Flooring is taken for granted until something goes wrong. Ecotile marketing and exports director Lucinda O’Reilly looks at the criteria you should think about when specifying a factory floor.
Choosing a factory flooring system can be problematic because there are many stakeholders, who have different requirements. You will need to know: can it support heavy machinery? does it need to be perfectly flat, so that machines can be calibrated? can it withstand heavy traffic such as forklift trucks? is it sufficiently anti-slip for the safety of pedestrians? is it oil and chemical resistant? is it easy to clean and maintain?
Here are three main criteria you should think about when choosing a factory floor.
If a manufacturing company is to be successful it has to be efficient in using resources and economies of scale. Not many people consider that the factory floor can have an impact on how efficiently production runs.
But if the floor is uneven or damaged this may prevent forklift trucks and pallet trucks from moving raw material and finished goods around the factory smoothly, and the movements of these vehicles will increase the damage in a vicious circle. Eventually the damaged areas will need to be repaired, which means they have to be shut down for a while. This will be extremely inconvenient, and also costly if production runs 24 hours a day, as is usually the case to maximise efficient manufacturing.
This highlights some of the prime advantages of the interlocking tile system. Ecotile can be loose laid over damp, damaged and uneven floors with very little preparation. The tiles can be installed while production continues, and in the long term, if a tile is damaged, it can be lifted and replaced in a matter of minutes.
What does your manufacturing process involve? Do you have a lot of heavy machinery and vehicle traffic or do you make light, non-bulky goods? Does the floor need to be hygienic or waterproof? Do you need to meet specific standards and create a particular type of environment, for example a clean room or an EPA if you are manufacturing products with electronic components?
Industries such as defence, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and food have widely varying requirements for the floors in their factories. Getting it wrong can result in faulty or contaminated goods, and considerable loss of revenue and profit for the company, as well as a damaged reputation.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of workers is the top priority of any good factory manager and flooring has an important role to play. It should be flat and even so there are no trip hazards and provide an anti-slip surface, even in wet and oily conditions if they exist on your production line.
Clear and visible signs are another consideration. Putting them on the floor is much more effective than on a wall, where they often merge in with all the other information presented there.
Ecotile makes a range of safety signs that are water laser jet cut into our tiles so they never wear away and are highly visible to workers. Signs available include warnings of forklift traffic or areas where ear defenders or safety glasses are required, as well as a sign indicating that electrostatic discharge compliant shoes and clothing need to be worn.
It is also helpful to use different colours and surface textures in the floor to segregate pedestrians from areas where forklift trucks are operating. The Ecotile interlocking tile system makes it very easy to achieve this.
What’s more, if the layout of your factory changes you can lift the tiles and change them round to suit your new requirements.