The floors at the Hitachi Automotive Products facility in Harrodsburg, Ky., originally were covered in a gray epoxy. This made the environment of the 368,000-square-foot facility dark and gloomy. When the coatings would scar and begin to peel after a few years, the company's continuous improvement group would hire someone to remove the coatings and then reapply them.
Hitachi personnel sought to make the removal process easier and originally purchased equipment just to remove coatings throughout the facility once it was time to redo them, thinking they would only use it when necessary.
Eric Stratton and Keith Smith, the floor grinding contractors for Hitachi, opted for HTC Inc.'s 800 HD. When they went for training at HTC and saw the company's Superfloor process, both men wanted to do a sample for the owners, who agreed.
Stratton and Smith are responsible for stripping the old coatings and polishing the floors during the plant's shutdowns. This time they decided that instead of only recovering the floors when the coatings wear down, they would replace all of their floors with the Superfloor polished concrete process.
Both men point to cleanliness and ease of use in explaining the process's advantages. Their equipment cannot be exposed to dirt and dust.
Cutting down on dust
“Before, when the coatings were being removed, there was so much dust, that we had to not only cover our equipment and products, but we would have to try and shield our work areas to protect our products,” says Stratton. “With the HTC vacuum system, there is very rarely any dust and we don't have to wear masks. We hang plastic to separate our work area from our products, but it is nothing like it was before.”
The equipment was very easy to use. “We used the HTC flex plates and the new tooling, which made a big difference and was much better,” adds Stratton.
Hitachi officials have been pleased with the results. The floors' coatings previously were reapplied every three or four years. “One and a half years ago, we did the best coatings on one of our floors that we have ever done, and it already looks scarred and will need to be replaced soon,” explains John Shewmaker, facility manager for Hitachi.
Shewmaker now believes in “restoring,” and not “recovering” a floor's surface. “It doesn't scratch, and we love the maintenance since all we have to do it use a wet mop,” he says. “It is 10 times better than the coatings. The floor is shiny and the lighting in the room has improved.”
The floor especially seems to shine when Hitachi gives tours to customers such as General Motors and Nissan at its tool & dye shop and assembly lines, where the floors glow.