovation program to upgrade our plant flooring. What is the current thinking regarding major issues we should consider?

Once you have decided to undertake your renovation program, four fundamental issues need to be considered when developing your project: traffic loads, cleaning methods, objectionable odors and compliance requirements.

If your traffic pattern will require heavy loads, you will benefit from considering various underlayment systems for your high-volume traffic lanes. A high-grade textured surface is appropriate for most food plant processing areas since the inherent exposure to food operations and cleaning agents make these “wet zones” potential skid/slip hazards.

Since regular cleaning of floors is part of food plant life, your floors will require a very durable top coating to ensure they can survive the corrosive nature of cleaning chemicals. Probably the most overlooked issue regarding new flooring is the potential for odor emission. This issue usually requires careful consideration to prevent picking up any objectionable odors from your floor coating.

Do not forget to review the latest standards set by FDA and USDA covering the acceptable types of coatings for food plants. Another federal agency to keep in mind is the EPA: make sure you comply with the current EPA requirements for volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. It might even help if you invite your local inspectors to review and comment on your flooring plans prior to installation. Remember, these agencies are required to regularly inspect food processing facilities and make sure your plant is in compliance. Their comments should be welcomed not only for coatings, but also regarding traffic patterns and cleaning methods. Being proactive here can help you avoid any major violations later.