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Zooming in on concrete industrial floor best practices

Home Engineering Associations Zooming in on concrete industrial floor best practices

CEMENT & Concrete SA’s (CSSA’s) School of Concrete Technology will on August 21 present an online training course on industrial concrete floors – surfaces that are essential for South Africa’s industrial growth but often pose major problems for the construction industry.

That’s according to John Roxburgh Senior Lecturer at the school, who said the one-day Zoom course, will be lectured by CCSA CEO Bryan Perrie, an internationally recognised expert on concrete floors.

It is tilted Industrial Floors on the Ground and all the design principles and concrete practice needed to produce a quality floor are covered. The course – which also includes floor repair and maintenance – is aimed at engineers, contractors, concrete specialists, floor coating applicators, managers of warehouses and all others involved with industrial floors.

Roxburgh said that without well-designed, fit-for-purpose and low maintenance concrete industrial floors, factories, warehouses, storage and retail areas and other hard-standing areas cannot operate at optimum efficiency.

“The importance of a sound concrete industrial floor should be the main priority for minimising long-term operational costs. Industrial floors on the ground typically appear simple in design and construction but can become nightmares for the unskilled.”

He added that when it comes to the various concrete elements in a building, the industrial floor is by far the most problematic in meeting specifications and performance requirements, and attracts the highest volumes of calls for advice and help to CCSA.

Although a concrete floor is constructed on the ground – with minimal reinforcement – it is required to possess stringent and diverse qualities, including the correct thickness. It must be level, flat and at the right height construction, as well as hard-wearing and dust free.

Other requirements include the capacity to carry large imposed loads over its entire surface – including across joints and at corners and sides. Finally, it should be aesthetically pleasing with minimal surface defects and cracking.

Roxburgh said the concrete used for industrial floors needs certain plastic and hardened properties to perform and so the mix design for these concretes is more constrained and requires greater attention to detail.

“Concrete floors are also often constructed under adverse conditions.  The large surface to volume ratio of a floor makes its construction very vulnerable to hot, windy and dry conditions.”

He said the most common problems in industrial floors are cracking, joint failure, curling, dusting, scaling, surface wear, sealant failure and excessive lateral movement of forklifts and pallet jacks.

“An underperforming floor will result in slowing down of forklifts, pallet jacks and reach trucks and cause maintenance costs on all packing, stacking and lifting machinery to soar along with more frequent and costly repairs of the floor resulting in more downtime and the need for spare machinery – all resulting in a less efficient operation.”

Roxburgh said that to produce a good industrial floor requires a three-pronged approach. “The floor needs to be designed and specified correctly – this will include performance requirements, joint layout and specification, level and flatness tolerances amongst others.

Secondly, the floor needs to be constructed by an experienced concrete flooring contractor who can place, compact and protect the floor as well as produce the correct surface finish with the correct tolerances and cut the joints timeously to specification.

“Finally, the floor needs to be maintained correctly.  This would include implementing minor repairs on an on-going basis, keeping the floor free of any material that can cause damage, as well as joint maintenance and sealant repair and top-up when needed.”

For more information visit www.cemcon-sa.org.za.

 

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