Peel-off/tacky mats are synonymous with floor level contamination control. You know the ones, they're cheap to buy and easy to implement. Simply place down, step on and peel when you feel it looks 'dirty' enough or in line with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) - box ticked for that part of the contamination control strategy. Is it really a box ticked?
Unfortunately, the effort to source, purchase, use, peel, replace is completely wasted if you're serious about contamination control efforts at floor level. 3M suggest that 80% of floor level dirt and contamination is tracked into buildings on the soles of shoes and when you consider that the average person walking at a speed of 2mph can generate 5 million particles per minute (0.3 micron and larger), Prout, G., 2009)), it's an incredibly important aspect of control to get right. Therefore, ineffective floor level contamination control can have sizable impacts on product yield, productivity, costs, quality and reliability.
Below is intended to be a quick review explaining why a polymeric flooring solution such as Noopli is worth serious consideration. The reference material within this opinion piece can be found attached at the bottom.
According to a study by Gerry Prout, 'particles of the greatest significance and most numerous within critical environments are less than 10 micron in size'. To put this into context, the human hair is anywhere between 50 and 150 microns, with bacteria from 0.5 to 50 microns in size. It's critical a solution is able to capture and retain this size of particle and reduce it's transfer into critical areas.
A study at Bath University in 1996 (referenced by Gerry Prout) found peel-off mats are relatively ineffective when compared to a polymeric solution in relation to capturing particles less than 50 microns in size. This is illustrated below:
Additionally, it was found that new polymeric flooring and one that was over a year old was very effective at reducing 2 - 25 micron particles within a controlled area. Whereas peel-off mats reduced by a relatively little amount at 25 micron but actually increased particle counts from 2-10 micron.
The composition of peel-off mats inherently affect the performance of contamination capture and must be properly managed i.e. peeled regularly. This is because they're typically manufactured using acrylic adhesive and during usage the mats become 'clogged' with captured particles, therefore, any other contamination 'captured' simply rests on the mat surface, with a high likelihood of being re-transferred back onto an operators foot and into a critical area.
Regular peels equates to greater waste. Gerry Prout gives an example of a US plant where 10 areas of peel-off mats were replaced with polymeric flooring over a 2 year period. It was found that the use of washable, polymeric flooring saved approximately 18 tonnes of raw material, 3-4 million MJ of energy used to manufacture peel off mats and with the assumption of incineration after peel-off mat use, the emission of green house gasses (CO2) in manufacture and disposal reduced by over 120 tonnes.
Polymeric flooring such as Noopli can be readily recycled after it's working life into less critical uses.
A working example - Noopli Self-Install vs. peel-off mats
A simple comparison can be performed to illustrate upsides in size, performance and cost when using Noopli Self-Install vs. peel-off mats. For this example we are comparing in € and using a 1.15m x 0.66m peel-off mat vs. 1.2m x 1.0m Noopli Self-Install, installed for 1 year:
Cost per case €126.50, 8 mats per case and 30 sheets per mat = €0.53 per sheet.
Cost per mat = €720.
We strongly recommend the more surface area you can cover the better. However, if this is not possible and you require a quick solution, use Noopli Self-Install. In this example, you are receiving a 36.8% increase in contactable surface area - with the peel-off mat at 0.76m2 and Noopli at 1.2m2.
- Antimicrobial - Peel-off mats are typically composed of acrylic adhesive on polyethylene film, with no ability to inhibit pathogens that come into contact with its surface. You may find some higher end peel-off mats from manufacturers such as 3M that have antimicrobial properties, but these can be very costly and still relatively ineffective. Noopli is impregnated at the point of manufacture with antimicrobial additives, enabling the effective inhibition of bacteria and fungi when captured and retained on the Noopli surface.
- Wheeled traffic - Peel-off mats are not recommended for use with wheeled traffic, whereas Noopli Self-Install is able to accept loads for up to 200kg.
- Overstriking - For maximum effectiveness, peel-off mats need to be peeled frequently. Operators can pick up contamination from an area where others have stepped upon (overstriking), tracking increased amounts of contamination into controlled environments (Prout, G., 2009). Noopli will continue to retain contamination after multiple overstrikes, so even if the mat has not been cleaned as per SOP, it still has the ability to perform at a certain level and provide protection.
- Overshoe tearing - If overshoes are part of your protocols, peel-off mats risk hindering this. They have a very good high initial tack and this has the ability to tear overshoes as they stick to the mat surface, exposing the covered shoe. Nooplis surface also has very good, sustained tack levels but will release the overshoe once stepped of off - enabling effective capture and retaining of particles but leaving your overshoes in one piece.
- Cleaning - You clean a peel-off mat by removing a layer. This relies on the operator carefully peeling to ensure it doesn't; rip, peel more than a single layer or most crucially, releasing contaminants back into the environment. Noopli is incorporated into your cleaning SOP seamlessly - no special cleaners or arduous cleaning method. Just agitate the surface to release the contaminants, remove from the mat, pick up and dispose. Easy.
There is a direct relationship between peel frequency, performance and cost. The less you peel, lower the cost and higher the risk of contamination transference. More you peel, higher the cost and lower the risk of contamination transference.
Let's look at the following scenarios and see how it would compare to Noopli:
Each scenario would be typical of strategies we have seen within operations. In relation to contamination transfer into critical areas, Scenario 1 would clearly be the higher risk out of the three with scenario 3 being a lower risk. Unfortunately and most worryingly, the scenario we have seen most often when discussing existing processes and procedures with clients is scenario 1.
Looking at the comparative costs, Scenario 1 provides a cheaper alternative than Noopli, by 19.6% in this example. From a cost perspective, this would be seen as a win, but from a performance perspective (with consideration of all the points we have made above in this opinion piece) this can create a real problem when trying to control ground level contamination. Scenario 3 goes some way to limit transference, due to more regular peels, but this exponentially increases costs - 141.2% increase vs. Noopli Self-Install and a 200% increase in costs vs. scenario 1.
These costs, admittedly compares the cost of the solution only and does not consider labour costs for peeling and disposing of peel-off mats, nor the cleaning of Noopli. For simplicity with the above example, we have set the labour costs as equal. In reality, there would be costs that need to be considered, but as Noopli can be incorporated into existing SOPs without any marked difference to the way and time taken to clean, we find that costs of labour between the two solutions to be negligible.
We hope that this has given you some insight into how Noopli compares to peel-off mats from a variety of perspectives. Noopli is a superior performing solution that adds significant value to your operations, whilst giving marked savings when it comes to operational costs. The above example is just one of many and of course has many variables that can affect the comparative outcome.
A note on Noopli Self Install
Noopli Self-install is installed by clients at site in under 2 minutes and provides superior capture, retain and reduction of viable and non-viable contamination.
We always advocate as large an area as realistically possible to enable as many footsteps and wheel rotations as possible. If there is scepticism around a polymeric based solution we have found that using Noopli Self-Install as a short term (1-2 year) replacement for a peel-off mat is a recommended solution - this provides a cost effective evaluation to occur. Once the solution is proven we recommend a move to Noopli Walk or Noopli Pro, both are installed solutions by trained service technicians, offering bespoke sized areas as well a 3-5 year working life.
For more information please go to www.noopli.com/self-install
Prout, G., 2009. The nature and the environmental impact of control of floor level contamination. European Journal of Parenteral & Pharmaceutical Sciences, 14/1, 13-18.