ESD Flooring; the definitive guide to an anti-static factory floor
ESD floor tiles are used in a broad range of UK facilities, from the industrial factory and warehouse environment to everyday commercial and even office space. With more and more interconnected devices and equipment being used every day at work, and server rooms getting larger and larger, employers are turning to the dissipative qualities of ESD flooring tiles and mats.
ESD installation is a convenient and affordable way of distributing the excess static charge that gets generated every day by UK workers in hundreds of different facilities. So what is ESD? How does it work, and how do you know if it is right for you? Read on for a comprehensive rundown of everything you need to know about achieving a static free workplace.
What is the difference between anti-static and ESD flooring?
If you are looking for a flooring solution that deals with static then it’s important that you understand the difference between anti-static and ESD. They both prevent a person from building up a charge as they walk across the floor, so they do not get a shock when they touch something that conducts electricity. However, the top layer of an anti-static floor has a coating that dissipates static across its surface, so you never build up enough charge to get a shock, whereas ESD is a much more robust solution that delivers far greater longer term results.
How do ESD floors work?
ESD flooring gives a much higher level of protection than anti-static matting. This is because it is actually grounded. Ecotile ESD tiles, for example, have millions of small stainless steel fibres running all the way through them. The tiles are then laid out on top of a conductive grid. We then lay earth points every 80 -100 m² so that the electricity flows out to the conductive grid. This is much better than anti-static matting because our stainless steel fibres run all the way through each tile, so their conductive performance never diminishes.
Why should I choose an ESD floor?
You would install ESD floors in static sensitive areas such as printers or packaging manufacturers, and anywhere that deals with combustible materials. Anyone working in these environments is far more susceptible to shocks and their associated dangers. However more and more general offices and industrial environments are choosing ESD for its superior dust and noise reduction qualities and smart contemporary appearance. They are also incredibly durable and hardwearing.
What causes static build up?
Static electricity builds up on the surface of any non-conductive object that rubs against another similar non-conductive object. Wool rubbing against rubber, such as a rubber soled shoe moving across a wool or (even worse) nylon carpet will cause static to build up on BOTH surfaces. One of the objects will become positively charged while the other object will be negatively charged.
What objects can hold a static charge?
Even objects you wouldn’t expect to hold a charge can be culprits of ESD. This includes wood and wood products such as desks and even cardboard boxes, styrofoam and items such as clothing. Even our own skin holds a charge.
What type of environment needs ESD flooring?
ESD floor tiles are widely used in industrial and commercial premises. They provide a safer, cleaner and more efficient working environment. Warehouse and factory managers like them because they are also hardwearing and can easily take regular impact from heavy machinery and forklift trucks. However they are also prized for their dust and noise reduction properties.
They are particularly important in places where people and components are susceptible to electrostatic damage. This could be anywhere industrial that handles combustible materials or electronic sub-assembly areas.
Modern office environments also benefit. Carpeted offices allow workers to build up a static charge as they walk around causing friction between their shoes and the carpet. As soon as they touch something conductive, such as a metal door handle or filing cabinet, they get an unpleasant shock, so office managers are increasingly looking at ESD as a simple solution.
Humidity is also a factor. People working in air conditioned environments are more vulnerable to static shocks because the air conditioning sucks all the moisture out of the air.
How are ESD floors installed?
All floors are different but we use a unique interlocking floor tile system that allows us to lay floors quickly and with minimum disruption. If you have raised access flooring, so you can lift it to get to the cables running underneath the floor and you have lots of electrical equipment and a server room you would definitely benefit from an ESD floor.
When installing an ESD floor it is important that people entering the area wear the correct footwear or heel straps to ensure the connection between the person and the floor isn’t broken. Everyone should also wear white coats as electricity can jump and it is possible to damage electrical components this way without realising.
To find out more about ESD flooring for your business, speak to one of our industrial and commercial flooring specialists. Every facility is different so they will be able to find out about your unique circumstances and advise you on the simplest and most convenient method. Our team has years of expertise so you will be getting some of the best advice in the industry and could soon be on your way to enjoying all the benefits of a static-free ESD performance workspace.
Lucinda O’Reilly, Exports & Marketing Director is an integral part of the team that has grown Ecotile Flooring in to the successful manufacturing business it is today. Over the last 20 years she has successfully employed her skills in sales and marketing to ensure Ecotile Flooring is recognised as the market leading manufacturer of PVC interlocking floor tiles. Lucinda’s love of travel means the Ecotile brand is dominant all over Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and India.
To ensure compliance with export regulations Lucinda has gained accreditations from the Chamber of Commerce in Incoterms & Export Licence Controls and Export Procedures & Documentation and has completed the Institute of Export course on Incoterms 2020. She is a member of the Institute of Export, was a finalist in the Natwest Open to Export competition in 2018 and was instrumental in Ecotile Flooring winning a Queen’s Enterprise for International Trade in 2017. Lucinda has recently been interviewed by BBC News and Channel 4 News for her insights on Brexit and is an Export Champion for the Department for International Trade.