26 May 2020
Selecting the right building flooring solution for your industrial facility is a crucial decision because choosing the wrong one will impact workers’ health and safety negatively. While there is little to no issue in choosing to floor for aesthetics, it is as important to look into how your flooring solution contributes to creating a safe and code-compliant workplace. Among the most critical criteria are non-slip properties, (as relevant) the bunding ability and traffic handling, and even its self-levelling potential.
In this article, we will explain the importance of each of these considerations and how you can evaluate them to ensure you make the right choice you’re your industrial floors.
Industrial Building Flooring: The Basics
When designing floors for warehouses, factories and other industrial facilities, engineers, architects, and building owners generally concern themselves with the ability of the floor to withstand different stressors. After all, these types of locations are always busy with foot and equipment traffic.
The strength of the surface should be unquestionable as to avoid excessive flexural stresses that could result in the cracking of the substrate. Furthermore, the floor design must be able to withstand excessive bearing stresses on the concrete surface; excessive shear stresses due to concentrated loads; differential deflections at joints; and excessive deflections due to settlement of the substrate itself. These things are important, as if they fail, or are damaged then the result is in an interruption in the use of the facility, which could potentially affect the production capacity as well as the profitability of your operation.
Factors to be Considered When Looking at Industrial Flooring Options
Keeping the things stated above in mind; builders and designers must be prudent when it comes to selecting the most suitable design for a facility’s flooring. Below are some of the most important factors that should be taken into account when deciding solutions for industrial floors.
- Purpose of the space. Facilities are created to serve a specific function, thus requiring a particular type of floor. For instance, warehouses — where light to heavy forklift trucks or other industrial vehicles with pneumatic tyres are found — will more likely require floors with steel trowel or broomed and tined finishes. Laboratories and administrative spaces, on the other hand, will a light-textured and seamless finish to reduce the surface areas where particles can get trapped. For facilities such as repair workshops and heavy engineering premises, surfaces with special aggregate monolithic toppings are required to be able to withstand the traffic of heavy solid-wheeled vehicles or steel-wheeled trolleys whilst also providing strong non-slip qualities.
- Traffic levels. This will identify the strength and thickness requirements for the floor. If the anticipated traffic involves humans alone — like in food service areas — the needed tolerance level is not as much as what is required for a facility where trolleys, heavy equipment and heavy loads use the surface.
- Demands for maintenance. As we all know, industrial spaces are busy and operations cannot be interrupted for extended periods of time. A key requirement in this instance is that
- Floors are easy to clean especially in the occurrence of spillage. The surfaces should also not attract pollutants and must not pool water and other types of liquid. Most importantly, they should be able to resist abrasion, corrosion, freeze-thaw and chemical attack.
- When applying the floor, the facility should not be out of action for an extended time frame.
Meeting the Slip Resistance Standard
Aside from the considerations listed above, it is also essential that the industrial flooring materials you’re using are compliant with the Australian Standards for slip resistance. Under the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Clause D2.10 (c) states that the floor surface of a pedestrian ramp must have a non-slip finish. A similar requirement is stated in Clause D2.13 (v) which requires treads and risers to have a non-slip finish or a suitable non-skid strip near the edge of the nosings. D2.14 (a) (ii) says that landings having a maximum gradient of 1:50 may be used in any building to limit the number of risers in each flight and each landing must have a non-slip finish throughout or a suitable non-skid strip near the edge of the landing where it leads to a flight of stairs below.
Industrial premises are also expected to abide by the Design for access and Mobility (Part 1 general requirements for access Buildings) of the AS1428.1, which states that all continuous accessible paths of travels shall have a slip-resistant surface. The minimum friction coefficient for wet and dry conditions is 0.4 based on a wet pendulum test and dry friction test.
Maintaining Industrial Floor Flatness Level
If your facility involves moving forklift pallets around, it is extremely important to ensure that your flooring is flat and even. If there are depressions, unnecessary undulations, the chances of spillage may increase, which could not only potentially damage the goods but also injure your personnel. With a non-level floor, drivers will find it difficult to operate and move pallets from one place to another.
The surface flatness may be influenced by deflection, panel curling damage and concrete shrinkage. You can use an F-meter to find irregularities like surface undulations or waviness.
Improving Site Safety with Bunding
Bunding is necessary for facilities that process, store, or transfer liquids like chemicals, petroleum, pesticides and anything else that would be detrimental if it ended up in our waterways. A bund, according to the AS 4452B1997 standard, is “… an impervious embankment of earth, or a wall of brick, stone, concrete or other suitable material, which may form part or all of the perimeter of a compound that provides a barrier to retain liquid… It is designed to contain spillages and leaks from liquids used, stored or processed above-ground and to facilitate clean-up operations.”
As many industrial facilities have many vehicles that travel around the premises, you can install a temporary bunding in the form of speed bumps or graded floor that can control the spilled liquid in one area. If your operation doesn’t require vehicles, you can opt for a large bunded surface area which can accommodate at least 25% of the total volume of the stored products.
There is a lot more we can tell you about floor levels, and can, of course, help you to ascertain what is the best step (pun intended) for your floor.
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