If a warehouse floor slab is the foundation on which many other devices and safe practices rely, to neglect their care, still widespread in the industry, is false economy and even risks prosecution. Two typical excuses for such neglect are no money in the budget and intolerance towards dusty, noisy disruption. If there is no money in the budget then it begs the question should one be in the warehousing business. Moreover, the dusty disruption issue is far less a problem owing to advances in floor treatment techniques.
With new floor construction issues the best results will derive from good planning and this must include a robust selection process for the floor installer because not all installers are up to scratch. Initial work should include adequate soil testing and proper earth compaction to avoid any floor dishing owing to sub soil floor voids. If using such a stricken floor, once a nightmare that involved costly and disruptive pile driving, there are now foam-injection techniques from Uretek and Concrete Grinding that are far quicker, cheaper and less disruptive than pile driving. These inexpensive methods can also be used when clients are looking at new facilities where an increased floor load is required.
There are two types of concrete floor slab techniques, the traditional and the ‘jointless’. The former involves many sawn-induced joints every six metes or so but the ‘jointless’ slab will have metal armoured construction joints every 40 or 50 metres and as often as possible placed away from areas of heavy traffic. Given that joints are the greatest cause of floor problems in a modern warehouse , subsequent maintenance costs, not just on the floor but also interfacing equipment, can be significantly reduced if a ‘jointless’ floor is used, and at the same time improve safety and hygiene. Cleanliness can be a vital issue in food and pharma warehouses and production areas because any wide, breaking up floor joints can harbour a host of diseases which floor cleaning machines may be unable to deal with effectively. In a worst case scenario a food retailer might have to recall certain foods owing to lifethreatening contamination and woe betide the food supplier if the source can be traced back to it.
Neglected floor joints involve more than higher maintenance costs, accidents and damage to materials handling trucks. They can also affect productivity because they impose slower speeds on trucks, which commonly could be as much as 50% owing to breakdown of sawn-induced joints. If a floor with much fewer joints is chosen there is also an environmental dividend. This derives from a combination of optimal fibre designs and environmentally-friendly reinforcing that allows a thinner floor slab than the traditional mesh alternative and thus less use of concrete.
While floor joints deterioration may be the most common of floor problems, floor flatness can be another issue if thinking about moving from wide-aisle operations to narrow aisle or VNA owing to the risk from truck mast collisions with racking at high-level operations. One remedy that minimises disruption and cost is the use of laser-guided, grinding machines rather than applying selflevelling compounds. Another alternative is floor screeding that could be less time-consuming than floor grinding methods.
Slips and trips, the most common cause of injuries at work, on average cause over a third of all major injuries. Most of these accidents are slips, some of which happen when floor surfaces are contaminated with water, grease or oils, or as a result of uneven surfaces. These risks can be minimised with the appropriate level of slip resistance in the first place and robust steam cleaning and maintenance regimes. A seamless, resin-based floor covering, important in food and drinks premises, will give high levels of slip resistance in both wet and dry conditions and the level of slip resistance can be tailored to specific areas of the food production, packing or preparation process. If well looked after, a resin solution can last ten years, after which it is simply a case of reapplying the product.