Leading the line

12 December 2012

Chris Hopkirk from ASG Services explains how choosing warehouse linemarking often leads to some form of compromise.

Chris Hopkirk from ASG Services explains how choosing warehouse linemarking often leads to some form of compromise.He advises understanding the key priorities for your business before making an informed decision.

When it comes to choosing the right internal linemarking solution many customers are bewildered at the information they get. It's important to keep in mind the key elements that impact on the decision making process - money, time, disruption to operation, and durability. A lot of the time customers have to make a compromise between these elements. For instance, some customers are too busy to wait for the materials to cure.

However, the downside of completing the job speedily can be lack of durability.

There is no right or wrong way but unless you have all the information you cannot make an informed decision. The key is for the supplier to provide the customer with the options available and prompt the right questions, such as how long will it last? Will it affect food? How long will it take to cure? The answers to these questions will determine the solution to deploy. The main solutions are as follows.

Unprepared line marking: This is applied onto a bare concrete floor that has been cleaned. This solution can never be guaranteed to last long particularly within a high forklift usage area. This is because the materials flake away from the floor as apposed to wearing down from the top. It can be the right application on wood decked mezzanine floors or pedestrian areas.

Acid etching: This preparation is rarely used due to its harmful effects on the environment and potential health & safety implications. This method does not remove much of the top coating of the concrete, although it will get the floor pristine clean. It does not give you a good surface for the paint, which means it is not particularly durable.

Scabbling: Scabbling machines are very aggressive using tungsten tipped wheels which bounce off and smash the concrete surface. They leave grooves in the floor and leave an untidy finish. They also do not remove the entire surface completely.

They are good for removing previous coatings or adhesives from previous work.

Vacuum shot blasting: Larger shot blast machines are difficult to run in a straight line and every machine gives a fuzzy edge.

The edge is therefore only partially prepared. This causes paint flake or bleed issues on the edge, depending on the application type. Using a two part epoxy, shot blasting is a good economic solution and is the most common preparation. Depending on usage and impact by mechanical handling equipment will last from 1-3 years.

Floor grinding: Used as much as vacuum shot blasting which requires a generator the floor grinder uses a diamond head that spins on the concrete to remove the top surface of the floor. It is not as aggressive as shot blasting but is easier to paint. However dust does remain on the prepared surface.

Diamond floor shaving: This is the most consistent form of preparation for line marking (not solid walkways) providing the best finish achievable for this type of floor marking. These shavers create an extremely straight line that give an excellent standard of prepared surface for a high build epoxy resin to be applied to.

A floor shaver removes 1-2mm from the surface which exposes fresh concrete. It is the most aesthetically pleasing preparation and will last three times as long as shot blasting preparations.

With all these preparations a paint material is required to finish off the solution. The choice of material is important for durability but also in respect to curing times and its impact on the operation.

One part floor paint/ aerosols: These are solvent based products and when drying the solvents evaporate leaving as little as 50% of material. This makes the finished product less durable.

One part acrylic is particularly good when marking unprepared concrete. It has good key characteristics believed to be because the solvent attacks the concrete when laid. This paint is an ideal solution for application by roller on unprepared floors. It can also be used on shot blasted lines.

Due to the solvent content in normal conditions, its drying time can be 2-6 hours. Careful consideration should be given to times of the year when temperatures may drop as the solvent will evaporate more slowly, making the installation slower than usual.

This is also not suitable in stores where food is open to the environment, as the evaporating solvent taints the food.

UV floor coatings: High performance, instant cure coating systems for concrete floors and used with either shot blast or diamond ground preparations. Characteristics include instant curing, skid and tire mark resistance, odourless, near-zero VOC, can be applied in cold temperatures, and safe for use in the food industry.

Two part high build solvent free epoxy resin: An excellent material for internal linemarking on a prepared floor surface either shot blasted, diamond ground or diamond shaved. The product cures to 100% solid i.e. all that is applied remains on the floor. Curing time is generally 24 hours at 15 deg C. The longer the curing time the less chance the paint finish will mark.

The key to choosing an appropriate linemarking solution is to understand there is almost always a compromise involved. Once this is acknowledged and understood, identifying the right solution for you should be straightforward.