Floor surfaces in industrial settings are more fragile than many realize. For production and facility managers, preserving floor conditions will always be challenging. Material handlingsystems can cause extensive and expensive damage that impacts facility operators and operations. That’s why choosinga moving system will make a major difference, not just for the facility but for the people involved.
When choosing a solution that cost-effectively moves heavy loads and still protects flooring, one solution naturally floats to the top of the list: air casters. These load movers consistently stand out because, unlike other material handling systems, they hover above the floor instead of resting on it. This practically eliminates any impact associated with other systems.
Damage to floors
It’s surprisingly easy to damage floors in industrial environments, including those specially selected or prepared for heavy usage. All it takes is the weight of heavy machinery moving over the surface. Forklifts and similar large-wheeled vehicles can exert pressure over 1,000 psi. Wheeled casters and other systems can concentrate the load even more, up to 2,000-5,000 psi at each point of contact, depending on the load size.
That force may be more than the floor surface can safely bear. Even concrete can crack and buckle under heavy loads. For example, a 6-inch concrete pad with compressive strength of 700 psi can only support slightly above 1,000 psi of pressure.More delicate surfaces that can only tolerate low floor loading, such as raised floorsin clean rooms, will undoubtedly fail under these conditions.
Add dust or other particulates (salt in winter or other abrasive substances) under heavy wheels, and the material handling system will slowly grind rough patches, gouges, and divots into the floor surface with every use.
Damage compounds quickly. Small cracks turn into dangerous gaps, and unsightly minor scratches become deep gouges. The result is a damaged floor that has become unsafe for personnel and machinery. It doesn’t take much. Consider normal cracks like joints between concrete slabs. Heavy material handling systems can exert “pull away pressure” on these areas of natural separation. When it does, the gaps inevitably expand. Floor “rocking” can then cause one slab to sink and the other to rise, creating unevenness that, under extreme conditions, can damage vehicles and lead to tripping and other safety hazards.
The impact of floor damage on operations
Damaged floors put productivity and safety at risk. They can incur unacceptable costs beyond repairs or flooring replacement. For example, many forklifts have very low centers of gravity with only minimal under-clearance. Suppose the rocking results in a large enough protrusion of one slab over another. In that case, the vehicle may not have sufficient clearance for the undercarriage, causing damage to the floor and the forklift. In extreme cases, shock loads from running over the jutting slab will transfer to and through the wheels, damaging the vehicle’s interior components or, worse, its load. The damaged floor is likely to accelerate overall wear and tear on load handling vehicles and tires, requiring more frequent maintenance and replacement costs.