It’s that time of the year when warehouse maintenance, or lack of it, becomes more problematic as winter time will bring more contaminants arising from inclement weather like snow and slush being brought inside. With that, if floor maintenance is neglected, comes a rise in accidents, which in 2015 saw 7,600 people endure serious injuries from slips and trips, leading to broken bones. Over 13,000 had similar accidents, causing at least seven days off work.

Adequate floor cleaning obviously plays a large role in preventing accidents and presenting a good image to employees and their customers but it seems all companies still struggle to find the time to clean adequately, or otherwise treat floor cleaning as a low priority.

Depending on how they are built, some floors will pose bigger floor cleaning problems than others. ‘Jointless’ floors, for example, involve far fewer joints compared with traditional floors with many sawn-cut joints, which over time means the latter will see more joints cracking up, and if they are large enough will fill up with debris and encourage infestation that floor cleaners may be unable to deal with effectively.

Likewise, the seamless nature of resin means the number of joints required is minimal, compared with more traditional floor finishes, including tiling, which can have many grout lines and potentially harbour bacteria. But resin finishes have several other advantages. They provide good impact resistance and resistance to boiling water. They offer high levels of slip resistance in both wet and dry conditions. The degree of antislip properties can be varied to suit specific work conditions where water, grease or oils are present. Provided they are well-looked after the durability of resin floors can last 10 years but if they are used in food applications they should be tested by Campden BRI as a nontaint, food-safe product.

Choosing the degree of floor cleaning mechanisation will depend heavily on the size of storage and handling areas and no one size fits all but generally speaking the larger the area the more suited it should be for mechanised sweeping, a task that should be carried out before any other type of cleaning, like mopping or scrubbing and drying so that dust and debris are moved first. If finding the time to clean adequately is a problem then a combination scrubber, drier/sweeper can sharply cut the time taken. If the cleaning environment involves the need for a range of different cleaning machines then it would make sense to choose a supplier with a comprehensive range, who should also be prepared to provide free, on-site consultations and put its equipment into a live trial before buying. It should also offer lease and short-term hire nationwide.

Robotisation has been making inroads into the warehouse market for decades but can a case be made for the cleaning function? ICE, a large provider of industrial cleaning machines for 50 years, believes so. It has produced the ICE Robo 2 robotic scrubber/drier, equipped with laser and sensor technology to detect its surroundings and so is perfectly at home with people walking around. If necessary it will return to any areas that have been missed. The only human intervention is for filling the machine with water, switch on and take it to the area to be cleaned. ICE calculates that based on a 2.5 hour daily clean, seven days a week, Robo 2 will give a swift ROI of about 40%.