Bus Features

Altro continues transforming passenger experience with floor technology

Trusted all over the world, Altro’s overriding mission is to transform the passenger environment into a safe, functional and design-focused space

As one of the world’s leading flooring manufacturers, Altro has a rich history in transport, spanning back decades. Its presence in Australia is so strong that Altro transport Asia Pacific manager Oliver Whyte says it’s “impossible” to determine the number of buses still operating in the region with Altro floors installed.

“It’s in the many thousands,” Whyte told ABC.  

“Every bus OEM, bodybuilder and just about every operator has used our floors over the past three decades we’ve been operating in Australia.”

Altro’s Oliver Whyte

For years, the brand’s strong presence in Australia has meant that hundreds of thousands of passengers walking on Altro floors each day will have no idea of the history beneath their feet. 

The third-generation family business was founded in 1919, coinciding with the introduction of the Bauhaus movement in Dessau, Germany – the home of Altro’s second manufacturing plant. The Bauhaus movement, adopted by designers worldwide, teaches that there is no distinction between ‘form and function’. 

“It means we have a responsibility to engineer our products to meet real-world needs and ensure our products meet requirements for style, as well as substance,” Whyte says. 

Altro’s history includes many milestones. Altro is recognised as the inventors of safety flooring and expanded into the transport sector 70 years ago.

“Having invented safety flooring, we saw a demand for it in keeping passengers safe on buses and trains,” Whyte says.

What started as a safety tread to prevent people from falling down the rear steps of the original London Route-Master bus quickly became a comprehensive safety flooring solution for transport passengers. Nowadays, Altro is a flooring giant while still maintaining its core family values. 

Altro manufactures its products out of sites in the UK and Germany and serves Australia from its base in Dandenong South, Victoria. It has plans to expand its local manufacturing capabilities further this year, assisting OEMs and bodybuilders alike with increasing local content percentages through a suite of Australian-made value-added services such as kit-cutting, reverse welding and laminated inserts. 

Operating globally, Altro is a major safety flooring manufacturer in popular transport markets in the US, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Outside of the bus and coach sector, Altro’s floors are also seen on rail, marine and other types of speciality vehicles, such as ambulances and motorhomes.

While Altro sells floors and walls for all types of markets from commercial kitchens to schools and healthcare environments, Altro transport floors are specifically engineered for the transport market. 

“They are engineered differently to other flooring products that are used in the global construction markets,” Whyte says.

“Buses experience incredible temperature variation, vibrations, torsional forces and a lot more punishment than you would find in a typical building environment. Also, building floors don’t need to be particularly lightweight, whereas transport floors do, and buildings are generally temperature-controlled environments, meaning they don’t typically suffer the same temperature variations as transport floors.

“We have floors installed on buses in the frigid far north of Finland, the tropical humidity of Singapore, the dust of the Aussie outback and in the extreme heat of the Middle East. Whether it be a temperature of -40 degrees Celsius or more than 60 degrees, our floors retain their structural integrity and dimensional stability.”

Altro’s success over more than a century can be attributed to its design innovations throughout the decades. For many passengers and operators, a bus and coach floor may not look like it contains a wealth of technology. However, Altro’s flooring is filled with the latest innovation. The brand’s success is testament to its constant improvement and development that is specifically aimed at transport applications, including to reduce weight, provide sustainable slip resistance and pass increasingly stringent fire regulations. 

The slip resistant compounds within its flooring products are what initially gave the brand its name, with ‘Altro’ being derived from aluminium trioxide – one of the compounds used in creating its unrivalled slip resistance. Within Altro’s floors, aluminium trioxide, silicon carbide and quartz are used throughout the product to create a robust, slip resistant surface that is also incredibly easy to clean. 

“Because these compounds are used throughout the floor and not just on the top surface, as they age and wear, they still remain incredibly slip resistant,” Whyte says.  

This unique approach to floor manufacturing has allowed Altro to have supreme confidence in its products and become the only flooring company to provide a lifetime warranty for the slip resistance of its products.  

Last year, Altro arranged for independent testing on Altro floors onboard Busways vehicles after working with the operator for decades. Accredited Australian testing company Safe Environments visited the Busways depot in Penrith, NSW to test if the flooring slip resistance on a random older Busways vehicle had waned.  

It confirmed that, even after 16 years of use and 1.1 million kilometres travelled, the slip resistance of the floor was found to still be performing at the highest levels and had not lost any of its ability to keep passengers safe. 

of use, Altro’s floors maintain an incredibly high level of slip resistance

This unrivalled safety has seen Altro’s floors become specified for Transport for NSW’s (TfNSW) latest Panel 4 procurement list, with two of the interior colours in ‘Storm’ and ‘Genome’ specified in its popular and durable Meta range – all held in stock in Melbourne. 

Another popular range that Altro carries in stock in its Dandenong South warehouse is Altro Chroma EV, which Whyte says is the brand’s most popular range for the bus market. Over the past five years, Altro has reduced this floor’s weight by 20 per cent, allowing operators with electric buses to enjoy these major reductions. 

“We’ve reduced the weight without compromising any of its safety or structural attributes” Whyte says. 

“This is a direct result of feedback from global OEMs and operators wishing to reduce mass on electric vehicles.”

Last month, Altro also released three brand new ranges called Artis, Metris and Sonis. These design-orientated floors are developed specifically for weight reduction as well as acoustic and thermal insulation, aiding improved passenger experiences onboard and reducing energy consumption through heating and cooling.  

“Electric vehicles have different internal sounds and resonances than traditional diesel buses, so we’ve designed a product from the ground up to create a floor that improves the passenger experience onboard,” Whyte says.

He says these floors are planned to be displayed at the National Bus & Coach Show in September, where Altro will once again be exhibiting. 

“I really look forward to welcoming both builders and operators to the stand to show them the Altro difference,” Whyte says.

“We can confidently say that our transport floors will remain slip resistant for the life of the bus. Furthermore, no other transport flooring company offers performance warranties for as long as Altro does. Come and experience for yourself the Altro difference.”

Contact Oliver Whyte on +61 (0)477 110889, or email at Oliver@altro.com. 

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