Anywhere getting goods and services delivered is a priority there are more challenges this year than ever before. Maintaining your loading dock efficiency is critical to success under pressure. In Madison WI and around the country distribution channels are stressed. The last thing you want to do is make matters worse close to home with failed loading dock equipment, right?
Whether your operation is a multi-state distribution hub with dozens of dock doors or a local supply business with one or two, keeping everything safe and operating as planned is the goal. Your business grinds to a halt of shipping/receiving and staging areas clog.
Smooth, efficient loading dock operations avoid delays, minimize accidents, prevent product damage and meet deadlines. In short, an efficient loading dock equals happy, satisfied customers. And that’s the ultimate bottom line isn’t it?
Keeping loading dock areas safe and secure leads to significant gains in energy efficiency and company losses, too.
Monitor Loading Dock Efficiency, Productivity, Safety
The most efficient way to make sure your loading docks are safe, secure and productive is to monitor activities on a regular basis. Too often, companies are so busy getting on with daily routines they overlook safety concerns – until there’s an accident. Planning ahead pays off in more ways than one – heading off accidents and spotting ways to improve efficiency are cheaper than paying insurance claims and dealing with downtime. Consider these two steps in future plans:
- A safety audit – review procedures and the process in place to both prevent and deal with an accident. Consider accidents involving personal and property injury, the resulting downtime, etc. Make adjustments ahead of time to make the operation safer.
- Evaluate loading dock security – take a close look at all points of entry. Is it easy to get into your facility via the loading dock? Consider an alarm system that alerts when doors are accessed improperly or a trailer is released without authorization. In times of economic stress, crimes of opportunity go up.
Nothing’s More Important Than Maintenance
Each loading dock entrance features mechanical moving parts – dock levelers, vehicle restraints, overhead doors, door opening systems, etc. Each requires specific routine maintenance to operate at peak efficiency. That includes basic cleaning and lubrication.
The more dock opening you have the bigger the task. Where do you start?
- An equipment inventory – if you haven’t done one, review all the various components you have installed. Check everything from basic lights to large permanent installations. Go over your inventory at least once a year to account for anything that’s been added, anything changed or anything missing. Make sure everything is where it should be and working as it should.
- Check on small things – accessories like lights, dock bumpers, trailer stands and other convenience items are easy to overlook. Yet, when they fail to function there’s a problem.
- Seals and shelters – inefficient dock seals cost businesses thousands of dollars in energy costs, not to mention the reduced productivity of crews working in cold or extreme heat. All seals – top, bottom and sides – should be checked for air leaks. Check around dock levelers and overhead doors, too.
- Dock doors – repairing or replacing dock doors is a major expense. Keeping them working properly is a wise investment. A key element in protecting loading dock doors is staff training. Lift truck operators and poor trailer maneuvering as key causes of door damage. If you’ve got a door that’s damaged beyond repair, talk to Northern Door Systems about high-impact replacement doors.
- Equipment controls – loading dock efficiency hinges on maintaining control of all the moving parts. Everything from dock levelers to overhead doors are available with high-end controllers – door opening systems, interlocks, interconnects, etc. They are cost-effective and many can be fitted to existing, older equipment.
Be Aware Of Potential Loading Dock Hazards
As with most situations, keeping loading dock efficiency on track is less costly than putting it right when something goes wrong. There are three suggestions that seem obvious, but are easily overlooked:
- Keep loading docks, clean and dry – water from rain, snow or spills is a leading cause of loading dock accidents. It’s slippery! It can also ruin merchandise and damage equipment – the industrial batteries on modern lift trucks don’t react well to splashes of rain or snow. Proper seal technology guards against snow and rain getting in during normal activities.
- Upgrade equipment – as your business grows and you’re moving more and more in and out your loading dock equipment may not be able to keep up. Have larger trailers and increased demand put a strain on your equipment? Would push-button controls safe time? Part of your annual inspection and inventory should be a realistic evaluation of the life expectancy of your equipment.
- Replace inefficient equipment – a loading dock built 10-15 years ago isn’t likely to be equipped to handle today’s larger loads, bigger trailers and heavier lift trucks. Trying to “make do” leads to door jams, cracks and breaks in pit sidewalls, dock leveler installations and bumpers. Replacing worn out equipment with larger, automated doors, shelters and remote-controlled levelers is a wise solution
Call Upon Loading Dock Efficiency Experts
At least once a year it’s a wise investment to call up the professionals from Northland Door Systems for an overall loading dock review. They’ll put together a maintenance plan and timeline for appropriate service – many of the items are easily done in-house with your own staff. Their loading dock maintenance checklist will include inspecting dock leveler parts including:
- Weather seals
- Dock bumpers
- Conduit and wiring
- Main ramp controls or hold-down assemblies
- All welding
- All cylinders and linkage
- Control boxes
- Rear hinges, lip spools and pins
- Stringers and front and rear headers.
In addition they’ll recommend:
- Clean pit, lip hinge and rear hinge area
- Test dock leveler operation
- Lubricate dock leveler according to manufacturer’s specifications
- Adjust dock leveler according to manufacturer’s specifications
Vehicle restraints are another vital element. They are designed to thwart accidents and prevent trailer crawl or premature truck departure. Inspections of vehicle restraints includes checking:
- Dock bumpers
- Conduit and wiring
- Fasteners and welding
- Outside signs
- Inside signs
- Outside lightboxes
- Control boxes
- Cleaning vehicle restraints operating area
- Testing vehicle restraints operation
- Lubricating vehicle restraints according to manufacturer’s specifications
- Adjusting vehicle restraints according to the manufacturer’s specifications
Working with the best loading dock equipment manufacturers, Northland Door Systems brings the latest technology to every commercial operation. This commitment and relationship with elite equipment manufacturers insures high-tech solutions for businesses throughout southern Wisconsin. Northland Door Systems repairs, installs and stands behind the best commercial doors, commercial garage door openers and loading dock/warehouse accessories. We cover a wide service. To take advantage of our decades of experience, call or email Northland Door Systems at 608-251-3627. Northland Door is your complete resource for loading dock equipment in southern Wisconsin. Maintain your loading dock efficiency at this critical time with on-site service throughout the Madison WI area.