Epoxy resin floor coatings have become a popular choice for warehouses thanks to the ability of these solutions to provide a robust, level platform that can withstand the on-site challenges for an extended period of time while providing additional operational benefits. Epoxies are available in a wide range of colours and can be tailored to ensure surface flatness as well as resist heavy loads, hard rubber and steel-wheeled forklift traffic.
The seamless nature of epoxy floor coatings makes it easy clean and the warehouse operator can further enhance the warehouse’s cleanability by incorporating stainless steel drainage into the finish.
Facilities that need to protect the floor against very challenging conditions, such as thermal shock, hot oils, highly corrosive chemicals and heavy physical impacts should consider polyurethane flooring materials. Polyurethane floors are generally thicker and more robust, however as they typically have to be trowelled down so it can be difficult to achieve the smoothness of a poured in-situ epoxy finish.
Polyurethane floors can include an antibacterial additive to help safeguard food & beverage produce. This property was required at LF Logistics in Malaysia, which provides distribution centre management services to nearly 400 brands worldwide. The ultra-hygienic polyurethane coating Flowfresh HF, which includes the bactericidal agent Polygiene®, was chosen to refurbish its warehouse floor, as it would meet the strict cleanability criteria required to fulfill a contract from a leading F&B brand.
Resin systems that have been made using methyl methacrylate (MMA) technology can rapidly speed up the floor’s curing time to only a few hours. These systems are ideal for sites that can’t afford a long shut-down period to refurbish the floor but that need a seamless, hard wearing and colourful surface.
The floor must maintain a flat, level and functional surface despite the movement of heavy loads, trafficking from hard rubber and steel-wheeled forklift vehicles and potential exposure to deteriorating factors such as chemical spillages, intense cleaning routines and dropped objects.
Getting the floor flatness right is a critical requirement, as surface unevenness can lead to excessive vibration on a lift truck. Exact floor flatness is crucial to ensure that lift trucks can operate at maximum speed.
The slip resistance of the floor is key to minimising on-site accidents. Aggregates can be broadcast into resin floor coatings to enhance the floor’s anti-slip profile. The aggregate can be customised to match specific requirements, for example entrances may need a higher degree of slip resistance because rain water might be walked in from outside.
Clever use of walkways and signage can help warehouse facilities comply with regulations and make the most use of the available space. Bright and obvious signage on the floor is ideal for creating clearly identifiable walkways and boundaries. Clever use of floor signage can also help to maximise the available floor space by marking out the best positions for entry, exit or storage.
Many of these flooring properties were exemplified recently at a Heathrow Airport warehouse, which was refurbished so that it would be suitable for large-scale pharmaceutical storage and distribution activity. Over 11,000m2 of specialist resin flooring solutions was used to optimise the floor, with different parts of the facility requiring tailored solutions to meet particular challenges.
Prior to applying the finish in the main area of the facility, the substrate had to be carefully prepared. Approximately 10,000m2 was shot blasted and protruding steel fibres were ground down. Two coats of the epoxy-based primer Peran STC was used to prepare the substrate for a final 2mm coating of the self-smoothing epoxy resin system Flowshield SL. The chemical resistant epoxy Flowcoat SF41 was used to create a forklift path as well as pedestrian logos, numbers and multiple line markings.
Achieving a smooth finish was essential to ensure that the forklift trucks could move quickly and efficiently around the site.
If the equipment is going to rest on top of the floor finish then the chosen material will have to be able to resist the point loading that it will be subjected to, otherwise the floor will quickly crack, dust and fail.
Robotic equipment can pose a health and safety risk to employees on site. As mentioned above, signage incorporated into the floor plan can help minimise risks by ensuring that staff are guided around hazardous areas.
One trend with warehouses and industrial facilities is an increasing desire for floor finishes that will not only provide the necessary functionality, but that will also be visually appealing so that they could be used as showrooms to impress potential clients.
This was the case recently at Street Crane’s facility in Chapel-en-le-Frith, UK, which would be used to showcase its world leading crane systems, however the floor would need to maintain a showroom standard in the face of substantial loads being hoisted and set down on the floor. 2,000m2 of the durable polyurethane system Flowcrete MF was chosen for the task as it would be able to provide a heavy-duty surface that would withstand Street Crane’s operational activities for an extended period of time.
For further details:
Flowcrete India Pvt. Ltd
The Flooring Technology Center, “Ganesh Towers”
Door No.B-1, 1st floor, 1st Avenue, Ashok Nagar,
Chennai- 600 083. Tamilnadu