As South Africa works on rebuilding its economy, a focus on the manufacturing and retail industries has highlighted the need for large-scale warehousing and storage where industrial concrete floor space is essential.
“South Africa is importing more and more manufactured goods and needs secure space to store these goods for distribution. The well-designed, fit-for-purpose and low maintenance concrete industrial floor is an essential part of durable and reliable warehouse infrastructure to ensure the area operates at optimum efficiency,” comments John Roxburgh, senior lecturer at Cement & Concrete SA’s School of Concrete Technology.
He believes the importance of a sound concrete industrial floor is often overlooked while it should be the main priority for minimising long-term operational costs.
“Industrial floors on the ground typically appear simple in their design and construction but they can be a nightmare for the unskilled. Cement & Concrete SA can testify to that because when it comes to the various concrete elements in a building, the industrial floor is by far the most problematic in meeting specifications and performance requirements and attracts the highest volume of calls for advice and help to the CCSA.”
One of the reasons is that the concrete used for industrial flooring requires very precise and specific properties, including certain plastic and hardening properties.
The mix design for industrial concrete is more constrained, requires greater attention to detail and should: • be the correct thickness. • be level, flat and at the right height construction. • have a hard-wearing dust free surface. • have the capacity to carry large, imposed loads over its entire surface – including across its joints and at its corners and sides. • be aesthetically acceptable with minimal surface defects and cracking.
“A thorough understanding of all the properties of concrete, the influence of material selection, environmental conditions as well as handling and finishing are essential to produce a quality floor. A disregard for any of these factors can result in problems which are normally observed too late in the process to effect change,” John adds.
“The most common problems with industrial floors are cracking, joint failure, curling, dusting, scaling, surface wear, sealant failure and excessive lateral movement by forklifts and pallet jacks. An underperforming floor will slow down forklifts, pallet jacks and reach trucks, and will result in soaring maintenance costs on all packing, stacking and lifting machinery along with more frequent and costly floor repairs. The consequent downtime and need for spare machinery all contribute to less efficient operations,” declares John.
He says to produce a good industrial floor requires a three-pronged approach: 1. The floor needs to be designed and specified correctly. This would include performance requirements, joint layout and specification, level and flatness tolerances, among others.
2. The floor should be constructed by an experienced concrete flooring contractor who can place, compact and protect the floor as well as produce the correct surface finish with the correct tolerances and cut the joints timeously to specification.
3. Finally, the floor needs to be maintained correctly. This would include implementing minor repairs on an on-going basis, keeping the floor free of any material that could damage it, as well as joint maintenance, sealant repair and top-up when needed.
For more information on industrial concrete flooring, contact the CCSA Information Centre: Tel: +27 11 315 0300 Website: www.cemcon-sa.org.za