A loading dock is a necessity for nearly any kind of business or warehouse that ships or receives goods, although many people are unaware of its design and function. We at Beuschel Sales get a lot of questions from our customers about what the best kind of dock layout is in order to maximize efficiency and safety. This can vary based on any number of things, including available space for the truck to reach the loading dock, the slope of the dock approach, the loading-dock door size, bumper and dock seal projections, the type of product being loaded/unloaded, the variety of trailers using the dock, and dock height. Does it sound complicated? It can be.
One of the questions we get asked about most frequently is: Why is it necessary to cantilever a dock leveler pit away from a building on a declined approach?
The simple answer (unless you want to learn the geometry involved) is that it’s to keep the top of the trailer from hitting the building. There are several different loading dock designs, and the original is the level-approach loading dock. This type of dock shares the same foundation as the wall of the building it’s attached to. Over the years, in an attempt to keep the trailer from moving away or “creeping” from the dock, declined approaches become more popular, especially in the north where ice buildup under the truck/trailer on approach is a concern and increases the chance of a trailer moving. With a declined approach application, it is necessary to cantilever the dock leveler pit away from the foundation wall to keep the top of the trailer from hitting the building wall.
Most approaches to the loading dock are not completely level, of course, but the steeper the incline or decline, the more problems you’ll have. The tilt of the trailer back to the building will create a flow of water into the building when it rains, it basically becomes a 53’ long 8’ 6” wide rain gutter flowing back into the building. Inclines or declines that are too steep will also create safety hazards for the fork truck driver to be able to climb or stop on the incline with the product.
It’s important to know both your loading dock settings and the fleet of vehicles that will use it in order to avoid both accidents and damage. Many businesses feel that having any loading dock equipment and design is good enough. They overlook the additional safety that proper equipment and design chosen for the approach, the dock, and the vehicles provides. If you would like a professional opinion about how your dock can be redesigned increase efficiency and avoid problems or accidents, call Beuschel Sales today. We’d be happy to discuss your loading dock layout with you.