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Focussing on the floor-drainage connection

12 November 2017

Andy Buchan discusses the initial findings of a three-year research project to look into floor-drainage connections and the implications for system specification. 

ACO Building Drainage joined forces with flooring manufacturer, Sika, to undertake this research project. Why? Because hygiene is critical for any food processing business and the challenging environments present in today’s food and drink manufacturing facilities require the ongoing development of new hygienic resin flooring solutions and advanced hygienically designed drainage systems.  

Like other elements within a manufacturing facility, the flooring and drainage systems used will affect each other’s performance.  Even when flooring and drainage systems are performing well, failure can occur at the connection between the two. Failures such as cracks, elevation of floor plate edges and delamination can occur because of specification errors which include failing to consider the chemicals that will be used in the manufacturing environment or choosing the incorrect type of drainage. Common failures and the risks associated with operating conditions have to be considered during the specification process to prevent costly failures in the floor-drain connection which ultimately lead to costly downtime and critically, can compromise hygiene but until now no formal research has been conducted to identify the compatibility of common floor-drain connections and to develop best practice specification guidelines.  

Providing evidence-based guidance
The research was conducted to address this issue and to allow Sika and ACO to provide clear, scientific, evidence-based guidance for food and drink factory operators. 

Testing for the research document took place over a period of three years. It involved testing the performance of different drainage edge types with a variety of different flooring materials.  Research was conducted into the three main exposure scenarios that are most relevant to food and drink processing operations.

• Mechanical exposure in areas which experience heavy traffic from fork-lifts and pallet trucks.

• Thermal exposure caused by the use of hot water in processing and when cleaning using jet washers.

• Shrinkage of concrete floor mats which is commonly seen on the top of concrete, screed and resin mortar flooring applications.

Testing equipment was developed specifically for each scenario to ensure high levels of accuracy. Requirements including aesthetics, hygiene, cleanability and ease of installation were also factored into the design of the floor-drainage connections being tested. 

ACO developed a new rig for the purposes of mechanical exposure testing.  The rig enabled the performance of different elements of the floor-drainage connection to be evaluated when exposed to loads generated by vehicular machinery and handling technology commonly used in food and drink manufacturing facilities. A thermal exposure testing rig was also created to conduct tests according to EN 1253 specification and the Institute Tazus in Brno in the Czech Republic provided a testing rig that enabled the simulation of concrete shrinkage.  

Two types of standard edge drainage profile and two types of flooring – Polyurethane (Sikafloor-326 + ColorQuartz + SR-169 PUR elastic and self-levelling compound with sand surface) and hybrid (Sikafloor-21 PurCem cement screed modified polyurethane) – were used in tests. 

Key findings
Preliminary findings show that there are better outcomes when a certain type of drainage profile is specified with a specific flooring type in specific types of application. For example, in typical warehouse applications with a thermal load of no more than 25°C, standard edge drainage profiles connected directly to the flooring perform best.  In contrast, in applications where traffic loads of up to 5 tons are present and thermal loads are above 40°C, drainage with an L-profile edge proves to be the better performer, being resistant to both the thermal and dynamic shock present. 

The initial findings clearly identify the best floor-drainage connections for a range of manufacturing environments.  This information has enabled ACO and Sika to develop clear specification guidance and that means food and drink manufacturers will be able to maximise the durability and hygienic performance of floor-drainage connections in their facilities, both factors which are critical to business continuity and ultimately to protecting public health.  This research, along with other research studies we are undertaking, will also inform future product development and ultimately help our customers put hygiene first. 

Andy Buchan is managing director at ACO Building Drainage.

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