Concrete industrial floors look easy – but need special skills

concrete flooring preparation

Industrial concrete floors are essential for South Africa’s industrial growth but also poses more problems for the construction industry than most other concrete projects, says John Roxburgh, senior lecturer at The Concrete Institute’s School of Concrete Technology.

John Roxburgh, senior lecturer at The Concrete Institute’s School of Concrete Technology

Roxburgh says although the South African manufacturing industry has been in a slow decline over many years – a situation likely to be exacerbated by the virus pandemic – the wholesale and retail industry has shown a steady increase in recent years.

“This has resulted in an ever-increasing need for strategically placed warehouses and storage facilities which you can see being built by driving along highways in all our major cities. South Africa is importing more and more manufactured goods and needs a place to store these goods for distribution. An essential part of a durable and reliable warehouse, storage facility or a factory is the concrete industrial floor on the ground.”

concrete industrial flooring special skills needed says school

Roxburgh says without a well-designed, fit-for-purpose and low maintenance concrete industrial floor, factories, warehouses, storage and retail areas or other hard standing areas cannot operate at optimum efficiency. He believes the importance of a sound concrete industrial floor is often overlooked but should be the main priority for minimising long-term operational costs.

“Industrial floors on the ground typically appear simple in their design and construction but in reality, they can become nightmares for the unskilled. The Concrete Institute can testify to that because 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 TCI.”

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.

· Level, flat and at the right height construction.

· Hard-wearing dust-free surface.

· Capacity to carry large imposed loads over its entire surface – including across its joints and at its corners and sides.

· To be aesthetically pleasing with minimal surface defects and cracking.

“The concrete used for the industrial floors needs certain plastic and hardened properties to perform and so the mix design for these concretes are more constrained and require 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.

“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. This causes 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 contends.

“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. Then, 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 to it, as well as joint maintenance and sealant repair and top-up when needed.

“The good news is that good floors can be constructed. To help educate those involved with concrete floors, The Concrete Institute offers a one day course, ‘Industrial floors on the ground’ lectured by MD Bryan Perrie, an internationally recognised expert on concrete floors, in which all the design principles and concrete practice needed to produce a good floor is covered. The course also includes floor repair and maintenance. All engineers, contractors, concrete specialists, floor coating applicators, managers of warehouses and clients involved with an industrial floor will benefit greatly by attending the course which is planned for Midrand, Cape Town and Durban later this year,” Roxburgh adds.



Latest


25 Sep 2020
6 Reasons to choose AXOR

Over the last 25 years, AXOR has carved out a space in the design history books as a brand that creates new…

6 Reasons to choose AXOR

Over the last 25 years, AXOR has carved out a space in the design history books as a brand that creates new benchmarks in form and function. Their range of around 2,000 products are each finely crafted, with no detail left untouched. And over time, AXOR has come to embody the creative…

23 Sep 2020
SABIS School Runda achieves Green Star Africa-Kenya PEB rating

The new SABIS® International School – Runda in Nairobi achieved a 4-Star Green Star Africa-Kenya PEB v1 Design Rating in…

SABIS School Runda achieves Green Star Africa-Kenya PEB rating

The new SABIS® International School – Runda in Nairobi achieved a 4-Star Green Star Africa-Kenya PEB v1 Design Rating in April 2020. The school is being presented as a case study at the World Green Building Week (21-25 September), and a tree-planting ceremony is being planned as part of the…

23 Sep 2020
Radisson Red is the new Green

No. 6 Silo building receives star environmental rating from the Green Buildings Council of SA The V&A Waterfront today achieved another sustainability…

Radisson Red is the new Green

No. 6 Silo building receives star environmental rating from the Green Buildings Council of SA The V&A Waterfront today achieved another sustainability accolade when the Green Buildings Council of South Africa (GBCSA) handed over a plaque recognising the sustainable development of the Silo District’s No. 6 Silo building. The building, which now…

23 Sep 2020
V&A Waterfront ‘Theatre to Food Making’ incubator to add a further 4,348m2 to the existing cruise terminal

R63-million investment in partnership with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund to create major opportunities for food talent within new, 360o farm-to-fork…

V&A Waterfront ‘Theatre to Food Making’ incubator to add a further 4,348m2 to the existing cruise terminal

R63-million investment in partnership with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund to create major opportunities for food talent within new, 360o farm-to-fork food experience. The V&A Waterfront is pushing ahead with a ground-breaking plan to develop a visionary and local food community incubator starring South African flavours and culture, which will create jobs and…


Top stories


06 Mar 2020
7 Awe-inspiring marble use cases

Marble, an exceptionally versatile material used for centuries to create awe-inspiring art, majestic staircases, classic kitchens and resplendent flooring. With…

7 Awe-inspiring marble use cases

Marble, an exceptionally versatile material used for centuries to create awe-inspiring art, majestic staircases, classic kitchens and resplendent flooring. With today’s contemporary design trends, the wide selection of marble can be used in more ways than ever before.

05 Mar 2020
First Green Key Boutique Hotel in South Africa

21 Nettleton attains their Green Key Award from WESSA, becoming South Africa’s first boutique hotel to achieve this accolade for…

First Green Key Boutique Hotel in South Africa

21 Nettleton attains their Green Key Award from WESSA, becoming South Africa’s first boutique hotel to achieve this accolade for its efforts in sustainability. An exciting partnership between WESSA and 21 Nettleton has resulted in the private boutique hotel in Clifton, Cape Town being awarded the prestigious Green Key award.…

27 Feb 2020
The Nxuba wind farm Renewable Energy

In its ongoing efforts to showcase the potential that renewables can play in boosting the security of energy supplies in…

The Nxuba wind farm Renewable Energy

In its ongoing efforts to showcase the potential that renewables can play in boosting the security of energy supplies in South Africa, Enel Green Power (EGP) highlights its commitment to the country as it nears the completion of its Nxuba wind farm in the Eastern Cape. The company recently started…

23 Jan 2020
Refurbishment at North West University

As the three established divisions of Norcros SA, TAL, Johnson Tiles and Tile Africa recently played important roles in an…

Refurbishment at North West University

As the three established divisions of Norcros SA, TAL, Johnson Tiles and Tile Africa recently played important roles in an extensive tiling project at North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus in North West Province. The project entailed refurbishing the five-block Sports Village, a guest house facility providing accommodation for the public, athletes…


Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za