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.
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.