In industrialised nations the expansion of the economy will place demands on space – space to manufacture and store materials and products and space required for the buildings to facilitate these activities.
As the availability of prime space diminished worldwide, warehouse operators began to look at expanding capacity vertically instead of horizontally. It proved cheaper to develop 5 000m² to a height of 12 metres as opposed to 10 000m² to 6 metres high to accommodate a volume of 60 000 cubic metres. This also involved locating racks much closer together across fixed aisle paths giving rise to the term Very Narrow Aisle (VNA).
As the then current standards applicable to concrete floor surfaces were vague and meaningless, it was clear that level and flatness definition and relevant compliance criteria applicable to finished concrete floor surfaces were the areas of greatest weakness.
To facilitate this concept the British Industrial Truck Association, the Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association and the United Kingdom Concrete Society decided to lay down stringent standards to guarantee safe and efficient operation at rack heights never considered before whilst being practically possible to achieve.
Ultimately, the UK Concrete Society published its Technical Report 34 which, in the section defining level and flatness criteria, revolutionised safe and efficient truck operation in Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) environments.
Very Narrow Aisles vary in width from 1,5 to 2,1 metres. These aisles are fixed paths within which turret-type forklift trucks are either guided by wire signal or mechanically positioned by vertical-side guide rails. What distinguishes these trucks from normal forklifts is that the truck body always runs longitudinally down an aisle between racks whilst the forks themselves rotate through 180º to store and retrieve pallets.
Technical Report 34 made it possible for proof of compliance with a very complex set of slope limitations to be unequivocally and convincingly proved by the use of a purpose-designed floor profileograph.
Profileographs were developed to imitate the “footprint” of the truck to be operated in the narrow aisle along a defined path. In order to do this accurately – within a limit of 0.1mm – these instruments need to include a real degree of sophistication in their construction and their on-board software. Depending on the specification required, they must incorporate lateral and/or longitudinal bars to reflect the turret truck “footprint”.
Most important of all – the profileograph must be motorised to enable constant velocity whilst gathering data in runs down the length of aisles.
To ask the question again – are you being mugged? If you operate a VNA warehouse facility and your aisles have been surveyed using a “profileograph” which is pushed or pulled along, or by a “Dipstick” or even by taking elevation readings along left and right wheel tracks at 300mm intervals – you have probably been mugged. Odds are that your floor surface does not comply with the requisite standard.
With each passing day, your trucks will cost more to operate and maintain. Wheels, bearings, chassis welds and guidance systems will be affected by a rough ride.
Far more worryingly, if a catastrophic event occurs – a truck or its load impacts with racking severely enough to initiate a partial or complete collapse – there will inevitably be an investigation.
Unequivocal proof of compliance with appropriate standards and with appropriate floor level and flatness criteria will be required, without which a claim may be rejected. This situation will be more fraught if injuries – fatal or otherwise – are sustained by personnel, and Occupational Health and Safety issues arise.
Royal Consulting Services can do a lot to give you peace of mind with the Face Floor Profileograph, indisputably the most accurate instrument of its type in the world.
If this article has given you food for thought, Royal Consulting Services makes this offer – it will use its profileogaph to survey any three aisles in your VNA warehouse at their expense and furnish you with the results.
If the survey confirms the compliance you believe you have, you can relax. If not, it will be up to you to commission a full survey at your expense and to present the results to those responsible for construction of your floor on the basis that a breach of contract may exist which will require remediation to protect your interests.
If you care enough about protecting your warehouse environment and your investment in equipment, don’t let a poor quality concrete floor be a cause for regret a year or two later.