Cyberfloor raised access flooring

Background and Design Parameters :

CyberFloor was designed specifically as an alternate to standard access floors in order to avoid the complications of such installations; standard access floors generally have an impact on the overall building design due to their height and weight.

Standard access floors were developed originally specifically for mainframe computer rooms and industrial applications, where it was essential to have masses of wiring and under floor air-conditioning. When the first deep space landscaped offices came into common use (late 1970s – early 1980s) a method of getting wires to the workstations was essential, overhead poles were initially used, but whilst effective these came with their own problems, including their unsightly appearance.

The only other readily available solution was to utilise Steel Access Flooring, which had been available for many years already, such floors solved the wiring problems very successfully.

However as this generation of access floors weighed up to 65kg per m2 and was often 350mm or higher above the slab, buildings had to be specifically designed around these parameters, for the same reason retrofitting access floors to existing buildings was generally not viable.

Due to the National Building Regulations – SABS 0400 and the Electrical Code of Practice, any significant access floor installation is required to have either fire barriers at 300m2 intervals or sprinklers under the floors, as well as cable trays for both electrical and data wiring. This in itself complicated the construction process as the coordination of under floor services with overhead services in ceilings caused problems and it is true to say that many access floors were well used by the time the building was occupied.

The cost of standard access flooring is inherently expensive as an adjustable precision support system must be used and the panels themselves are generally filled with concrete or other similar material for strength and stability purposes.

CyberFloor was developed after a group of Professionals having used standard access flooring for some major projects exceeding 120, 000m2 and knowing all the issues with access flooring installations, sat down and brain stormed the situation. The conclusion was that in most instances especially in open plan offices where only electrical & data cabling was required at workstations, a full access floor was an overkill. Of course where air-conditioning or high concentrations of cabling such as in server rooms/main frame computer rooms etc. standard access floors are essential.

Having carried out this exercise and taking into account various options seen on a worldwide basis, the Team set out to design a simpler product; this of course was an ideal opportunity to take into account the requirements in the National Building Regulations, so that any resultant product would fully comply from the outset. It was also decided to consult with the CSIR at the basic design stage and subsequently the finished product was tested at their facility for compliance, before being placed on the market.

Similarly Wits University Engineering department were consulted on the basic design to take into account both load and impact considerations. A suitable electrical outlet box was designed around the basic module selected for CyberFloor to make extreme flexibility of layout possible.

It was also recognised from the outset that the module for standard access flooring (600mm x 600mm) differed from the worldwide standard for carpet tiles (500mm x 500mm) and CyberFloor was designed around the carpet module.

The final stage of testing involved the SABS Laboratories to test for static electricity issues, when using a suitable carpet and installed to CyberFloor’s requirements, this test was also passed successfully.