Designing a warehouse floor can be challenging as this floor is often exposed to the movement of heavy loads and trafficking from hard rubber and steel-wheeled forklift vehicles. There is also potential exposure to deteriorating factors such as chemical spillages, intense cleaning routines and dropped objects. Here are the top three reasons why it is critical to maintain a flat, level and functional surface:
1. Lift trucks can operate at maximum speed
The floor area within a food and beverage warehouse needs to be a flat, level and functional surface. This is because lift trucks can only operate at maximum speed if floors are absolutely flat.
2. Aisle widths can be reduced to optimise space
Besides streamlining the use of lift trucks, the flatness of the floor is also critical when dealing with a high-ceilinged space where the safe operation of high-lifting equipment is paramount. Optimising the space within a warehouse is often a key goal of the client as well as the design team. To achieve this, warehouses are built with high ceilings, aisle widths are often reduced and Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) racking systems are selected for use. This in turn requires specialised VNA Lift Trucks or Materials Handling Equipment (MHE), which can reach heights of 18m or more. The clearance between the sides of the lift truck with the pallet it carries and the racking may only be 100 – 150mm on each side.
3. Health & safety is improved and operator tiredness is decreased
Unevenness in flooring surfaces can lead to excessive vibration on a lift truck, especially when the trucks are moving at maximum speed. With flat floors, health & safety is improved while operator tiredness is decreased. Not only does this reduce the risk of racking collapsing as a result of uneven surfaces, but the risk of damage to stock is also minimised.
Determining the strength and thickness of your warehouse floor
The chosen floor finish has to resist the point loading that the floor will be subjected to. If the floor isn’t strong and thick enough, it will quickly crack, dust and fail, spoiling the flat and seamless finish that is required.
Service life and future use relevance
According to Flowcrete, the thicker the system the longer its service life and the better able it will be to withstand damage from heavy impacts, chemicals and extreme temperatures. It is for this reason that having a detailed knowledge of the site’s future use is necessary to specify the right floor finish. With this information, you can avoid specifying an inadequate finish that will crack when faced with the reality of the building’s workload.
Another reason to avoid specifying a thin coating system is that heavy impact could chip the substrate. This chip or crack could then become an area where oils, water, chemicals and greases infiltrate the underlying concrete and undermine the coating, causing mass delamination and serious cleanliness problems. The higher the chance and severity of impact in the warehouse, the thicker the floor coating should be. Traffic loadings also need to be accounted for when determining the compressive strength of the floor system.
To ensure the warehouse floor is slip resistant, custom aggregates can be broadcast into resin floor coatings. The aggregates can be tailored to various sections of the warehouse. For example, entrances may need a higher degree of slip resistance because rain water might be walked in from outside. Bright and obvious signage can also be incorporated into your flooring system to create clearly identifiable walkways and boundaries. This will also help to maximise the available floor space by marking out the best positions for entry, exit or storage.
Epoxy resin floor coatings have become a popular choice for warehouses. These flooring systems provide a robust, level platform that can withstand the on-site challenges for an extended period of time while providing additional operational benefits. Besides being available in a wide range of colours, epoxies can also be tailored to ensure surface flatness as well as to resist heavy loads, hard rubber and steel-wheeled forklift traffic.
For projects with a tight deadline or sites that can’t afford a long shut-down period, consider resin systems that have been made using methyl methacrylate (MMA) technology as these systems can speed up the floor’s curing time to only a few hours.
For more information, contact Flowcrete on Tel: +27 (31) 701 0017 or via www.flowcretesa.co.za.
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