Often we visit potential clients who are interested in replacing dock levelers. The potential client has already met with other suppliers who may or may not have provided information and a proposal. Today we speak to one client, in particular, the client was now looking for additional quotes. Unfortunately, the information they received was not correct, which makes the pricing irrelevant. We hope to provide you information of value based on this particular meeting identifying key items to be aware of when planning to replace a dock leveler.
Over the past 22 years that I’ve been in the loading dock and door industry I have worked as an installer/technician, account rep, operations manager and for the past 8 years a business owner. Not surprisingly these are some of the things I have come across repeatedly. When considering a replacement leveler be sure you have a full understanding of these red flags.
#1 — Rear Curb Angle. This critical piece of steel should be embedded into the concrete when the dock pit was initially constructed. There is no maybe with this. It is pass or fail. If the person you’re meeting with to the review pricing and installation cannot tell you a definite yes or no in regards to a replacement, find a new company to partner with. Untrained and/or careless installers have been known to break rear curb angles loose when removing the old leveler, lookout for a “maybe” story on the front side. A high-quality company with high-quality installations will be able to tell if the rear curb angle is a pass or a fail. Other curb angles (side, front or vertical) may need repair or replacement as well. An educated and properly trained rep will be able to tell by looking, even with the old leveler still in the pit.
#2 — Forklift capacity, weight, and usage. Not all dock levelers are created equal, neither are the manufacturers that build them. One manufacturer may recommend a 30,000-pound capacity leveler and another may recommend a 45,000-pound capacity leveler. Be sure to get the manufacturer usage and weight charts or data before making a decision. If the company you’re working with cannot clearly explain how this works and supply clear cut manufacturer-provided information find a new company to partner with.
#3 — Is everything else OK? What issues are you having with the existing equipment? What works? What doesn’t? These questions need to be reviewed. Changing something as simple as the dock bumpers can create issues. Read on!
… View Parts 4-6 in next week’s post
These first three of six red flags are a few of the things that need to be identified prior to starting a project to replace a dock leveler. If you need additional information or are contemplating the best approach feel free to contact us at any time.
Thank you for reading!
President/Owner – Dock & Door Tec.
Since before the first loading dock was installed dock safety has been a concern. As the equipment got better, faster and heavier so too has the danger of working on a loading dock. We have all heard that safety is everyone’s responsibility but after seeing what I have seen on the docks, I question that old adage. I have seen fully loaded forklifts going far faster than they should, I have seen dock equipment ready to collapse being used. I have even seen my boss nearly crushed by a forklift.
So, who is really responsible to stop these mishaps and near misses? In the end, it is your reasonability to keep yourself safe first. You may say that it’s a self-centered act to think of yourself first but I contend that if everyone considered their personal safety first then everyone as a collective unit would be safer as a whole.
It may be difficult to eliminate all loading dock mishaps but it is possible to minimize the damage to both personnel and equipment.
This is a very limited list and each facility has its own unique challenges, know your surroundings and keep yourself safe.
Operations Manager, Dock & Door Tec
To understand dock levelers we must first understand the purpose. A dock leveler is intended to act as a bridge to safely allow for the transfer of goods from a trailer to the building and vice versa.
To best determine the type of leveler needed it is important to gain a full understanding of your needs. Many factors should go into the decision, such as the volume of use, gross weight transferred, type of material handling equipment used (forklift, hand loading, pallet truck, conveyor, etc.), size of product handling, and building layout are just a few.
Regarding cost, of course, the upfront cost is important but we see many paying less upfront (they really got a good deal!) but paying exponentially more over the life of the equipment due to a poor purchasing choice. Looking beyond the upfront cost and understanding the cost of ownership is very important. The other variable is safety, with the wide ranges and type of equipment available safety never has to be compromised.
Operation types can be broken down into three basic types: mechanical, air and hydraulic. There are hybrids of these which are often a great choice, for example a hydraulic leveler with a mechanical lip will work great in many applications.
Type of levelers:
Whether you are replacing existing equipment or designing a new facility it is important to keep your long terms needs front and center when selecting the right piece of equipment.
Big Fans of Big Fans
We’re not talking about the fans who go crazy when you fulfill an order or create a new process. We’re talking about those really big ones that you may have seen somewhere. The proper name for these big fans are HVLS fans. A high-volume, low-speed fan (HVLS) is a large, commercial-grade fan often used to supplement heating and cooling systems. Unlike ordinary fans that span 36 to 52 inches, HVLS fans have diameters up to 24 feet. This bigger size allows them to move huge amounts of air while rotating at slow speeds. The blades of the fans are designed to create an enormous column of air that travels down to the floor and outward in all directions. This jet of air travels horizontally (much farther than residential fans), before flowing back up and reentering the fan.
Benefits of an HVLS fan
There are many sizes and models of HVLS fans. You can even integrate some with solar power or centralized control centers. HVLS fans can provide immediate advantages for your warehouse, and their energy savings and efficiency-boosting abilities mean you can recoup your investment in a short amount of time.
Check out this article from Hunter’s Senior VP, Jeff Chastian on why you need HVLS fans.
To see how much your facility can benefit from our fans, contact us today.
Whether you are replacing existing equipment or designing a new facility it is important to keep your long terms needs front and center when selecting the right piece of equipment.
Recognize the importance of the loading dock
The loading dock is so much more than a platform or entryway — it’s a pivotal part of the supply chain and should be treated as such. Some prefer to call it the Material Transfer Zone (MTZ), as it’s where the important exchange of finished products and raw materials occurs. During this transfer, goods are vulnerable to theft, fire, vandalism, and more.
Know governmental requirements
Depending on the types of materials you are transferring, your handling process may need to meet certain governmental requirements. Agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service; and the Food and Drug Administration all have certain guidelines that can affect your supply chain, including the MTZ. It’s important you become familiar with the various government initiatives and, if need be, modify your loading dock procedures.
Scrutinize your facility from a criminal’s point of view
Walk around your property and examine how easy it is to gain entry into your building. Are locks easily compromised? Are there gaps in or around your loading dock? Do you have a security system? If you realize your facility is less than secure, consider investing in an overhead door/vehicle restraint system that is connected to an electronic security system. When a trailer is released without permission or if the door is breached, an alarm will sound and alert you of any possible dangers.
Upgrade dock door locks
Most manually operated, overhead doors come with locks that are easily broken, making your plant susceptible to unauthorized entry, and standard slide locks eventually wear out and are useless if not replaced or repaired. Not to mention, these types of locks are often ineffective simply because workers forget to engage them. For better defense, ensure your overhead door is secure by installing an automatic lock-down security system.
Use security gate
In hot weather, it can be tempting to leave your dock door open to allow airflow, but a wide-open door simply acts as a welcome sign to unwanted visitors. Instead, of shutting the door completely and suffering through hot, unproductive conditions, think about putting in a steel folding security gate. It allows you to protect your warehouse from unauthorized entry while still allowing visibility and airflow. Also, you can make the dock area more comfortable by installing industrial-grade fans and air exchangers.
Lockdown landing gear
After a trailer is properly positioned against a dock door, it’s not uncommon for a truck driver to unhook his vehicle from the trailer and drive away. However, this poses a security risk at unmonitored docks, as someone could raise or lower the nose of the trailer to create a gap between the trailer and open dock door (a possible entry point). To prevent this problem, use heavy-duty locks on all trailer landing gear, which makes it impossible to move the trailer up or down.
Consider using vertical storing hydraulic dock levelers
There are many types of dock levelers and each has their benefits, but if security is of particular concern at your plant, you may want to use a vertical storing leveler since it allows both trailer and dock doors to remain closed until the trailer is safely connected to the dock and a seal is in place. With other types of levelers, the driver may need to open the trailer door prior to backing into the loading/unloading bay, which puts the cargo at risk for an indefinite amount of time.
Use vehicle restraints
Vehicle restraints keep the trailer from separating from the dock during loading and unloading, and while they are commonly used for worker safety, they are also useful for preventing trailer hijacking. Also, if they are integrated with your dock’s alarm system, a signal will sound if a trailer is unexpectedly released.
Install seals and shelters
Dock seals and shelters are most commonly used for energy efficiency and to guard the warehouse from outside elements, but because they close gaps, they also reduce pilferage and some models can even protect against fire.
Always follow a loading/unloading process
Whenever there are variations in your loading/unloading process, the potential for error and mishaps is greater. An effective way to sequence your operation is to use an electronic dock control system that integrates all your equipment (leveler, restraints, door, shelter, and security) into one streamlined procedure. Such a system ensures all components interlock correctly and prevents damage, which helps to reduce failures and gaps that can lead to unwanted entry into your building.
If you’re unsure if your loading dock is properly secure, ask a professional loading dock company, such as Dock & Door Tec, to inspect your facility. It’s always best to take preventative measures than to deal with the aftermath of a security breach.
In today’s competitive economic environment, it’s important for businesses to cut costs wherever they can. Energy consumption is something nearly every warehouse can reduce, and even making small changes can result in big differences for your bottom line. Whether you’re looking for modest adjustments or a complete overhaul, here are five ways to make your warehouse more energy efficient:
1. Reduce Lights and Switch to LED Fixtures
When wanting to reduce lighting energy use, first consider the needs of your warehouse. How much lighting do you really need? In many facilities, there are rarely lit areas that don’t need to be lit on a daily basis. Also, automated warehouses and those used strictly for storage can get by on much less light than those with a lot of human activity. If you have such sections in your warehouse, consider reducing the number of lights or wattage in these areas, or connect them to a separate switch and only turn them on when needed.
As far as light bulbs, switch to LED bulbs, which last longer and are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs (as much as 80% energy savings). LEDs have bright lights, illuminate immediately, and are sold in heavy-duty varieties capable of withstanding impacts and are perfect for a warehouse environment.
2. Repair or Replace Your Loading Dock Door
Most warehouses have one or more loading docks attached to the building, and, if not maintained properly, they can be a major source of energy loss in a facility. Damaged or dented dock doors can cause gaps between seals or tracks, which lead to drafts and overworking of air conditioners.
If you only have minor dock door damage, you may be able to repair the problem or replace the bottom door panel. However, if it’s in major disrepair or entirely inefficient, you may want to upgrade to a modern impactable or polyurethane door that can block drafts and take a hit without consequence.
3. Outfit Loading Dock with Seals, Shelters, and Blankets
While you’re examining the dock door, ensure your door opening has adequate seals and shelters. These create a seamless passageway between trailer and dock, so you can maintain a constant climate in your warehouse even when loading and unloading.
There are an assortment of seals and shelters available that use everything from foam, curtains, pads, inflatable systems, and more to weatherproof your loading zone. When dock doors and levelers are not in use, dock blankets are a great way to help insulate the leveler and seal any energy losing gaps.
4. Perform Regular Maintenance
In addition to having your loading dock regularly maintained, you should also perform routine upkeep on other energy-producing systems in your warehouse. For instance, schedule annual checkups for your heating and cooling systems, replace filters regularly, clean out vents, and tune-up refrigeration units.
Keeping such systems serviced is not only important for energy saving, but also for maintaining smooth operations.
5. Install HVLS Fans
Whether in a loading dock, warehouse or manufacturing area the proper layout and installation of high volume low speed (HVLS) fans can greatly reduce energy loss and increase employee comfort. Movement of air can make a big difference. Also, there are many types and sizes of HVLS fans so they can often fit in smaller places, which historically has been limited.
6. Invest in Renewable Energy
If you have some extra money to devote to your energy-saving efforts, you may want to invest in installing renewable energy sources in your warehouse. Things like solar panels, geothermal systems, and skylights can be built into new warehouses or retrofitted into already existing facilities.
Although these tend to cost more upfront, they save on energy over time and are better for the environment.
With society’s eyes on the energy practices of all companies, it makes good business sense to adopt some energy-saving measures. Doing so will show consumers you care while saving on operating expenses.
No matter if you want to do it for the environment or to save money — reducing energy use is a smart idea. When you’re considering ways to cut energy consumption at your facility, don’t overlook one of the biggest sources of energy loss, the loading dock. Essentially, a loading dock creates a giant hole in the side of your warehouse, and without the right equipment (properly maintained), it can cause major heating/cooling escape. Here are five ways you can save energy and make your dock impermeable to outside weather.
1. Repair or Replace Damaged Dock Doors
Dock doors and levelers damaged by forklifts, other vehicles, or from general wear and tear often have gaps along the door frame or compromised seals. These openings allow hot or cold air to come into your warehouse and cause your air conditioners to work overtime. Not to mention, dinged doors often become misaligned on their tracks and are difficult to open and close. This discourages loading dock workers from ever closing the door and produces even more wasted energy.
If you only have minor dents and dings on your overhead door you may be able to fix the problem by just replacing the bottom panel. But, if you have considerable damage, you’ll have better results by upgrading to a fully impactable door, which eliminates air escape and is capable of taking a hit without being damaged. Similarly, levelers can be repaired to ensure they’re sealed correctly, but you may also want to consider installing a new product, such as a vertical storing leveler that has state of the art energy efficiency features.
2. Use Seals & Shelters
Having a well-fitted dock door is your first step in eliminating drafts, but for an even better outcome, you should include seals and shelters throughout your dock area. For example, compression seals attach to the perimeter of the dock door and are made of rugged fabric and foam, so when a trailer backs into the loading bay they compress and effectively seal any openings.
Also, if you have a pit-style leveler, air may be escaping from the spaces around the equipment. However, you can outfit your leveler with a weather seal system, such as the Leveler Koozi, which is made of heavy-duty foam and acts as an insulator for warm or cold climate control. Another option, is to use a leveler blanket. These blankets lay on top of your leveler when it’s not in use, and although simple, they are effective at blocking drafts.
Shelters provide another layer of protection against the outside elements and are generally used in conjunction with seals. They are typically made of durable fabric or foam that attaches around the tops and sides of the trailer and dock door to create a weatherproof enclosure between the two areas.
Since both seals and shelters are positioned on the border of door and trailer, unloading and loading is not impeded, and with the availability of options like foam, inflatable systems, curtains, pads, and an assortment of shelters, there’s virtually no loading dock that can’t be weatherproofed.
3. Rely on a Dock Management System
When you combine your yard, loading dock, and warehouse logistics into one, software powered dock management system, you can create a much more streamlined operation. This means less opening and closing of doors, faster loading and unloading, and fewer trucks idling in wait (wasted fuel) — all of which means saved money.
4. Install Truck Restraints
In addition to having huge safety benefits, truck restraints also are great at controlling energy use by keeping trailers securely in place. With the truck in a constant position, the seals and shelters are better able to do their jobs, and no air will escape because of the trailer shift.
5. Install LED Light Fixtures
Incandescent bulbs are energy hogs and typically have a shorter product life than LED lights. Replacing your old bulbs with LED lights can make a big difference in your energy savings while still providing the high-quality light you need to illuminate your loading area. Modern lights, such as the LED Versa Light, not only reduce energy costs, but are capable of illuminating whole trailers, can resist impacts, and provide a safer and more productive work environment.
If these benefits aren’t motivation enough to upgrade bulbs, the Federal Government, as part of its Energy Independence and Security Act, is planning to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs (the 100-watt bulb is expected to be gone this year), so planning to make the switch now may make the transition easier.
There are many more ways to reduce your loading dock’s carbon footprint and increase savings, but you can see significant and immediate changes just by implementing the strategies above. And with rising utility costs and outside pressure from the government and society to be “green,” these are modifications you can’t afford not to make.