Tag Archives: Andrew Mentis

SUB-STANDARD HANDRAILING A SAFETY CONCERN

In this tough economic climate purchasing decisions are, in many cases, based on price alone. This is of major concern as individuals with little understanding of the technical aspects behind a product such as handrailing can unwittingly compromise the safety of people.

Dean Weil, operations executive of Mentis Africa, cautions those making this type of purchasing decision to carefully review its selection of handrailing more thoroughly.

“Cheaper handrailing invariably means that thinner material is being used,” Weil says. “This could have a serious impact on the safety of personnel working on the plants where the product is installed. Thinner material being used in handrail manufacture obviously impacts on its structural integrity and will affect its strength over the long term.”

“In the event that the sub-standard product fails, the consequences to the company concerned could be much higher than the original savings it managed to achieve,” he says. “It makes good business sense to buy products of the correct quality, with sound structural integrity, that will contribute towards a safe working environment.”

The quality of handrailing systems in South Africa is governed by an industry standard arrived at by independent authorities, based on numerous tests to determine the correct material and specifications that ensure handrail is able to withstand a certain level of pressure and force. This includes the stanchions or uprights, as well as the horizontal rails.

The standard accepted base plate in local industry for a stanchion or upright is, for example, 10 mm thick, in order to deliver the appropriate load-bearing support for the stanchion and meet all safety requirements.

“Bases are being made available to the market that are only 8 mm thick,” Weil says. “Someone without sufficient technical knowledge could easily assume that a difference of just 2 mm cannot make a significant difference to the integrity of the product. Yet tests have proved that a 10 mm base is almost twice as strong as an 8 mm base.”

According to the industry standard, the bottom tube of the stanchion should have a wall thickness of 2.5 mm. Weil says the same applies here — inferior products with wall thicknesses of 2 mm and 1.6 mm are currently being put into use. Again, tubes with the specified 2.5 mm wall thickness have been tested and shown to be at least 20% stronger than the 2 mm and 1.6 mm tubes. The top tube should also have a minimum 2 mm wall thickness, but inferior products with a wall thickness of 1.6 mm are presently being utilised.

Handrails for industrial and general purposes should normally be of the two-rail type — comprising a handrail and a knee rail, supported on standards placed at suitable intervals. Handrailing should preferably, and always in areas where there are stairs, be continuous and have no obstruction on, above or near to it that could obstruct people’s hands as they move along it.

The recommended clearance between a handrail and any wall or object behind or below it is 65 mm.

Mentis Africa is the leading local manufacturer of high quality grating, expanded metal and handrailing systems in South Africa. With a legacy that goes back more than 70 years, today the company operates a comprehensively equipped facility in Johannesburg which is ISO accredited.

QUALITY IMPERATIVE IN ENGINEERED WALKWAY PRODUCTS

In any working environment where the safety of people depends upon the quality of the products used for walkways, cutting corners could be a recipe for disaster.

As a leading local manufacturer, Andrew Mentis has over 65 years’ experience in the manufacture of walkway products and the company is probably best qualified to comment on this. This is according to Lance Quinlan, national technical sales consultant at Andrew Mentis, who stresses that the use of a quality manufactured product is imperative.

“We have a solid track record of quality manufacture when it comes to engineered walkway materials including RS40 grating, expanded metal and Die Line. We simply do not compromise when it comes to quality,” he says.

Quinlan explains that when it comes to walkway products, it is a case of horses for courses. Probably the most commonly-known of all walkway products in industry is the Mentis RS40 40/40 floor grating.

“This is our number one premium brand, and is often considered the floor grating to have,” he says. He notes that the product has the kind of top-of-mind awareness in its market similar to which Hoover has enjoyed in the vacuum cleaner market.

The most important factor in flooring is the load-bearing capacity of the product. The design, engineering and manufacture of steel floor grating products have particular relevance to their structural integrity, and floor grating should always be viewed as an engineered product. It is formed through a process of compressive locking of the load bearing flat bars (bearer bars) and the round bar transversals to form an exact 40 mm2 pitch with openings of 35,5 mm x 32,4 mm and is designed with specific load-bearing characteristics.

Quinlan notes that expanded metal also has a wide range of flooring applications, and is ideal for catwalks, conveyor and access walkways and platforms. Good examples are walkways on large billboards, which need to ensure safe access to the billboard, as well as maintenance walkways on process plants.

Expanded metal walkways are lightweight and self-cleaning, have non-slip surfaces, interlocks at the joints, and hence no butt welds, as well as allowing the passage of air and light. Durable industrial flooring with excellent underfoot conditions is possible with expanded metal walkways and flooring from Andrew Mentis.

As a complete industrial flooring supplier, the company can help customers identify the most appropriate flooring solution for their application requirements.

Another of its products, which is ideal for incline conveyor walkways in particular, is Die-Line. This lightweight and economical walkway system offers flexibility in walkway design, is easy to erect and has excellent non-slip characteristics.

This range of positive grip-pressed section walkways is designed as complete walkway sections with integral kick-plates formed as a single unit. The elimination of heavy stringers or separate kick plates makes Die-Line quick, easy and safe to erect. The sections are designed for longitudinal spans and have a high strength-to-mass ratio.

“Emerging contractors are also increasingly using the company’s products as they become more aware of the safety concerns when it comes to walkway products,” he concludes.

MENTIS GRATING AND HANDRAILING BEAT CORROSION IN WASTEWATER INDUSTRY

Wastewater traveling through sewer lines can become anaerobic or septic as a result of the metabolic processes of microbes commonly found in the wastewater. Specific sulphate-reducing bacteria thrive in these conditions and generate hydrogen sulphide (H2S) as a byproduct of their respiration.

H2S has a low solubility in wastewater and when it escapes from the wastewater and moves into the air, it is easily recognised by its characteristic offensive, rotten egg odour. It can also be responsible for severe corrosion problems and toxic conditions within wastewater conveyance and treatment facilities.

Andrew Mentis produces a range of corrosion-resistant floor grating as well as handrailing systems in galvanised, 304 stainless steel and 3CR12 options that are ideally suited to the extreme conditions found in wastewater treatment plants. This Mentis grating is engineered to suit situations where strength to weight ratio is important, such as wastewater treatment plants, while the Mentis handrailing product is designed for optimum safety.

Lance Quinlan, national technical sales consultant at Andrew Mentis explains that the water and wastewater industry often creates a slippery environment for operators and technicians. “Vapours, water and chemicals create slick underfoot and handhold conditions near large machinery and tanks,” he says.

“Safety is paramount in this type of environment. Weakened handrailing and floor grating, caused by corrosion and damp, can result in slips, trips or falls,” Quinlan says. “In addition, replacing broken or corroded handrailing or floor grating results in unnecessary downtime which can impact negatively on productivity.”

Galvanising or using stainless in a wastewater treatment plant is not only a safe and cost effective option, but it does not compromise the aesthetics of the environment.

Mentis’ Rectagrid RS40 40/40 floor grating is manufactured using a pressure locking system pioneered by the company. The locking characteristics guarantee the structural integrity of the product and further enhance its integrity in a corrosive environment.

The transversals on the floor grating are positively and permanently locked to the bearer bars and the locking method at the intersections is designed to use the full depth of the bearer bar when calculating loads. This attention to detail ensures that the load bearing capacity is top of mind when design and manufacturing is undertaken.

Mentis stainless steel tubular handrailing is reputed for its corrosion and stain resistance qualities. The stanchion base plates are designed to allow moisture to drain from the stanchion itself, adding further credence to its corrosion-resistant benefits. These handrails are not only functional, but also resilient and durable.

The tubular handrailing system is complemented by a range of standard angles and matching accessories, with different bends and end closers adding to the versatility of the product. The stanchions are 42.9 mm diameter by 2.5 mm wall thickness specifications, and are also available in 3CR12, 304 and 316 stainless steel polished to a satin finish.

MANY ADVANTAGES WITH STAINLESS STEEL HANDRAILING

Safety of personnel and hygiene continue to plague a number of market sectors and the cost in downtime and lost profit to companies amounts to thousands of Rands every year. Both issues can be addressed using stainless steel handrailing.

Lance Quinlan, national technical sales consultant at Andrew Mentis, explains that stainless steel tube offers many advantages to the manufacturing, petrochemical/chemical, food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

“Apart from its high levels of corrosion resistance, stainless steel can be used in rigorous environments, retaining strength at high temperatures,” he says. “Its non-porous properties offer a hygienic surface which, when coupled with its easy cleaning ability, makes the material the primary choice for applications that require strict hygiene control.”

The aesthetic appearance of its polished surface provides a modern and attractive appearance for most architectural metal applications. Stainless steel is easy to maintain and provides improved corrosion performance offering a long useful cycle.

Quinlan says that handrails are expected to meet both aesthetic requirements as well as structural safety, and stainless steel will not deteriorate as rapidly as mild steel will in exterior or industrial installations with aggressive pollution and/or chloride exposure.

“Rusting handrailing can be a major factor in accidents, and using stainless steel in potentially hazardous environments increases the safety factor,” he says.

Andrew Mentis provides a variety of handrails in three alternative grades: 3CR12, 304 and 316 stainless steel. Stanchions on the Andrew Mentis stainless steel handrails are 45 mm in diameter with a 2 mm wall thickness. Base plates are designed to allow moisture to drain from the stanchion itself, adding to the corrosion resistant benefits. The centre hole for the knee rail is drilled and then flared on both sides. The top is also flared and a half round cap is welded into place. The base plate is 8 mm thick and welded to the tube.

Hand-, knee-rail and bends are manufactured from 31.8 mm diameter tube with a 1.5 mm wall thickness. Bends and closures have swaged ends, improving speed of installation and preventing moisture from penetrating into the joints.

“Typically, the more corrosion resistant Type 316 stainless steel handrails are the most cost effective choice in demanding environments. They require minimal maintenance, no paint or coating and provide safety and an attractive appearance. The service life of carbon steel and aluminium is typically limited by corrosion damage, which reduces structural integrity and appearance,” Quinlan says.

He points out that an important aspect of structural integrity is the perceived ability of a handrail to withstand the load associated with one or more large persons or individuals accidentally falling against or climbing on it. In general applications, where corrosion is not a big factor, stainless steel handrailing can remain in situ with little or no maintenance, for many years. In more corrosive environments, for example close proximity to the sea or in locations with aggressive pollution and/or chloride exposure, 316 stainless steel provides a major maintenance cost savings over other handrail types.

“Customised advice by our team of technical specialists ensures that the best handrail material is selected for the customer’s specific application. Factors such as environmental conditions, amount of human traffic and aesthetics come into play and dictate the final product used. Solutions for even the most arduous conditions are available,” Quinlan concludes.

MENTIS ENGINEERED NON-SLIP FLOOR GRATING GAINS TRACTION

There is a trend away from serrated grating because while it is suitable for some applications, there are others where over an extended period it will no longer provide the underfoot traction required to ensure safety.

Floor grating is never a case of one size fits all, and according to Lance Quinlan, national technical sales consultant at Andrew Mentis, in certain applications the serrated feature on the grating surface becomes filled with grime. “This means that the serrated edge, chosen for this specific feature, no longer functions as a tractive surface and does not provide adequate grip,” he explains.

Andrew Mentis has more than sixty years’ experience producing floor grating at its ISO accredited manufacturing facility and is known as the benchmark product across Africa. Quinlan says it is always important to not only consider the finish of the floor grating selected for an application, but also critical to look at how the grating is being manufactured.

Mentis Flat Top floor grating is manufactured from slit coil material which provides the major advantage of having the flat top finish for which this product is named.
This is unlike other manufacturers in the industry where the top of the flat bar has a rounded finish due to the manufacturing process at the mills. The disadvantage of the rounded top is that it will give little to no grip underfoot.

In addition to its Mentis RS40 (40/40) floor grating which is considered the benchmark product across a range of industry sectors, Andrew Mentis, long ahead of the curve when it comes to providing solutions in floor grating, has also engineered a specific floor grating product that has a unique positive/raised non-slip characteristic on the flat bar section.

“While we do offer the serrated top if requested, we prefer to supply positive non-slip to our customers,” says Quinlan. “By serrating the bar the strength of the grating can be reduced by up to 25%. We see that as an uneconomical use of steel which does not translate into value for our customers.”

By manufacturing the flat bar section with this unique raised dimple feature, Andrew Mentis has provided a grating which offers a far better tractive surface than just the plain Mentis flat bar grating and the Mentis serrated grating, while retaining the same strength as the flat top product.

Mentis Rectagrid RS40 (40/40) Non-Slip grating is available ex stock in panel sizes of 2400 mm by 1200 mm. And importantly, for customers who have specific application requirements the floor grating can be tailored to meet the specific drawing requirements.
It is also available in mild steel unpainted, bitumen painted and galvanised.

This highly engineered floor grating product is produced at Andrew Mentis’ world class facility at Elandsfontein, Johannesburg.
The company offers a full technical advisory service to assist to customers in the selection process, and Quinlan says this service has become increasingly popular with industry.