There are tried and true reasons why stainless steel is the surface material of choice in commercial kitchens and food prep areas: it’s durable, nonporous, nonreactive, resistant to corrosion and equally important, easy to keep clean. For these and other reasons, slip-resistant stainless steel flooring solutions are gaining traction in food and beverage manufacturing facilities for applications where employee safety is at risk.
Just as all stainless steel is not created equal, neither is all stainless steel slip-resistant flooring.
It’s important for plant operators, as well as safety and maintenance personnel, to consider all variables before committing to a long-term flooring solution.
Some questions to ask when evaluating product choices include:
- Will food, debris, blood or other liquids come in frequent contact with the flooring, and how important is ease of cleaning?
- Is a high coefficient of friction (COF) rating desired or required?
- What levels of foot and equipment traffic will the flooring be subject to, and how important is durability?
Since safety and sanitation are paramount in the food processing industry, floors where food operations are conducted (mixing, canning, slaughtering, cooking, processing) should have a rugged slip-resistant surface that reduces the likelihood of slips and falls. The product should be easy to clean in order to meet food safety and sanitation guidelines. Additional consideration should be given to the durability of the surface given the level of use and types of materials involved.
Slip-resistant metal flooring products are manufactured using a variety of processes, including embossing, flame-sprayed coating and laser-welded deposit technology. The manufacturing process of the product is ultimately what dictates the quality of its performance.
Diamond checker floor plate, for example, is produced by applying an embossed or raised diamond pattern to a metal substrate, such as stainless steel. This design, however, is insufficient for food and beverage processing applications because the pattern does not provide consistent slip-resistant properties in all directions, and it quickly loses its ability to provide traction when exposed to liquids, lubricants, dust and even wear.
As a result, diamond checker plating scores a low COF rating, which is the relationship between the force necessary to move one surface (your feet) horizontally over another (the floor). The higher the rating, the greater the force that is needed to move against the surface, resulting in a lesser likelihood of slipping. When it comes to COF ratings, diamond checker plating scores low enough that manufacturers regularly do not advertise the results.
Flame-sprayed coating products offer improved slip-resistance over diamond plate, but their manufacturing process creates small crevices in the flooring that traps food and debris particles, making them difficult to properly clean. Flame-sprayed coatings also bond at the surface level of the substrate only, so they are more vulnerable to wear.
That leaves us with laser-welded deposit technology.
ALGRIP®, from Ross Technology, is a slip-resistant flooring manufactured using a patented CNC laser deposition process that applies more than 1,000 rugged deposits per square foot in a highly precise uniform pattern. The unique laser-welded deposits penetrate deeply below the surface, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic applications. The raised deposits also offer excellent slip-resistance in all directions. Testing numbers support this claim, as ALGRIP garners a coefficient of friction rating of 0.97.
Another unique feature of ALGRIP is the smooth areas between the raised laser-welded deposits. This helps to prevent liquids from pooling and minimizes trapped food waste, which makes the surface easier to keep sanitary.
When choosing a slip-resistant flooring, decision makers should work closely with all parties—those on the plant floor who conduct day-to-day operations, as well as maintenance and safety personnel—to match the facility’s needs with the right flooring solution to ensure it meets their long term goals along with food industry standards.