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Cleaning Techniques for Industrial Floor Maintenance

Floors generally comprise natural stones like marble, kota, granite, terrazzo, limestone, sandstone, tiles, epoxy, poly-urethane, wood and vinyl. In majority of the industries, concrete flooring is also used abundantly. No matter how durable the floor is, without proper and dedicated floor care, it could wear off easily.

Food Processing

Effective cleaning of floors reduces chances of contamination of food during preparation, processing, storage and serving. Here, apart from cleaning, sanitization and disinfection play an equally important role. The type of floors used in food processing industry include non-porous and seamless floors like epoxy, polyester, urethane and latex.

The first step in the practical application of a cleaning programme is to render the surface clean. This will reduce to a degree the number of microorganisms present and the surviving microorganisms will be left unfed, unprotected and highly susceptible to final disinfecting and sanitizing treatment.

The various forms of soils prevailing in the food processing industries are as follows:

• Sugar – water soluble and easy to clean

• Fats – water insoluble, alkali soluble and difficult to clean

• Protein – water insoluble, alkali soluble and very difficult to clean

• Salts Monovalent – water soluble, acid soluble and easy to clean

• Polyvalent – water insoluble, acid soluble and difficult to clean

The classification is important to understand which type of cleaning chemical should be used against the type of soil. This is in context to floor as well as equipment cleaning.

In terms of regular cleaning, only microfibre mops should be used for dry and damp mopping. A neutral chemical needs to be mixed with water and used with damp mops. Once the floor is visibly clean, steam cleaners can be used to sanitize the surface. This will take care of regular cleaning. Epoxy floors which can withstand abrasion can be scrubbed with specialised brushes. Make sure to moist the floor completely with some cleaner to increase the productivity and clean better.

In case of liquid spills, over-moulded, gapless squeegees can be used to wipe the surface dry without streaking. These squeegees are moulded from one piece of highly durable plastic in order to obtain a hygienic finish. Nowadays, these high quality plastic tools are auto-cleavable, i.e. they can be sterilised at temperature ranging more than 120oC.

When it comes to a food based soiled surface, an alkali based cleaner can be sprayed on floor surfaces by use of either fixed or portable spraying units using either hot water or steam. This will disengage the soil & degrease the surface.

Micro-organisms which can cause contamination arise out of the dust levels in the air and floor. Normal vacuum cleaners contain polyester filters which can trap dust particles up to one micron. With specialised High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, dust particles up to 0.1micron can be trapped. These filters are extremely fine and are recommended at areas critical of dust.

Steam cleaners, being 100% eco-friendly, are a must in any food based unit. Their ability to function just on water with provision for chemical cleaners is another added benefit. With suitable attachments, they can also dry the surface after deep cleaning and degreasing. Steam can also be used to sanitize food equipment without any hindrance.

Foam is another useful form of rendering floors clean. This method utilizes a concentrated blend of surfactants that can be added to highly concentrated solutions of surface cleaners. It produces stable and copious foam when applied with a foam generator. The foam clings to the surface, increases contact time of the liquid with the soil and prevents rapid drying and runoff of the liquid cleaner, and thereby, improving cleaning.

In order to minimise the risk of cross-contamination during the production processes, it is recommended to have Colour Coded cleaning tools in accordance with Hazard

Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems. Different colour for each major department not only eliminates cross-contamination but also promotes a sense of hygiene.


Pharmaceutical industries have very stringent norms regarding quality control and hygiene due to its nature of business. Airborne particles can be a major source of contamination. Not only can they cause yield loss, the particles can also lead to corrosion and product degradation. Due to its flame, moisture and chemical-spill resistance, epoxy flooring is mainly found in pharma production plants, clean rooms and laboratories.

First and foremost, hard abrasives should not be used to clean epoxy resin floors. These include certain all-purpose cleaners as well as hard scouring pads. Using abrasive cleaners or hard scrubbing pads will dull the surface. If this occurs, the floor will have to be replaced much sooner than originally intended. Also, wax or polishes that contain wax should be avoided.

Regular cleaning should include dry mopping of the area to keep the dust particles under control. Use of good quality dry mops should be used for this task due to their special ability to pick up dust. They could be cotton, acrylic or microfibre, increasing quality wise. Microfibre mops being slightly costlier, will perform the best cleaning and last longer.

Alongside, a flat damp mop can be used for regular cleaning and to wipe spills. Damp mops can be used with water with an epoxy safe cleaner. This should be followed by sanitization, especially in the production floor area. To sanitize, steam with a microfibre floor cleaning tool can be used. In case of sticky soil, proper steam can be used to degrease before running the vacuum. It is an economical yet effective way of keeping floors hygienic. Also, HEPA vacuum cleaners can be used in areas critical to high dust levels. HEPA filters ensure removal of even the finest dust particles and micro dust keeping a check on dust levels.

The dust levels of the production floor need to be kept minimum for which it is recommended to use automatic shoe cover dispensers and boot washers. These control and eliminate the outside dust and dirt from entering the premises through shoes.

Auto Industry

Image, efficiency and safety are the key to maintaining a productive automotive plant. Right from enhancing professional image of a showroom to keeping the production and service areas safe, clean & hygienic, floors play an important role. Due to the type of mechanical operations carried out at an auto industry, floors need to be tough and resistant to elements like oil, chemicals, slip or fire. The ideal material for flooring is concrete, epoxy, poly-urethane and vinyl. Rubberised tiles also is preferred at times due to them being soft yet durable and water, fire and burn resistant along with having sound reducing properties. Floor coatings are an ideal way of ensuring that floors are maintained lifelong. These coatings are highly specialised and enhances the resistance and durability of the type of floors. Also, once the floor is coated, cleaning costs are automatically reduced due to less effort involved in cleaning and maintenance.

There are various cleaning techniques which can be taken up depending on the type of floor and its environment. High pressure washing is a water-intensive technique which is commonly used to remove heavy oil and grease marks from the floors. It can either be of cold or hot water, depending on the surface resistance and the need. It is important to note that high pressure washing should be done where active drain is present for a proper outflow of dirty water.

Cleaning operations differ from industry to industry; the type of the floor also has to be taken into consideration for effective floor maintenance programme

– Siddhant Bhatia

Industrial vacuum cleaners are used for cleaning areas producing high volume of metal dust/scrap. These cleaners are highly specialised and durable to extract metallic waste which is found in abundance at an auto plant. They are also capable of wet vacuuming oils and sludge at machine shops. The regular cleaning includes dry and damp mopping with an alkaline cleaner to keep the floors maintained. It is wise to opt out wet mopping in populated areas as it can cause slipping.

The exteriors of the plants have larger part of dry soil than dirt for which industrial sweepers are recommended. These sweepers are either walk-behind or automatic ride-on, both requiring an operator. These will collect the dust and other forms of dry soil through rotating brushes in a large hopper which can be later taken to a waste disposing site and emptied off. Areas above 7000sqm should be dealt with ride-on sweepers.

Maintenance cleaning should mostly be done during shutdowns, ensuring less obstruction and higher productivity. Auto scrubber dryers are most suitable for this job. They scrub the surface to loosen the sticky dirt like oil marks and grime with their abrasive/non-abrasive pads and then extract it using specialised automated squeegees, thus providing a complete solution. These machines are also either a walk-behind or a ride-on. Areas which are obstructed by immobile machinery should be dealt with manual special tools. A clean production floor will not only ensure a safe and healthy environment for the workforce, but also improve their productivity.

Siddhant Bhatia
Brand Development Executive
Nutech Group

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