Stop contamination in its tracks


Polymeric flooring should play a vital part in an integrated contamination control programme, argues Dycem

In the automotive industry, contamination can cause problems that range from outright failure to cosmetic defects. Engineers in automotive facilities are increasingly aware of the need for cleaner manufacturing in order to improve product yields and reduce costs. Paint failure caused by contamination is believed to be the number one cause of defects and is responsible for the highest re-working expense. The task of painting defect-free – with defects being considered 5µm and above in size – is challenging from a contamination control perspective. The "automotive paint" area includes several elements, encompassing automotive manufacture, assembly plants, parts plants, and body shop environments. To avoid paint blemishes caused by particulate contamination during the painting process it is essential to prevent the ingress of contamination.
Component failure Similarly, automotive electronic assembly divisions can also have problems with contamination, because contaminants and particulates entering delicate components cause them to fail and can involve huge re-working expense. In order to maintain the highest levels of cleanliness it is essential to prevent the ingress of particles that exist in the surrounding environment. It is believed that 80% of contamination enters the critical areas through entrances and exits, mostly at or near floor level .1-2 Polymeric flooring and mats, such as those produced by Dycem, based in Bristol in the UK, have long been recognised as an effective route to preventing floor and wheel-borne contamination from entering critical environments. A research study by Dr Caroline S Clibbon shows that Dycem contamination control floor coverings and mats are over 99% effective in preventing contaminants from entering a critical area.3 Further tests by M-con Technologies have revealed that Dycem contamination control flooring and mats reduced contamination at levels critical to operational height by 60%.2 Dycem has several customers within the automotive industry that are using its contamination control mats and floor coverings as part of an integrated strategy to significantly improve product yields and provide competitive advantage. One such key supplier to the automotive industry that prepares, sprays and finishes moulded plastic body parts has installed large areas of Dycem flooring and as a result has dramatically reduced dust in the spray areas which has, in turn, ensured that top quality finishes are achieved. The company has also found the flooring easy to clean and maintain. Similarly, to help ensure impeccable performance of racing cars, a major manufacturer uses the mats to help reduce contamination in the assembly areas for suspension and hydraulic units. The different Dycem lines of flooring available include: • Clean Zone – an effective contamination control floor covering suitable for light wheeled traffic and heavier pedestrian flows. This can be laid to any length or width, offering the option of full room coverage. Once permanently installed it remains effective for up to five years. • Work-Zone – a practical answer to heavyweight contamination control problems. This is the first contamination control floor covering specifically designed to remove contamination from forklifts, pallet trucks and other heavy-wheeled traffic. All these products are silicon-free, dioctyl phthalate-free, non-outgassing and non-particulating. They are simple to install and remain effective for up to five years. These types of floor covering and mat systems should be used at all entrance and exit ways to critical areas, corridors, changing rooms and airlocks in order to control particulates or static contamination, and should play a vital part in an integrated contamination control programme.