Raised access flooring – avoiding panel damage when moving heavy items

Raised access flooring is robust and hard wearing. However, individual access panels are vulnerable to damage when moving heavy items. This is because panels may be overloaded by the weight of heavy equipment which is concentrated through trolley castors or wheels on to a small area of the access panels during the move.

If you want to minimise the possibility of damaging raised access flooring when relocating heavy equipment there are a number of procedures that you should follow.

Awareness of this problem

Managers responsible for moving heavy equipment need to be aware of the fact that overloading a floor panel will result in damage to the panel itself and potentially damage the pedestal underneath, cables and any other floor supports.

Clearly, the added expense and disruption resulting from such damage could be considerable and might include repairing or replacing the equipment and machinery that was damaged during the move as well as replacement or repair to the panel and infrastructure underpinning it.

In an ideal world, managers leading such moves would be aware of the problem and conversant with typical load limits as well as the weights of the office machinery and equipment involved in the move. However, some managers don’t realise that load limits exist, others know they exist but haven’t taken the time to find out what the are and yet others try to find out but sometimes the load limits to be difficult to understand.

It is highly recommend that when making a move of this nature, managers should contact the manufacturer of the raised flooring or a specialist in raised access flooring who will be able to explain the load limits for their type of flooring.

Procedure for moving equipment

The key to a successful move is to make it clear to all those involved in moving equipment that raised flooring panels can be overloaded by both stationary and moving loads. The risk is not just from the possibility of equipment falling and damaging panels. When extreme weights are placed on the raised access panels via castors or wheels that may, in itself, be sufficient to bend, buckle or break these panels.

In order to move heavy equipment successfully across areas of raised flooring, the flooring on the proposed route must be investigated to ensure that panels are undamaged and firmly in place.

If the investigation shows the presence of panels that may be broken, damaged or rocking all of these panels found on the route should be investigated further to ensure that they are functioning correctly. Rocking panels, in particular, may be a problem as this may indicate the presence of a loose pedestal or pedestal head.

It would be prudent if you included in your preparation for moving equipment, laying a protective covering over the floor panels and securing it in such a way that it cannot move. This will help protect panels from the impact of hard wheels or casters.

However, to minimise the risk of moving heavy items across raised flooring you should seek the advice of a specialist raised access flooring company. They will have extensive expertise in how to move equipment across raised flooring and will be able to advise you on the most appropriate method of moving your equipment, taking into account the load bearing specifications of the raised flooring panels involved.