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.