chaz1Warehouse and factory floors harbour a host of sins and snares and they still lack the respect they deserve. Some companies go for unnecessarily complicated and expensive solutions while others try to cut corners and end up with floors requiring expensive maintenance or complete replacement within a short time. When choosing a floor the first concern must be usage. Will the floor covering ordered stand up to the expected abuse. Other considerations are appearance, life expectancy and repairability. Floors should be looked at in terms of cost per year, not just cost per square metre, just as forklifts should be assessed on life cycle costs rather than initial costs.

Good, well-maintained, marked and cleaned floors not only deliver a safer working environment but they can also improve worker productivity, as with slip-resistant pvc matting, and reduce wear on materials handling equipment.

A key concern in high bay, very narrow aisle installations must be floor flatness. A few millimetres adrift on the aisles’ transverse floor will be magnified many times over at racking heights of 12mt or more, leading to collisions with VNA trucks. Other problems include floor degradation caused by corrosive oils, slippery surfaces, potholes, uneven joints between floor slab sections, which could halt wire guided trucks and, perhaps most serious of all, complete floor dishing.

There are, of course, treatments for all these problems but the snare is trying to avoid the unnecessarily expensive solutions. An example was work undertaken by the specialist joint repair division of Concrete Grinding to repair two main 24mt transverse construction joints at Blum UK’s Milton Keynes premises. Blum had originally considered major structural repairs to the slabs, which would have taken at least six weekends and been very costly and disruptive. Instead, it chose Concrete Grindings’ solution to stabilise the joint edges by pumping a high-strength resin foam into the void beneath them, cutting back the joint arrises to a depth of 50 mm and then rebuilding the joint with a high performance epoxy matter. The whole contract was completed in one weekend at a much lower cost.

But just how costly choosing the wrong repair solutions can be is probably best illustrated by the first UK foam injection carried out by Uretek UK in 1989 at an Eastbourne warehouse built on an old river valley with 100ft deep soft soil having a load bearing capacity of only 1 lb/ft2. The whole floor had dished by five inches at its worst point. This led to costly handling problems.

Before considering Uretek, the Eastbourne company looked at alternatives of rescreeding the floor, installing mini piles through the concrete slab floor, and  ripping out the old floor and installing a new load bearing slab on new piles. Mini piling would have cost £1m in 1989 values, and a new load bearing slab £0.75m.

The Uretek solution was to pump foam through half inch holes drilled 12ft to 15ft apart in a grid pattern around the sunken, sloping areas to produce a lifting force of 40t/mt2. Levelling accuracy of 1:1,000 can be achieved. The Uretek method was originally contracted to cost £52,000, with no significant disruption to warehouse operations. So far, Uretek has used its system on over 4,000 applications in the UK.

The moral is clear. Choose the right floor for the conditions, look after it and it will look after you.

Warehouse & Logistics News

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