Efficiency is key in logistics. Logistics halls manage quantities of goods and ensure flows between producers and final consumers or subcontractors. However, the areas that can be set aside for logistics centers are also limited. That is why halls are appearing more and more often where all structural solutions are adapted to the operational plant, which is called the VERY NARROW AISLE SYSTEM.

German has an interesting expression: Meisterstück. Specialty. A masterpiece. But also, something like exemplary work worth following. This is exactly what the times we live in and the knowledge we have require: in every industry, we must work as efficiently as possible but at the same time differently than in times when human society was not aware of the effects of its activities on the environment. The result is, for example, the requirement not to take up more space for your business activity than is necessary.

We have already written about what conditions a high-quality logistics hall must meet and what its basic functions are. However, let’s look at the operation of the logistics hall precisely from the efficiency point of view and consider the limited living space. In the segment of realization of industrial floors, we can talk about a certain type of masterpiece that can work with extreme load and bearing capacities. Most often, jointless concrete floors with dispersed reinforcement and surface treatment with concrete floor hardener with an increased demand for flatness are implemented for this requirement.

Perfect flat surface is a must

Efficient storage and excellent internal transport infrastructure, which can handle high-volume transport without problems, are preconditions that every modern logistic hall must meet. If the goal is to maximize the use of available cubic meters of space, the optimal solution is a system of very narrow aisles.

A very narrow aisle, VNA for short, in combination with the extraordinary flatness of the industrial floor enables:

  • placing pallets in racks up to 14 meters high. For clarification: The classic racking system allows placing “only” up to a height of 6 to 7 m.
  • movement of induction forklift trucks in very narrow aisles – from a width of 1.6 m. The concept of these trucks allows sufficient movement in narrow aisles and handling of pallets without the need to turn. For clarification: The linear steering of forklift trucks in such spaces is made possible by induction located in the grooves of the floor, while the truck follows this line with the help of sensors in its chassis.

Coordination of floor, racks, and forklifts

Every successful VNA installation relies on three key elements to perform at its best. It is about:

  • forklift trucks,
  • racks,
  • the actual construction and treatment of the industrial floor.

“Forklifts and racks are important elements of the system. If one of them does not meet the basic requirements satisfactorily, the very narrow aisle system itself will remain unsatisfactory and less productive. The fact is, however, that regardless of the choice of the racks manufacturer and the brand of the trucks, which always work on the same principles, it is the floor that affects the quality of the ride,” explains Marcel Sýkora, sales and technical manager of Proreco.

Why is that so? The floor must provide a suitable surface on which driving will be possible for induction forklift trucks. In general, the faster the truck drives on low-quality or uneven surfaces, the more unstable it becomes. “The distance between the rack and the truck in the aisle is sometimes only five centimeters. Thanks to this, a significantly higher number of storage spaces for loaded pallets can be created on the same area as with a classic racking system,” explains M. Sýkora and continues: “However, it is important to achieve a perfect surface – without it, installations with a system of narrow aisles are not possible at all.”

From theory to practice – step by step

“If we know that we are preparing the implementation of an industrial floor for a logistics hall, in which the pallets will be stored to racks of greater heights than the standard, we have to count on a significantly higher one-point load,” explains M. Sýkora.

For this reason, before each similar implementation, it is important to start with a separate static calculation for the industrial floor. Second, surface flatness is extremely important. “Even a small curvature of the floor at full speed of the handling machinery and the lift of the storing can show itself in a centimeter deviation – and a collision with the rack could occur because of it,” adds the expert.

Did you know?

In their calculations, statics also consider the threat of concrete punctures, or concrete slab punctures. It is a professional slang term. It reminds of the extreme limits, which are necessary to avoid during the load. The good news is that there is no risk of this problem with floors with dispersed reinforcement.

Seamless above-standard

Floors in logistics halls intended for operation with a system of very narrow aisles usually also require a jointless above-standard. Its implementation is always a sophisticated process starting with preparatory work, installation of expansion profiles and placement of sliding film.

This is followed by concreting itself and smoothing the surface. If you are wondering how fast an experienced company can do it, you may be surprised to learn that it is possible to maintain a daily pace of approx. 1,000 to 2,000 m2.

The concrete mixture is placed on the surface directly from the truck mixers, then it is time to level it to the required level. The sophisticated concrete floor “finisher” Laser Screed, which expands the concrete into the shape of the floor and aligns it to the required flatness with maximum precision, always starts on these floors immediately after the mixers have finished their work.

Finally, an armored strength

The next phase also takes place immediately, without a curing break for the concrete to harden. The surface is filled with a powder mixture based on cement and hardening agents, which in the end improves the parameters of the floor. It is the so-called armored floor.

After smoothing, a spray of synthetic varnish is applied to the surface. This will help the even maturing of the floor and prevent excessive evaporation of mixing water from the concrete.

Efficiency, storage, excellent transport infrastructure that can handle high volume transport – these are the prerequisites that every logistics hall must meet. The high racking system and very narrow aisle system multiply these attributes. The optimalization of this demanding solution lies in precision and coordination: The forklift trucks, the stacking system and the correct implementation of the floor can help streamline the flow of activities in the logistics hall by up to 70 percent. And since these halls are stretched high – to take up as little valuable space as possible – it might happen that over time they will become the standard logistics solution.