The international steel shortage and subsequent price increases have led to the manufacture of fibreglass gratings as an alternative to steel grating says Fibreglass Grating Company MD Jay Behrmann.
Traditionally, galvanised steel has been the accepted material for gratings. However, owing to the high costs of steel installations and maintenance, frequent replacement and steel's susceptibility to corrosion and rust, alternatives to steel are being sought. Steel grating is also heavy and difficult to handle, steel surfaces can be slippery and gratings can conduct electricity, posing a potential hazard to worker safety.
Behrmann comments that fibreglass grating requires a once-off installation which means that no replacement costs are incurred. The benefits of fibreglass gratings include strength and durability. Its ability to absorb the impact of heavy weights means that the structural integrity of the grating is maintained. The fibreglass gratings do not conduct electricity, have a nonskid surface and are lightweight, making them easy to handle and install.
Fibreglass gratings are corrosion resistant, do not rust and are almost maintenance free. Since the gratings are moulded in colour they do not require painting. Fibreglass is durable and, if applied to the correct chemical-use specification, can last for more than 20 years.
Gratings can be cut to size using a circular saw and lightweight fibreglass installations do not require a crew of operators or heavy equipment. Fibreglass grating installation, labour and equipment costs are estimated to be less than one-half that of steel grating installation costs.
Because fibreglass gratings are usually used in environments that contain corrosive chemicals, three types of resin systems are available in order to ensure that the fibreglass grating used for a specific application is appropriate considering the chemicals the gratings will be exposed to.
The Fibreglass Grating Company offers resin systems such as Viccor, IFR and Corvex, according to the temperature, chemical and corrosive requirements of the application.
Fibregrate is used in the chemical, commercial, food, beverage, manufacture, base metals and mining, microelectronics, oil and gas, offshore, pharmaceutical, power, pulp and paper, telecommunications, transportation, and the waste and wastewater industries.
The Fibreglass Grating Company has supplied fibreglass gratings to top mining houses, where chemicals would corrode steel grating. About 3 000 m2 of Viccor fibreglass grating was supplied to a gold mine last year, and about 900 m2 is currently being supplied to a platinum mine.
The Fibreglass Grating Company supplies fibreglass materials to African markets and projects in countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Mali.
The Fibreglass Grating Company has its branch in Johannesburg, and delivers to main centres in South Africa.
About 10 000 m2/y of fibreglass is imported and distributed locally. In its fibreglass product range the company also supplies ‘cat' ladders, cable trays, handrailings and structural shapes.