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What you can expect from a technical services department

What you can expect from a technical services department
Steve Thornton

Published by Steve Thornton - Technical Manager - Wall and Floor

Steve Thornton has almost 30 years of experience in the flooring industry. Starting out as an apprentice floor-layer, Steve acquired a wide range of installation expertise over two decades. He moved on to project management, followed by several years as a National Technical Manager before joining Bostik as a Technical Consultant.

Most manufacturers have a technical services department, but what exactly do they offer the customer? Technical services provide support in many different forms and, while the exact offerings may vary between companies, you should take advantage of the materials and support that are freely available.

In most instances, technical services departments are contacted when there is a question about how to use a product or to find out whether a product is suitable for a particular application. Sometimes, key information like this can be found within the product’s Technical Data Sheet (TDS), while other details are within the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). You may need to request these documents from the manufacturer – most produce a TDS for each of their products, while legally all products with a potentially hazardous or chemical component must have an SDS. Many are now available on the manufacturer’s website; Bostik has a searchable database and a TDS or SDS can be downloaded from each product page.

“You should take advantage of the materials and support that are freely available”

But good technical service can offer so much more than this.

We are here to help and advise on many different aspects of flooring installations: generating upfront recommendations for the application of floor preparation products and adhesives; testing and assessing subfloors for moisture and integrity; advising on the conditions in which an application should take place; providing training on application and product selection, all the way through to aftercare and defect resolution.

By highlighting some of the key functions of a technical services department in a little more detail, I will hopefully provide an insight into what you can expect when you work with a manufacturer’s technical team.


Writing recommendations for projects is a key function of a technical services department. The goal is to provide an in-depth assessment of any given project, large or small, and advise on the correct products and procedures to ensure a long lasting and integral application is provided for the customer and end-user. But simply writing recommendations is not enough to guarantee this, so there are several actions we undertake to make sure we have gathered all available and relevant information – only then can we be sure we’re providing the best possible service and advice.

Site visits

When technical consultants visit a project, they may carry out:


External inspections – primarily, a visual inspection is completed; this starts before we even enter the project. We assess the building from the outside, the immediate environment and the overall impression given. We will talk to the site team and project managers to ascertain as much information about the project as we can.


Internal assessments – once inside the project, we assess the floors and internal environment, looking for factors which will impact our recommendations or may require more bespoke solutions. This could include temperatures, humidity, joints or cracks, differing substrate interfaces, window size and orientation, and the surface finish of the substrate. The list is extensive.


Moisture testing – with all projects, the identification of the presence of moisture is critical. Moisture testing in accordance with the relevant British Standard will be undertaken in all instances and will always require multiple visits to each project.


Further testing – based on our observations and findings, we may undertake further testing. On-site testing may include drop hammer testing, pull-off testing, carbide bomb testing, or checks on surface regularity to name but a few. These are all designed to provide us with the most accurate information to correctly advise on the best course of action.



We cannot understate the importance of training. Whether it be on product performance and suitability, system selection or application processes, the training is paramount. Technical services departments will provide support for their customers, continually striving to ensure the users of their products fully understand the importance of selecting the correct solutions for their projects, why these particular products have been recommended, what environment they require for their successful application, and exactly how to apply them to the highest standard.

The nature of what training a manufacturer can offer will depend on their facilities, as well as the size and experience of their team. Some manufacturers have their own dedicated facilities, but depending on the location you may find it more convenient to receive training at your own premises or on site. Increasingly, manufacturers are able to accommodate remote training, so you should consider what would work best for you and then compare different manufacturers’ offerings.

“Training days should … incorporate as much hands-on learning as possible”

Often, training will take the form of a one or two day course where products, systems, application processes and industry standard information will be communicated. It is not enough to simply tell people though: to get the most out of a training course, attendees need to be able to get involved. Training days should, wherever possible, incorporate as much hands-on learning as possible. Whether it’s applying a smoothing compound, spreading adhesive or mixing a DPM, manufacturers all want to see their products being used in the best possible way on site. We would rather see trainees fail in the training room so they can get it right once they’re on a client’s project, and by the time they leave us we expect people to be full of confidence.

There is another side to a technical services department, and that is when something goes wrong!

Failure investigations

From time to time, members of a technical services department are asked to attend a project that has suffered a failure. It is the role of the technician to assess the affected area and determine the mode of failure. Technical services consultants have the knowledge, experience and analytical support structure in place to comprehensively and accurately inspect any failed installation and provide a concise written report and conclusion.

Initially, the technician will utilise their own knowledge and experience to begin investigations. In-depth knowledge of the products and the methods needed to apply them will, more often than not, allow for quick identification of commonly observed modes of failure.

Should the true cause not be obvious at the time of inspection, then samples will be removed from the project and submitted for laboratory analysis. It is the combination of laboratory findings and the observations made by the visiting technician during the site inspection that will ultimately allow an accurate assessment of how the failure occurred.

The right technical support can make a huge difference to the success of a project but the type and amount of support a technical services department offers can vary between manufacturers. When something has gone wrong is the worst time to find out that the manufacturer can’t help in the way you would like. Therefore, it’s crucial to research up front and find out what your chosen manufacturer can provide to make sure you are receiving everything you need.