Improving Loading Docks: Transforming Shipping Facilities into Safer, More Efficient Places
Developments in the realm of logistics are making it so that packages are being delivered as quickly as they have been processed for shipping. With the rise of same-day shipping in many online retailers most notably with Amazon, efficiency in getting products to customers and parts to manufacturing facilities is getting better and better almost every day.
But while orders are continuing to be shipped faster and faster, and trucks are coming in at a steady pace to take in new shipments and deliver stock replenishments, they continue to bottleneck at the loading dock.
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The loading dock has always been an area of a logistics building that constantly gets overlooked. Very often, they bear the brunt of budget cuts. This is strange to think that the gatekeepers or processors of the actual products and stock are being severely limited.
But now that other facets of logistics have been addressed over the years, loading docks are now taking center stage. Many shipping facilities are now looking at how to improve operations at loading docks to further improve their overall operational efficiency and quality.
Loading Dock Design
Proper design of a loading dock is key to ensuring that operations in the area are smooth and everybody stationed there does their job as quickly as they can without compromising their safety.
Of course, not every shipping facility is blessed with the chance to start with a new building. There are however some key considerations that every facility can use. For example, being more efficient does not mean making as many loading docks as possible. The number of loading docks depends on the number of trucks that come and go into the facility within 24 hours.
Loading dock design also follows efficiency practices by making sure that all the measurements are correct. One thing that can make a loading dock feel sluggish is if the trucks take a considerable time to position correctly, or if the product or stock takes longer to load or unload due to a lack of proper incline. Making trucks fit to the docks like Lego blocks with each other is important.
Another area that can improve operational efficiency and quality of loading docks is in the choice of loading dock parts. Without the right parts, wear and tear will happen more frequently and in worst cases, lead to unwanted workplace injuries.
Of course getting better loading dock parts can mean a higher upfront cost. The payoffs for the increase are noticeable over the long run. With better parts, shipping facilities spend less on maintenance, and even less on paying employees who have been benched due to accidents.
Better loading dock design can only happen if the right equipment is put in place. Employing dock restraints, guarding and rails for ledges can help increase safety around the loading dock.
Just because better and safer loading dock equipment has been installed does not excuse any shipping facility of the need for better and more regular maintenance. Shipping facilities should do so much more than the occasional lube and oil for dock equipment once or twice a year.
Facilities that handle food, especially meats and other wet goods, can benefit from a more regular scrub down of the loading docks. Creating seals at docks and minimizing the entry of air, water and pests like rodents and insects can reduce contaminants. This can also improve the energy efficiency of the facility, especially if it is a cold storage. Doing so also helps shipping facilities stay compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Essentially, proper design, safer equipment and regular maintenance of loading docks helps with improving overall operational efficiency of shipping facilities all over the world when properly implemented.