Wear and tear

Published: 28-Feb-2012

Choosing the right material to cope with the weight and pressure exerted by machinery movements is crucial to flooring longevity

Within many factory or industrial environments, there will inevitably be large areas of the floor exposed to enable machinery and fork-lift trucks to manoeuvre across the surface. Predictably, this results in continual and concentrated wear and tear on the floor. Therefore, a key design consideration for specifying the right floorcovering to cope with the demands is to ensure that the product can easily distribute the weight and pressure caused by the heavy loads.

It is fundamental to understand that a floor does not have to support a load but only to distribute and transmit it towards the layers of construction below, for example, to the levelling compound (if present) or the concrete slab, without causing stresses in the surface layer. The inner strength of a flooring material is measured by laboratory tests that measure tensile intensity and the results are expressed in force/unit area.

It’s a common misconception to view the floor as a two-dimensional object, but there is a third dimension to be considered, the vertical section, or the ‘thickness.’ Where this might play a role is in the resistance to abrasion – the time and energy it takes to penetrate the floor material thickness.

It is also important to realise that pressure more often than not counts over actual weight. With a standard fork-lift truck, for example, with traditional tyres, the total weight will be distributed over a large area and the resulting pressure on the floor is rather low (about 10kg/cm2). It is not a particular stress for an industrial type floor covering. But for a transporting Automatic Guided Vehicle, with a total weight of 1 ton, or less, this could be a serious problem for the floor (and subfloor) because of the small, hard wheels. The weight is distributed over a much smaller area than in the previous case.

Therefore, to ensure product performance and longevity of a floorcovering, specifiers should consider a material, such as a highly compressed homogeneous vinyl tile, which can withstand high mechanical resistance and wear behaviour, without the need for any factory coating or supplementary surface hardening treatment. A material such as this will also be 100% repairable and restorable, even when coping with abrasive methods, without leaving any trace.

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