Floor surface regularity in industrial buildings

By Terry Bartholomew

Over the past few years we have looked at a lot of concrete floors in large industrial buildings!

To the naked eye, the flatness of such floors is rarely evident but surface irregularity and flatness are extremely important to certain types of occupiers, in particular those relying on high bay racking, wire guided forklift trucks or where high levels of controlled environment are needed for processing, manufacturing or research.

Understanding the user’s requirements

In order that the floor can be considered appropriate for the intended use it is essential that an understanding of the user requirements is gained, pre-survey. Variations in the floor surface profile from a theoretically perfectly flat plane are limited to an extent appropriate to the planned use of the floor and even though vender information may state that the floor has been designed to a certain tolerance, the reality is that if high degrees of flatness are needed, the floor should be subjected to a physical laser survey to measure floor levels over a grid in order to establish any deviations from the tolerances set out in the design standards.

Industrial floor testing

The floor should be level tested to establish:

  • flatness, in order to limit the bumpiness and general stability in operation of the materials handling equipment, and
  • levelness, to ensure that the building as a whole with all its equipment can function satisfactorily.

Flatness relates to variations over short distances and is typically measured over a distance of 300 mm. Levelness relates to variations over a longer distance, typically 3000 mm, as well as the building’s overall datum.

Having been involved in the design and installation of high specification floors over many years, I have frequently consulted the Concrete Society Technical Report 34, Concrete industrial ground floors along with guidance on appropriate measurement techniques (TR34). The TR34 flatness specifications can only be used for floors that are nominally horizontal.

Please contact us for more information on your industrial building requirements.