Installing flooring that controls and prevents static discharge requires products and services that are highly specialised and of supreme quality.
When leading mobile provider Cell C recently moved into their new head office in the Waterfall Business Estate in Midrand, they needed to have static dissipative (SD) flooring installed at their world-class Advanced Repair Centre in order to lessen static in the designated space.
“Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is a problem that cannot be ignored,” states Tandy Coleman-Spolander, Marketing Director of Polyflor SA. “Something as minor as the scuff of a shoe or the scrape of a chair creates an electron imbalance, and although the resulting discharge may be so small that the human body cannot feel it, it can nevertheless have serious consequences.”
In highly sensitive areas such as telecommunication repair centres, ESD incidents can often cause material, component or system failures, which prove costly and unnecessary. “The Polyflor ESD range of flooring has been specifically engineered to combat this problem at the source, by facilitating a uniform flow of static electricity directly to a ground point,” explains Tandy. “Our range covers all major applications, and includes SD, EC (electrostatic conductive) and conductive ROF (royal ordnance factory) floorings, each of which combines static control properties with hard-wearing and decorative qualities.”
Polyflor’s specially designed SD flooring was selected and installed due to the fact that it is a hard-wearing, homogeneous floorcovering specifically engineered and manufactured to include antistatic agents within the formulation, which are always present at the surface of the material. The antistatic agents are hygroscopic and attract moisture from the atmosphere and combine with the moisture to form an ionic compound which permits the passage of electricity across the surface.
According to Tandy, it is highly specialised flooring that has been engineered for use in areas where static control is required, but the resistance level of the floor does not need to be as low as that provided by a conductive floor. “SD flooring must be used in a controlled environment with a relative humidity of more than 40%,” she continues. “Typical areas of use would be operating theatres, computer centres, instrument control rooms, repair centres and production areas.”
Recognising the importance of installation, Polyflor partnered with the Altico division of Actum Electronics, who offers a comprehensive range of static control solutions and can be enlisted to conduct audits of premises prior to specification, install flooring, and finally test the flooring and provide certification.
“Concrete is a poor conductor of electricity, and this type of floor covering therefore needs to be laid using a conductive carbon-based adhesive to glue down the vinyl sheeting, and then earthed in order to drain the discharge,” says Tandy. “To this end, an aluminium strip was placed on the cement sub-floor, in a grid of the recommended shape. The floor was installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions governing such flooring, as well as Standard BS 8203:1996.”
In conclusion, Tandy emphasises the importance of a good partnership and shared values, which are crucial when aiming to exceed the expectations of one’s customers. “Like Cell C, both Polyflor and Actum work hard to understand their customers’ needs better than anybody else and providing tailored solutions that go beyond merely selling a product or installing a floor,” she says. “For us, it is about forming a lifelong partnership every step of the way along their flooring journey.”