Profit and Safety Concerns Dictate Product Innovation

The cost for not staying ahead of trends in dock equipment can be substantial. From a financial standpoint companies can lose up to $2,000 dollars a day from improper dock positioning and the resulting gaps. Workers themselves often suffer from neck and back injuries due to ergonomic design flaws. In addition, food safety issues are created when employees open facility doors, thereby increasing exposure to insects and rodents.


Dock seals

Dock seals help seal surrounding gaps around the trailer and the entry point to the facility. These seals aid in filtering out any light that can penetrate between the two. Mary Blaser, director of marketing and business development for Rite-Hite acknowledges the problems associated with creating a tight seal. She states that the real challenge is creating a tight seal to fit the many different types “of trailers and trucks that are received in any given loading dock” and that may pull up to the dock in variety of positions.

When a tight seal isn’t created on all four sides of the trailer food safety becomes an issue. Without a tight seal the potential infiltration of health hazards such as pathogens, germs, dirt and other potentially harmful elements can have an entry point. From an energy perspective, creating a tight seal is a first-line step to ensure savings. Blaser notes that a company can save between $1,000 to $2,000 dollars annually per dock position just by sealing up these gaps.

Rite-Hite’s PitMaster is an innovative product that seals the area along the bottom of the trailer beneath the dock leveler. This had previously been a difficult area to seal off due to the wide variety of shapes, sizes and configuration of vehicles. The PitMaster solves this issue through the use of multiple components to form a tight seal.

Another benefit to the PitMaster is that it creates a “dead-air” cavity in the leveler pit. This leads to substantial energy savings for a company even if a trailer isn’t parked at the dock.


Dock boards

Dock boards, in general, are a simple way to bridge the gap between the truck and the dock or the warehouse floor. One big advantage to dock boards is that they don’t require a large amount of regular maintenance. This is due in part because they don’t have a large amount of moving parts, they are generally reliable for anyone who has restricted power or who wants to reduce their digital footprint, and they are almost always available.

Furthermore, dock boards are low maintenance and use minimal electricity, which means less cost to a business. The initial cost, along with continued operating cost is generally low. This overall value to a business means that a company can maximize profits.

Bluff Manufacturing’s Speedy Board was designed to “kick it up a notch” when it comes to dock boards, according to the company’s Web site. The Speedy Board has been refined with features such as notches cut in the dock side edge of the dock board so warehouse employees can use a forklift with tilting tongs, easily scoop up the board and use these notches to quickly and simply lift the board right onto the dock.

The benefits of the Speedy Board include increased safety to employees. The forklift driver never has to leave the cage. It is also a more efficient process. Currently, the driver must leave the cage, manually set the chains or the lift loops, drive the board up onto the truck, then pull it back and either remove the chains out of the way or lower the listing loops for use. In total, the present dock board system requires the driver to enter and exit the truck twice. This not only creates a safety hazard, but total efficiency is not being maximized.


Door savers

GMR Safety’s CLEARTOGO DOOR-SAVER works on various kinds of doors. In the food and beverage sector, for instance, companies like Coca-Cola and others typically use side-load operations. With this configuration it’s sometimes difficult for drivers to see if a door is closed or not and they can accidentally hit it. Or the reverse will happen; the door will be rising, the driver does not see it and the end up hitting the bottom part of the door.

GMR’s product works by rapidly positioning a high visibility stop signal in the driver’s field of view, which gives him or her more time to react before the door closes.

Best of all, installing the DOOR-SAVER is cheap and easy. The door saver is mounted by magnets, which reduces installation costs significantly and makes it affordable for most any company.


Vertical Storing Leveler

The vertical storing dock leveler, or VSL, is helping food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies achieve a clean and energy efficient warehouse environment. According to Erin Breen, sales manager of 4Front Engineered Solutions, “The benefit is that it can be physically stored within the building 100 percent of the time, vertically, when it’s not being used and when the trailer comes into the dock door it then is lowered into the trailer.”