New Floors are not cheap so why, therefore, skimp on floor care, which if neglected leads to a host of ongoing problems that will affect mobile machinery, productivity, racking, health and safety? The evidence suggests that floor care is still regarded as the poor relation in any maintenance budget but to neglect it could land the premises’ operator with a hefty bill.

The first course of action when installing a new floor is the look for the types of floor that will present the least of problems after years of operation and making sure that the site is well chosen so that the subsoil conditions are sound to begin with. The next course of action is to choose a competent installer because, alas, there is considerable variation in work standards. The third consideration would be to choose the least problematic floor for your specific operation.

A big problem with floor maintenance can occur with crumbling joints so it might pay to go for large, ‘jointless’ SFRC slabs without troublesome saw-cut joints or saw cut-induced contraction joints. The fewer the number of joints the better will be the operational efficiencies. Floor operating life will be further enhanced by choosing VNA lift trucks that do not use hard, small wheels like, for example, articulated forklifts.

It is well to remember that serious cracks in concrete floors pose more than damage to lift trucks and driver fatigue. They can harbour dirt and debris that most cleaning machines could not remove, which becomes a breeding ground for vermin and insect infestation, the last thing that food and pharma warehouses need. For guidance on floor slab problems and how best to address them the Association of Concrete Industrial Flooring Contractors (AFIFC) would be a good first port of call.

One must also remember that the quality of floor joint repairs is variable. In hard working areas where forklifts give the floor a pounding it would be prudent to avoid using just mortar because such an approach could give shortterm results. A long-term repair from Permaban is its recent Signature AR replacement method based on creating a channel into which a replacement length of joint is placed with bonding agent and mortar, allowing forklifts to pass smoothly over in any direction for a long time.

After crumbling joints, uneven floors and, worse still, the dishing kind, are the next tiresome floor problems, particularly worrying in high bay racking where any unevenness at floor level will be magnified at high levels above 10 mt, causing lift truck masts to collide with the racking.

Fortunately, both these problems can be remedied more cheaply and less disruptively than was the case, thanks to laser-guided grinding machines like those from the Cogri Group, and foam injection techniques for dished floors.

When it comes to floor surface finishes these will inevitably be dictated by the level of hygiene needed, a function of the nature of the business operation. In food and pharma premises, where hygiene standards are stricter, resin flooring is the surface finish of choice. They offer a seamless finish, so leaving fewer places for bacteria to hide. They are chemical resistant, dust-free, anti-static and make the complete cleaning process much easier to sustain. Even so, advice should be sought on the floor cleaning machines and the cleaning chemicals to ascertain the recommended frequency of cleaning, which could vary between summer and winter, and the most suitable cleaning agents.

Inadequate cleaning can also adversely affect the slip resistance. A good source to learn more about resin is: www.ferfa.or.uk.