The loading dock is considered the most dangerous part of warehouse operations—each year, numerous injuries and fatalities occur when lift trucks accidently drive off the dock or fall between the dock and the trailer.
While there are solutions to this problem—such as ICC bar or RIG (rear impact guard) type of truck restraints—there are drawbacks. Mechanical and hydraulic RIG bar restraints are comprised of many moving parts that are often damaged, requiring frequent repair. And ICC or RIG bars can also be damaged, rusted or in some cases, even non-existent.
GMR Safety Inc. has developed a simple, innovative product that addresses these issues. The company’s Power Chock vehicle restraints are wheel-based, so they don’t involve the ICC or RIG bars. By locking the trailers wheels, the Power Chock prevents early departure and trailer creep—the two leading causes of dock-related accidents.
“The Power Chock uses simple physics to restrain the vehicle by its strongest part—the wheel. It simplifies dock safety because it works on every vehicle, at every dock—where there’s a wheel, there’s a way,” says Gaetan Jette, GMR’s president. Jette co-founded the Quebec-based company in 1995 to facilitate a safe environment at the loading dock.
“At that time, the most common type of restraint on the market was the ICC bar and it could not guarantee 100 percent safety and that’s what our customers were really looking for,” says Jette. “One vehicle in four has a damaged or missing ICC bar, but every trailer that’s pulling into a loading dock has a wheel.”
Simple In Design
The Power Chock is comprised of an 18-inch high-tensile steel chock that is mounted to the end of an articulated, counter-balanced arm. The chock is placed in front of the vehicle’s rear wheels and locks onto a galvanized ground plate. Depending upon the needs of the warehouse, the restraining power of the Power Chock can be coupled with a communication system, sensors, lights and interlocks.
One of GMR’s first customers was Molson-Coors Brewery, Toronto, which has been using the Power Chock since 1997. “We had issues with trailers pulling away from the docks when they should not have been and we weren’t using any restraining devices,” says Steve Ropp, distribution manager, Molson-Coors. “We didn’t want to use the ICC bar restraint and we looked at what GMR was doing and liked their approach.”
Ropp says the truck drivers find it’s easier to put the Power Chock in place instead of the traditional little rubber chock. ”Once the Power Chock is in place, it’s sequenced automatically with the lights so they know the status of the trailer—whether it can be pulled out or not,” says Ropp. “The forklift drivers also know by the light sequencing when the chock is in place, so there’s no way the trailer can pull away from the dock while they’re loading it—it gives them a sense of safety.”
Another customer, Southern Wine & Spirits of Arizona, Tempe, AZ, has been using the Power Chocks for two years. “When we built this facility, we were trying to figure out what type of vehicle restraint we were going to use,” says Joel Benavides, warehouse manager, Southern Wine & Spirits. “Many of our customers were using a hook restraint and often our bumper was too low or two high and there were several instances where we had to get a tow truck out to free our vehicle from the restraints. So we didn’t want that. While we had the safety of our employees in mind, we didn’t want the frustration, the damage and the extra costs involved with a regular hook restraint.”
One of Southern Wine’s corporate managers pointed Benavides in the direction of GMR. ”We were really concerned when we first saw the Power Chock because it is just a tire chock with an arm. But we tested it and there’s not one thing I don’t like about it. We’ve not had one single issue with it—the chock has been very functional. Not one time have we had an instance where we’ve had a broken piece of equipment.”