Stump-out? Like the chemical that is used to get rid of unwanted tree stumps? What does that have to do with loading dock equipment? No, we’re not talking about that kind of stump-out. In the loading dock industry stump-out is an all too common problem and huge cost of ownership with mechanical dock levelers that can wreak havoc and create a hazardous work area.
What is it?
Ironically enough, stump-out is caused by pieces of the dock meant to keep it safe. Stump-out occurs on mechanical dock levelers when the mechanical fall safe legs contact their stops. The legs then interfere with the vertical movement of a dock leveler that naturally occurs during loading and unloading. Stump-out can also occur when mechanical fall safe legs can be manually released by pulling a release activator in the dock leveler deck assembly. The release is required every time the dock leveler must pass the below the stop position of the mechanical fall safe legs. Upward movement during use can cause the safety leg to reset to the stored position.
How do I know if I have stump-out?
Take a look at your dock while it’s in use. Does it look like this?
Do your forklift drivers complain about big bumps or jarring stops going in and out of trucks?
Do your forklifts have tire damage that isn’t normal wear and tear?
Does your product ever take a spill off pallets while being loaded or unloaded?
If so, you probably have a stump-out situation happening.
No matter how it happens, stump-out creates a steep incline of the lip. That, in turn, causes any lift truck to be severely jarred or stopped completely when trying to exit a truck, causing possible injury to the driver or damage to any product being moved, the lift truck, or the leveler itself. While there are designs and versions of mechanical fall safe legs that can remain retracted until they are required, they do not always activate like they should. Many times they are activated by lip rotation or speed sensing. Rollers and spring-loaded cross-traffic legs do not solve the stump out problem and add to the cost of ownership. They are high failure rate parts and are in constant danger and motion during loading and unloading. All of which will cost you time and money.
Lots of time and money. In some cases, there are as many as 20-30 parts for EACH mechanical fall safe leg that can fail. Over and over again. With some of our own clients, we have seen repair bills that would have covered the difference of purchasing a hydraulic leveler in the first place. And would have more than covered the cost of a hydraulic conversion.
Stump-out also poses a major safety risk to your employees. Constant jarring and sudden stops can cause back and neck injuries. In turn, costing you downtime due to injury and potential worker’s compensation claims.
As well as employee safety, what about your equipment? The jarring and sudden stops cause repeated damage to your forklifts and other equipment that will all-cause premature wear and tear. Meaning you will need more maintenance and sooner replacement. All causing you downtime and efficiency deficiency.
How to fix it?
Instead of throwing parts and money away trying to fix a problem that will keep happening no matter how good your service team is, address the problem head-on. Most loading dock companies are representing a single manufacturer and have a very limited number of solutions. As an independent loading dock service & repair company, we have options that work for all situations. We will assess your situation and work with our partners to design a solution that works for your facility and your budget.
For more information, contact us and we will provide a solution for this potentially costly and hazardous problem.
Now that the groundhog has gifted us with another six weeks of winter it’s time to sit back, enjoy a warm beverage, and write a quick note to our loyal customers.
Over the past several months I’ve encountered many people who have been frustrated after buying from vendors who lock them into systems that can only be sold and serviced by one company. These organizations use a pitch that highlights uniformity in the solution. The only solution these frustrated people have witnessed is a growth in the financial demands of the vendor they chose. These “customers” can typically get a great deal from the start but it quickly turns into a nightmare as service calls and replacement parts come at an ultra-premium. The vendor knows they control the show. The good people who purchased or inherited these products feel burnt and don’t always know how to look for a good solution partner to help them achieve their goals with the best value in mind.
Feeling the pain and frustration these people bear is a big motivational factor in me striving to accelerate my business. I believe that building long term business partnerships stems from following the golden rule. My definition of the golden rule in business is consulting with integrity, delivering a master-crafted solution, and keeping a fair commitment to delivering value-added service. Our clients remain loyal because we at DDT live and breathe this through our companies mission, values, and vision.
In the coming months, I’m going to be sharing stories about these clients in this newsletter series. You’ll discover how people just like you have innovated their loading docks with the right solutions for their needs. You’ll hear why these clients turned partners believe in our commitment to excellence. Most importantly, you’ll understand that DDT adds value through our lifetime commitment to our craftsmanship and maintenance programs.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to sharing these customer stories in the very near future.
Owner, Dock & Door Tec
1) ARTD. This is a feature called auto-return-to-dock and is available on hydraulic levelers and some basic mechanical EOD type levelers. On EOD’s it is not an issue as there is no extra charge and it is how most EOD units work. The hydraulic pit levelers are a different story. ARTD is an additional switch, secured to the leveler frame, located in the pit. This switch will activate the leveler if a truck departs from the dock with the leveler resting inside of it. On many brands and models, the ARTD switch can also be triggered manually by a person from outside of the building creating a security, safety and property damage risk!
In my 22 years of experience, I have yet to hear a valid reason for the ARTD. Of course, they are commonly sold and listed in specifications across the country. Put money on your bottom line don’t throw it in a dock pit.
2) Purchase a mechanical leveler. They are less costly upfront however over a ten year period they can cost twice as much as a hydraulic leveler, due to needed parts and repairs over the life of the equipment. As this is the lowest upfront option some buyers feel it is “good enough” and don’t realize how quickly repair costs can add up over ten years. Plus the downtime, headaches and safety issues with breakdowns and a mechanical spring-loaded device.
3) Purchase an under-capacity or too small of a dock leveler. It may even be called heavy duty, but if it is not heavy enough for your usage it won’t hold up to the rigors of forklift traffic and a loading dock environment. This leads to safety issues and unneeded service calls. Sure the right capacity will cost more upfront but it will pay for itself very quickly. Insist your provider gives you crystal clear information, from the manufacturer, which spells out the capacity you need. Keep in mind the static load rating is not the same as your usage, these are two different ratings. It is important to know the difference. Not all dock levelers are created equal. I would strongly encourage you to compare the spec or build sheets on the equipment as well as gain a full understanding of the structural design.
4) Utilize an inexperienced or low-buck installer to weld the leveler in or a concrete contractor to install the leveler to form a new dock leveler pit. There are two ways to construct a dock leveler pit, right and wrong. Many contractors take shortcuts because they bid the job low to get the work. Who pays in the long run when curb angles and concrete comes loose in five years? The same applies to the installation. Little things like proper and full welds on the shims make a big difference several years later.
Regarding the concrete work and installation of a new leveler any reputable distributor/installer will offer a lifetime guarantee on their workmanship. Be sure you get this guarantee with your new leveler, to reduce your risks. We have estimated over 30% of the service calls we handle could have been avoided if the equipment would have been properly installed.
President, Dock & Door Tec, Inc.
As a seasoned industry veteran, I have heard “I hate that door” many times in my career. Why would someone hate a door? The root of the problems are due to one or more of these three reasons: wrong application, wrong activation or install/service issues.
Wrong application. As a commercial door and dock equipment dealer, we often see a misunderstanding of equipment capability. Perhaps viewing a door in action at a trade show or at another facility and thinking “that will work for us” leads to a poor decision. Understand not all doors are equal. There are so many types and variations it is tough to know them all unless you live in the door industry and provide and service all types of doors. Many door dealers are focused on sectional doors which are typically the lowest-performing door available. Be sure to work with a dealer who handles all types of commercial doors such as high-speed fabric, high-speed steel & security, high performance, impact, sliding, fire and more.
Wrong activation or safeties? A door is only as good as the tools (activation & safeties) used to open/close it. Many factors need to be considered to determine the best method to open/close your doors and keep your personnel safe. Not all applications are the same. Not even close.
Undependable door. How could this happen? Even the best-applied door with the right activation will be hated if it was installed wrong or improperly adjusted or serviced. Many door dealers utilized sub-contractors which are paid by the job with no tie-back to quality. A low-cost installation will become a big expense for you in the years to follow.
Many reps will simply try to “sell” whatever they have rather than look out for your best interest. Be sure to work with a dealer who can offer multiple solutions on both doors and activation while guaranteeing their workmanship for the life of the installation. Application, activation and proper installation/service will keep you from uttering the words “I hate that door.”
Minimizing Facility Down Time
Are you in ‘fire-fighting’ mode when it comes to equipment, repairs, and maintenance? Sure, sometimes things happen that are out of anyone’s control but is that the exception or the rule in your facility? Facility Managers understand that there’s a much greater expense in downtime with equipment than saving a few bucks on a less than ideal PM program. Have you ever found yourself in the position of having equipment go down soon after you’ve had your PM? Here are a few questions you can ask your provider, and yourself, to ensure you’re getting what you need and would expect from a Proactive or Preventive Maintenance program.
By understanding your own needs you can ensure your provider is meeting them allowing you to focus on your real duties, not fighting fires. At Dock and Door Tec we strive to partner with our clients and help them solve problems with their doors and loading dock equipment. If you’re wondering if you can do better with your PM and service give us a call and let us show you why we think we’re the best in the business. If you are a PM client of ours I thank you for your business.
Account Manager, Dock and Door Tec
An area of your facility that generally gets very high usage would be your doors, whether it be overhead doors, rolling steel doors, fire doors, bug/screen doors, freezer/cooler doors, traffic doors or high-speed doors. They get used relentlessly and most people don’t give them a second thought until there is a problem. Every facility is different and has specific needs as well as traffic patterns and equipment. Your door service provider should be able to talk to you about all of these different applications and help you make the best possible decisions for your specific needs. The correct application and installation will save both time and money, which we could all use a little more of.
Make sure your door service provider is not ‘One Dimensional’ and can only offer you very limited options simply because that’s what they have. Your service provider should be able to help guide you and understand the different compliance requirements such as AIB, FDA, USDA, TSA, Global Food Safety, OSHA. There are consequences to not meeting the requirements and downtime that transfers directly to your bottom line. Doors play a large role in compliance.
Don’t get caught with an issue where a door won’t close on Friday afternoon when everyone has plans to head up north or at a minimum be done with work at a reasonable hour. Service and upgrades to existing doors are as critical as the door application itself. Make sure your service provider is truly an expert and can help you with all of your doors from this perspective as well.
At Dock and Door Tec, we work with all these types of doors on a daily basis in a vast array of commercial/industrial environments. Whether you have questions or are looking for options feel free to give us a call, we are here to help!
Dock & Door Tec, Account Manager
I recently worked with a client that had a need for vehicle restraints. The company is very safety conscious and noticed they were having some issues with trailers creeping away from their loading docks even though they had been chocked. During our conversation we discovered that the company was handling loads with various trailer types; refers, a straight truck with lift-gates, and standard trailers. They, of course, had been looking at a few different dock equipment companies to provide solutions for their facility and had been given the basic information on standard hook restraints. The question is, will these work.
When your facility is looking into vehicle restraints, there are some basic rules of thumb that should be taken into account.
1.) What is your company’s protocol for securing trailers at the loading dock?
2.) What types of trailers does your facility receive at the loading dock?
3.) What policy will you have in place regarding communication between your dock and the driver?
In the case above, no one took into account that the same dock will receive both standard trailers and lift gates. While the external hook restraints will work for the standard trailers and refers, the problem came in with the lift gates. The gates are lowered before the truck backs into the dock. This renders the restraint useless and they could be damaged by the gate being in the lowered position and backing into them.
The solution. A pit hook restraint. These mount under the dock and are fully retracted when not in use. This allows for the hook to engage the rig bars on your standard trailers and refers and communicates with the drivers that their vehicles are secured. Now, how do you secure your lift gate trucks? What is your protocol for communicating with the dock and drivers as to who is secured and who isn’t?
We looked at the situation, spoke with the facilities coordinator and came up with a complete two-part solution for their individual need.
In most cases, loading docks will be able to use one type of vehicle restraint or another. The question is, are you asking the right questions when dealing with a dock equipment company? How do you know the equipment will work for your situation and be cost-effective?
I hope this information is helpful if you are looking into vehicle restraints. If you would like more information on what questions you should ask or for information on the different types of solutions that are available, please feel free to contact us directly.
When is the ideal time for your critical equipment to break? I would guess your answer would be never. Since we all live in reality we know every piece of equipment could break at any given time. No matter how good the manufacturing process, no matter how good your maintenance program is, sometimes parts just break. If you have ever had to make an urgent call, all the while hoping that you can get a technician out to take a look at it and then hoping beyond hope that the service technician has the parts on his truck to fix the problem, you understand the stress.
Over the past several years I have seen a subtle change that moves the chances of a quick repair from a 50/50 gamble to almost a certainty. This strategy is not “a weird little trick” it is a sound business decision. More and more companies are stocking parts for their critical equipment. Having parts on hand eliminates one of the most common factors, out of stock parts. Just call in your service company or have your qualified maintenance mechanic make the repair. As the saying goes “Control what you can control.”
Just this morning I got a call from one of our rural clients, a 3PL that runs at full capacity. Their docks and doors are critical. Over the weekend they had a door spring break. They had a replacement spring on the shelf and were able to replace the broken spring and get the door working. Now, I don’t recommend just anyone climb a ladder and start replacing door springs as winding springs can be a dangerous endeavor. They have qualified mechanics on staff and of course, had the parts they needed. After their call, I ordered a replacement spring and in a couple of days, they will have their new door spring on the shelf.
We also have several clients that keep parts for their loading docks on hand. Some clients do their own work and some call on us to provide service. Control what you can. If you need help in determining which parts you should stock we can help.
Finally, summer is upon us. The snow is gone, the days are warmer and your warehouse doors seem to stay open day and night to allow the breeze to pass through.
As temperatures outside heat up so do temperatures inside. Things can start to get downright hot in the warehouse. A deceivingly gentle breeze across a hot asphalt parking lot can actually raise the ambient temperature in your warehouse by several degrees. Couple this with a busy work environment and you could have a formula for heat exhaustion or heat stroke of employees. This can and has happened in warehouses across the United States.
How can you keep your cool?
One easy and cost-effective way is to invest in HVLS fans. These are designed to circulate large volumes of air at very low speeds. By keeping the air moving throughout your warehouse it keeps the ambient temperature down while allowing the doors to be open and the breeze in. They also help to keep humidity down and cut down on dependency on your HVAC system.
But, this leads to another dilemma… Pests and Birds…
You have your HVLS system moving air, the doors are open, everyone is in a little better mood, until… The bird and bugs make their way in. How much production is lost swatting bugs or chasing birds out of the warehouse? This could be a popular discussion topic on its own here in Minnesota. Do you have swarms of flying insects being “Drawn to the lights” just to die off and fall on your inventory?
To prevent pests from getting in while allowing the doors to be open and the breeze to flow simply invest in affordable dock screen-style doors. No more swatting mosquitoes or chasing birds around. Just a nice, comfortable warehouse and productive employees.
Don’t let summer go by without enjoying what it has to offer.
Consult with professionals now who can help evaluate your situation and provide proper solutions.
In everyday life, there is a risk in just about everything we do. Most of that risk is so insignificant that we don’t even give it a thought. In a warehouse and especially at a loading dock the risk increases drastically. OSHA makes the following statement on their website, “loading docks can be dangerous places for forklifts, falls from a loading dock in a forklift can be fatal.”
With a combination of personnel, heavy equipment, moving product and trucks in the docks, the risks are endless. So, how do you assess risk and what do you do with that assessment?
Webster Defines Risk as: risk noun \’risk\
: the possibility that something bad or unpleasant (such as injury or loss) will happen
: someone or something that may cause something bad or unpleasant to happen
: a person or thing that someone judges to be a good or bad choice for insurance, a loan, etc.
It’s clear that working on a loading dock can be risky. Lots of heavy moving parts combined with foot traffic and moving trucks.
Maybe the bigger questions are:
It is critical to understand the risk in your warehouse and how to mitigate that risk as much as possible. Part of risk mitigation is understanding the costs of death or injury versus the cost of equipment meant to limit the risk. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the cost and maintenance of a truck restraint or a properly maintained dock leveler are far less costly than a serious injury or death.
Have no doubt, mitigating or eliminating risk is attainable, it takes a commitment from management and staff. It takes a clear understanding of the risk and the expenses of doing everything or doing nothing. If you would like more information on risk management or mitigation please contact any of us at Dock & Door Tec. We will be happy to take a look at your facility, listen to you and provide you with a plan to help mitigate your risk.