The OKI Telecom manufacturing facility needed significant repairs to its moisture-damaged concrete floor before an ESD system could be installed.
Sika Corp. The OKI Telecom manufacturing facility needed significant repairs to its moisture-damaged concrete floor before an ESD system could be installed.

In 2003, the OKI Telecom management team invested in a protective electrostatic discharge (ESD) flooring system to eliminate static electricity from the production floor at its Suwanee, Ga., facility where the company manufactures automotive electronics, cellular phones, and personal communications systems. But just as things like ESD can damage electronic components, long-term exposure to moisture can short circuit a protective ESD flooring system.

Jay Bruce, technical sales representative for Sika Industrial Flooring in Lyndhurst, N.J., and Tom Means, a concrete repair and coating contractor in Marietta, Ga., noticed a serious moisture problem with the concrete floor that OKI Telecom was not aware of that would have compromised the new ESD system.

“Thumb-sized bubbles were appearing throughout the existing floor of the production facility,” says Bruce. “When pressed, the bubbles burst open with water. With this moisture problem, any type of coating would have failed.”

There were an estimated 8000 water-filled bubbles throughout the floor. Excess water vapor emissions coming through the concrete slab had completely delaminated the floor covering. “The problem had to be resolved before we could address the ESD issue,” says Means. Moisture is a critical component in concrete's curing process, but it must either reach a stable level or be treated with a vapor block before flooring products are installed.

Means started by removing the moisture-damaged epoxy by diamond grinding, followed by a shot blaster that created the needed profile for bonding to Sika PR-14 WB Kwik Prime. All edges were diamond ground by hand while the terminating edges were sawcut and chased. After the primer was applied, a single coat of Sika Vapor Block at the minimum 60-mil thickness was power troweled to close and compact the concrete.

Once the moisture issue was resolved, the team applied the ESD system. After a light grinding removed residual power trowel marks, a dissipative primer was applied to absorb and ground the static charge via a series of brass strips installed every 1000 feet and grounded to an electrical outlet or steel pole. Finally, a topcoat was applied for a beautiful finish that has withstood several years of OKI Telecom's heavy production and warehouse traffic.

“The proper sealing of a concrete slab can eradicate problems caused not only by excess moisture migrated upward, but from other sources such as plumbing leaks, or exterior grading,” says Means. “Our extensive prep work and Vapor Block are the reason OKI's floors continue to outperform expectations to this day.”

The work on the warehouse was done nearly five years ago, and the floor continues to perform well with no ESD or moisture issues. “I did a walk through recently at OKI with newly hired facility manager,” says Means. “He was not even aware there was once a moisture problem with the flooring. I'd say we did what we set out to do.”