Industrial flooring might seem like an uncomplicated concept from the outside, but those in the know who make recommendations on specification for the type of concrete flooring solutions used, know how intricate and critical the selection of the right type of concrete floor can be.
When specifying a flooring solution for a warehouse or distribution centre, it is important to choose a floor that will enhance productivity, reduce downtime due to maintenance, reduce repairs to forklifts and reduce slip and trip risks.
Understanding the benefits and liabilities of different types of concrete floors is vitally important and can help the project team responsible for designing a floor to make informed, long-term decisions about the floor. It is important to note that although cost-saving is an important factor, specifying inexpensive or cheaper alternatives during the design phase of the floor could prove to be more expensive years down the line. Taking the life-expectancy of the floor into consideration, it is important to keep the intended use of the floor in mind – for example a heavier trafficked floor would need more strength and durability than a non-loadbearing floor.
Logistics and supply chain experts generally look for ways to maximise and optimise the use of space in warehouses and distribution centres. They propose techniques such as reducing aisle widths, ensuring higher eaves and selecting VNA (Very Narrow Aisle) racking systems. In these instances floor flatness becomes crucial to ensure the optimisation of these high racking systems.
Correctly specified and achieved floor flatness will ensure the safe operation of high-lift forklifts. An uneven floor would lead to all sorts of operational problems – the uneven surface would cause the forklift to rock and sway and even bump into the sides of racking. The operator would have to slow down to avoid this and to avoid the danger of personal injury which in turn would directly affect productivity. The health and safety of forklift operators and other operational staff is paramount to the success of the operation and correct floor flatness ensures maximum productivity.
Productivity rates in these warehouses and distribution centres are also an extremely important factor to consider and the rate of productivity is measured up to the second for each forklift and since the performance of a forklift is measured by the speed at which it can travel on the concrete floor , the flatness of the floor becomes an even more important factor.
Floor flatness also reduces the risk of damage to stock through “load tipping”, which could be caused by an uneven floor.
With the vast increase in operational traffic on industrial floors due to modern productivity demands, floor hardness becomes an important factor as well. Resistance to abrasive wear from imposed loads is provided through specified surface hardness which allows for longer life of concrete floors.
The frequency of floor maintenance is another important factor when specifying a floor that is safe and functional since certain types of floor require more frequent maintenance than others. This will lead to longer downtime and a decrease in the overall productivity of the operation.
It is important for a health and safety manager/risk manager to keep all of the above in mind when considering a new floor for a warehouse or distribution centre to minimise the risk of accidents and damage to goods as well as the health and safety of the employees working within the warehouse and distribution centre environment.