In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic there is certain to be unprecedented scrutiny paid to hygiene standards applied in sectors such as food and drink manufacturing.
This is vital to keeping operational staff safe and just as importanty, protecting the consumer at the end of the supplychain. In such sanitary-critical environments, good quality, smooth, easy-to-clean walls and flooring can play a large part in maintaining cleanliness levels.
In areas of food and beverage production floors and walls are under continual stress from water and chemicals, temperature changes and cleaning agents. Therefore, whilst they need to be hygienic and meet strict health and safety standards, they must also be chemical and slip-resistant, repairable and have an ability to withstand climatic variations, as well as high mechanical loads and wear.
Fit for purpose
With major supermarket chains regularly auditing their supply chain, meeting the needs of the food industry’s floor requirements can be quite a challenge. This can be overcome by selecting a system that is specifically designed to uphold hygiene and safety standards.
Previously, ceramic tiles were seen as suitable surface coverings for commercial
kitchens and the like. But as a flooring solution in a sector with such rigorous and demanding requirements they provide their own set of problems with tiles becoming dislodged, chipped or the grout breaking down during steam cleaning processes, resulting in hygiene implications. Vinyl surfaces, due to the joints therein, can also be a harbinger of dirt and bacteria.
Representing about 4% of the floor covering market in the UK with an estimated annual market size of 7.1 million, resin flooring offers a hygienic, impervious alternative to traditional flooring types in industrial environments, such as those pertaining to food and beverage manufacturing plants.
In these environments, where robust cleaning measures are a must, flooring is also potentially exposed to corrosive chemicals. Service temperatures can vary from 120°C to-40°C, while surfaces often have to withstand forklift trucks and other heavy machinery and equipment. Sika has developed a range of solutions which are ideal for such demanding operational circumstances. Its resin floor systems and hygienic wall coatings utilise the best available technologies by meeting and exceeding client expectations, industry-best practices, building regulations and legislation relating to areas of comestible production.
Sikafloor® PurCem® flooring system is a polyurethane-modified cement screed offering excellent strength and reliability. Highly resistant to chemicals, fatty acids and temperature, the system is water-based which usually requires no primer, so its installation is considerably less complex than many other systems, producing a joint-free surface that is slip and abrasion-resistant. The system’s non-slip element is vital, particularly in relation to breweries, for instance, which require heavy duty floors in kegging halls where barrels are filled and maneuvered around before being stacked. Surfaces in these areas are almost permanently wet; therefore slip-resistant flooring is essential for staff and visitor safety. This can be achieved with flooring which is either hybrid of polyurethane and cement – as per Sikafloor® Purcem® 20, a high-performance, heavy duty polyurethane-hybrid flooring screed – or comprises vitrified tiles set in heavy duty adhesives and epoxy grout.
The importance of flooring which provides improved stability for employees should not be underestimated. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause over a third of all major injuries and can lead to other types of accidents. Such incidents can be traumatic for the staff member involved, as well as damaging to their company in terms of reputation and compensatory costs.
Smart and practical
As well as helping the food and drink industry to pass audits with flying colours, Sika systems can meet individual design requirements for other areas of a food production facility such as offices and commercially trafficed areas. ComfortFloor® Marble FX, a new addition to the company’s ComfortFloor® range, is a unique decorative system. It has almost limitless design possibilities and can be tailored to incorporate colours, patterns and imagery to suit a particular need. It means as well as helping uphold the highest hygiene standards, ComfortFloor® Marble FX can be used as a promotional tool by bearing a company’s logo or an inspirational marketing message within a food production site or a commercial service facility such as a restaurant or a stadium hospitality area.
As the world adjusts to life following the global pandemic, public confidence will be key to a return to a semblance of normality. This will be particularly crucial to our economic recovery. In commercial terms, the food, drink and hospitality industries were hit hardest during lockdown with pubs, restaurants and other ‘non-essential’ leisure and retail outlets the last to be allowed to open. As custom returns to bars and eateries, people will need to feel assured that from food production plant to restaurant dining table, the highest standards of cleanliness hygiene were observed. It’s a huge responsibility for all those involved in the supply chain, but it’s a task that Sika’s hygienic wall and flooring range was created for.
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