ESD Floor Test – Why is it so Hard?

I just returned to the office after completing a test area for a contractor on an existing floor at his construction project.  The floor was in a room that was being remodeled for reassignment, to be used as something different than it previously had.   He called us in to see if there was anything that could be done to clean the existing floor from years of use.

Previously, the room had housed equipment for one of the processes at this particular facility.  The flooring is an electrostatic dissipative tile (ESD tile) that helps control the static electricity that may damage sensitive components in all kinds of equipment.  It’s not cheap to replace and since no walls were being reconfigured, it made sense to clean-up and refinish the existing floor before installing the new equipment.

We had initially provided a figure for cleaning this ESD floor a few weeks ago when it was just an empty room.  There was obvious buildup surrounding areas where equipment sat for years, and some areas where equipment had rusted causing some stains, but overall, the floor was in good shape.  It just needed the right kind of attention.  We were not selected for the job.

Our general contractor used another cleaning company to perform the work, and the final result was disappointing.  Our GC was now hoping for a better result by bringing us in to fix what should have been completed by the first company.

He said. “I don’t know what you’re going to do different.  They used everything on it and they even tried scraping it but that stuff just won’t come off!  If you can’t get it, we’ll have to replace the floor.”  He then proceeded with a short list of the cleaners that they had used in their attempt to clean the floor and remove the buildup.

(I used to get irritated when this happened, being undercut by some lowball operator, but now I see it as one of my best sales tools).  I just love being called in to fix or improve the poor results from someone else’s shoddy work.  It happens a lot and when it does, I get the opportunity to share my unique skills.

I tested our process in one small area approximately 4 feet by 8 feet and the result was astounding.  These are the photos I took before and after the test.  Some construction materials have been moved into what was an empty room so it looks a little cluttered.   The overhead lighting was off while the electricians were doing something above the grid so they look a little dark.  But the difference is very noticeable.

VCT before and after shots

The Facilities Director, the Facilities Manager and the Building Engineer stood; slack jawed, with the contractor at the difference in the floor that they knew had just been “cleaned” by the other company.  “Night and day!” was the comment. And they approved the additional funds to get the ESD floor done… again.

I guess the reason that I thought this worthy of a post, wasn’t that we could get results where someone else didn’t, (obvious) or even that the contractor tried to save money by using a cheaper company, (Heck, I like to save money too).  My issue with this whole thing is that the cleaning company didn’t know what they were doing.  Once the contractor listed the products that the cleaners used, I knew right away that the product choices they made were not going to be effective on the type of soiling that would be present in this type of facility.

It seems that cleaning companies don’t, or won’t, train their people.  This was a simple job and it took me longer to bring in the equipment and get set up to do the work, than it did to get the dramatic result you see here.  And the customer is the one that suffers.

We see it all the time.  Budgets cut to the bone (and even deeper) and cleaning companies in a frenzy to pick up work (that they may or may not understand) and failure and disappointment are the result.

This ESD floor is now scheduled for us to do next week.  It will look great.

I’ll post some pictures when it’s all wrapped up so you can see the full effect.

Carpet Kev out

A floor guy today!