Tom Ricciardelli, president and CEO of SelecTech, talks about technical flooring solutions with Nolan Johnson. Ricciardelli discusses some of the challenges to keeping a grounding floor working in a facility and brings Johnson up to speed on how the company’s flooring systems can be installed without factory downtime.
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Nolan Johnson: Hi, Nolan Johnson here for Real Time with… SMTAI 2020, and I’m sitting here in a virtual interview for the virtual SMTA international show with Tom Ricciardelli, president and founder of SelecTech. Tom, welcome.
Tom Ricciardelli: Thank you. Virtually glad to be here.
Johnson: With so much going on virtual, you’re going to be present at the show in their virtual environment. Tell us a little bit about SelecTech, what you do, and what we can expect to see in your group.
Ricciardelli: Sure. SelecTech is a technical flooring manufacturer. We make foreign products for technical applications, and we’re at the SMTAI when our static stock division, which is our static control flooring product line. We’ll be showcasing all of our products, but our most unique products are interlocking systems, which install quickly, easily, incredibly reliably, and with no disruption. They’re kind of nice for a factory that really can’t tolerate disruption.
Johnson: I’m working on getting a mental image. This is the flooring that just lays out over what’s already there?
Ricciardelli: Exactly. You just put it in on top of what you already have.
Johnson: When you’re dealing with your customers, talking about opportunities, and providing the solutions, what are some of the oddest issues that your electronics manufacturing customers seem to have around technical flooring?
Ricciardelli: It’s interesting. There are a lot of products that end up fading or failing over time, so they stop working from a static control perspective; then, the factory is left with a full factory running production, and they need to fix their floor. To do that with a conventional product, you’d have to empty the factory completely, shot blast the floor—which is a very invasive process and dusty—put in a new floor, and bring everything back. You can imagine that it’s pretty costly, disruptive, and time-consuming. With our product, you just snap it in and on top of what you got. And we have many customers that never even turn their machines off. They don’t even miss a minute of downtime or production.
Johnson: Talk to me a little bit about the technology that you use to manage the static.
Ricciardelli: Basically, you want to essentially electrically connect a person to the ground. It does start with the people having to wear proper footwear because if you wear regular shoes, none of this works, but we put conductive materials in the floor that provide an electrical path to ground. You can’t have too much because you don’t want to have a dangerous ground. It’s just the right amount. It’s not so easy.
Most of the materials we use are graphite-based. Again, they’re blended in unique ratios and combinations, and even pressure and temperature, and all that in our process make a difference. More recently, we’ve started using metallic fibers as this additive, which is new; it’s a whole new product line for us. We’re pretty excited about it. But again, it’s just finding these electrically conductive materials and adding them in just the right amount, so you get just the right amount of connection because you don’t want too much, but you don’t want too little.
Johnson: When it comes to flooring in general, I know maybe it’s true for your part of the industry as well, but there’s a lot of focus on recycled materials.
Ricciardelli: Yes. It’s very funny; we actually started our company as a recycling company. We were trying to find things that people didn’t want to use and turn them into things that people did want to use. We ended up connecting with a DuPont business that was trying to recycle a certain type of vinyl; we perfected it and created a whole product line around it, and then ventured into the static control market using those same formulations. We’re able to use a fairly high recycled content in these pretty technical products. That’s challenging, but then because of the way we make it and that these products aren’t glued to the floor, we can take them back and completely either reuse them or recycle it. We can grind it up and blend it back into new products. And as far as I know, we’re the only company that will actually pay end-users for their materials when we take them back.
Johnson: They can buy their flooring from you, use it for a while, and sell it back to you?
Johnson: That is a different business model.
Ricciardelli: We’re pretty proud of it. I think we made it work. We’re still in business, so I guess it works.
Johnson: What can we expect to see in your booth at the virtual show? What are we demonstrating? I know that if it was the physical show, we’d be able to walk around on your flooring and that sort of thing.
Ricciardelli: We’re going to show some nice videos of our product going in. Honestly, at a conventional trade show, we have a floor installed, and it just sits there, and you don’t necessarily know that it’s got all the cool benefits that it has. But with a video, we can actually show the floor being assembled. And we have a really nice video of a company installing it with their production running. They never shut down, with their production personnel doing the installation, and they’re making a lot of progress really fast. I actually timed it, and they were installed at a rate of like 150 square feet per hour, which is very high. Not only can they do it without ever shutting down, but they can also do it really fast.
Johnson: That’s going to be a huge benefit then for the facilities that are looking at your product.
Ricciardelli: It is.
Johnson: Very little to zero downtime, and then, at the same time, they have got their floor upgraded.
Ricciardelli: The other thing we’re going to try to do is we’ve taken a very committed leadership role and static control industry. We’re members of the ESDA, which is the Electrostatic Discharge Association. We sit on committees that write the standards. I chair the foreign committee at this group. We’re very active. And one of the things we try to do is promote education because we do often run into end users that don’t understand what they need. We have to start with that.
A couple of things we’ll try to do virtually is show people how to test their floor. Which meter do you use, and how do you measure how your floor is doing? It’s not a very complicated test, but not a lot of people know how to do it. And if you have a static control floor, you really kind of need to know how to do it. We’ll be doing some of that stuff. I’m pretty excited about it.
Johnson: That’s great. It sounds like that’d be a great opportunity. Somebody can check in with you learn a little bit about what to do. Go check their floor, come back, and talk to you.
Ricciardelli: Yes. I think it’s going to be great.
Johnson: Fantastic. Tom, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. This has been very informative.
Ricciardelli: I’m glad. Thanks for talking with me.
Johnson: I hope people stop by and see you in the virtual booth.
Ricciardelli: I hope so.
Johnson: For Real Time with SMTAI 2020, I’m Nolan Johnson. Thanks for watching.