Dock Equipment Tips

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What kind of dock levelers does Rite Hite have?

About Rite Hite Dock Levelers

Rite Hite prides itself on its dock levelers, claiming they are durable, reliable, easy to service, built to handle the most demanding dock operations and offer low lifetime ownership costs. Here is what Rite Hite has to offer in the way of dock levelers:

  • Hydraulic dock levelers such as the Rite Hite Hydraulic dock leveler (RHH), Rite Hite Vertical Storing dock leveler (RHV) and the H-J 3200 Jumbo dock leveler.
  • RHA Air-powered dock leveler.
  • Rite Hite Mechanical dock leveler (RHM).
  • Specialty dock levelers such as the Hydraulic Railcar Ramp and the truck activated Fully Automatic Mechanical Leveler.
Rite Hite also boasts Smooth Transition Levelers, designed to provide a smooth path between your loading dock floor and the trailer by cutting down on the bumps and gaps typical on traditional levelers. This feature is standard on the company's Rite Hite Hydraulic (RHH), air-powered (RHA), mechanical (RHM) and vertical storing hydraulic (RHV) levelers.

   
Do I really need signal lights in my dock area?

Better Visibility Equals Good Risk Management

Dock lights--both the traffic signal dock light signal and the loading dock spot light --are an important part of good operational risk management. Sometimes the "red means stop" light is the only signal a driver may recognize if a hazardous situation arises where a truck should not depart from the loading dock or proceed into the loading dock area.

Dock lights are another one of those measures that can reduce the need for a lawyer by preventing mishaps caused by a simple lack of communication. It's a bad idea to leave all the work up to the spotter's hand signals.

"Green for GO and Red for STOP" signals do prevent mishaps--it's the reason why military airfields employ them on busy runways--in addition to the radio relay, the signal light provides an extra layer of security. Dock lights for illumination work in their own way for risk reduction--the better the visibility in your loading area, the easier time your drivers have maneuvering into position. You can't be sued for bad visibility with a functioning and properly installed array of dock lights.

   
Why does my shop need dock barricades?

Dock Barricades and Workplace Safety

Some shops require forklifts and other loading dock equipment to operate in the vicinity of ledges and other surfaces that could create a safety hazard for the operator. The operator, for the lack of a dock barricade, may accidentally drive off the operating surface.

If your crews are running loading dock equipment without dock barricades, your shop, work site or storage facility has a large risk factor that is easily eliminated with the installation of dock barricades. Your initial investment in dock barricades as part of your safety plan not only contributes to risk management operations, it also helps minimize the chance of an accident and therefore helps minimize the chance of a lawsuit.

   
Do I need to measure my work area before ordering a dock leveler?

Dock Levelers--Measurements Required!

The dock levelers model you order will depend on the kind of application you'll be using it for.

* The dock levelers - known as railroad dockboards - are used for dock-to-railroad car service.

* If you are loading tractor trailers from a loading dock, chances are you'll need an edge of dock leveler or a traditional pit dock dock leveler to get the job done.

Whatever model you choose, you'll need to do some additional research as many of these models have subcategories, and many of them have manual models as well as hydraulic dock levelers versions.

As usual, you will need to take your operation's dock dimensions and space restrictions into account when making your order. For the larger models you'll also need to insure you have the clearance for the fully extended configuration of the dock leveler.

   
How can I improve my current dock levelers?

How to Improve Your Current Dock Levelers

Loading dock levelers handle your precious cargo -- most of your deliveries and shipments cross over them. Therefore, it's worth your while to upgrade and secure the best dock levelers you can. Here are some ideas for upgrading, courtesy of ritehite.com:

  • Convert a mechanical dock leveler into a hydraulic dock leveler and you will get rid of ergonomic issues and maintenance costs related to a mechanical leveler. A hydraulic leveler will allow you push button control, unrestricted full range float and lower average maintenance costs.
  • Add a safety barrier to prevent dangerous falls from vacant loading docks. Most dock levelers are not equipped for dock drop off protection. A steel barrier will protect fork trucks from traveling off the edge of an open dock.
  • Replace your dock leveler weather seal so you are not losing heat or cool air in the gaps around your dock leveler. If the gaps are left uncovered, they can become as large as 14-by-14 inches and cost you $557 a year. These weather seals will pay for themselves in 4 months or less.
  • Replace your loading dock bumpers because loading dock bumpers that are damaged or missing can cause backing trailers to make contact with your building. This can cause structural damage that can cost a lot to repair.

   
How can I prevent collisions in my dock area between motor vehicles and walls/fixtures?

Collision Prevention In Dock Operations

When driving in docks and warehouses, it is often difficult for forklift operators, golf cart drivers, and other vehicle operator's to judge the proximity of walls, rails, and dock openings. Most docks have yellow paint, tape, and other indicators, but the simple act of using a reflective tape can often provide an early warning to a distracted or fatigued operator. In addition to reflective tape, you can also install strategically placed LED displays, low-intensity flashers, and pylons, but the most effective collision avoidance system for motor vehicles and the walls and fixtures of your dock area are physical barriers. Plastic or rubberized barriers placed within a foot or two of potential collision areas may limit some vehicle range or movement, but if you can afford losing two or three feet in your dock area near potential collision hazards, the barrier is an excellent choice. A more space-saving solution may be to "tape off" a potential collision area in the same way that police will tape a crime scene to prevent bystanders from wandering into the area. A tape barrier won't prevent a collision, but can serve as adequate early warning of an impending mishap.

   
How can I keep heat from leaking out of my dock area in the winter?

Docks And Heating Costs

Is money blowing out the doors of your dock? Your dock doors probably have gaps of two inches or more even with a trailer pulled right up to the opening. If you operate in cold weather conditions this can increase your heating costs by hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but fortunately there are ways to cut down on the loss of warm air in your dock area.

One area to pay special attention to is the space between dock levelers and the loading dock pit wall. It is not enough to install seals around the sides of your dock opening, double check the dock leveler, too!

Vinyl and brush seals can be installed around your dock openings to help seal off those open spaces between the wall and the trailer. Sometimes you can't install a thick enough dock seal with a brush or vinyl version. Did you know inflatable dock seals are also available? These seals project away from the building and can be a very practical alternative to the "fixed" brush or vinyl dock seals. Best of all, many inflatable seals offer a "constant pressure" feature which allows them to remain functional even with a tear or rip. No matter which solution is right for you, keeping your energy bills low with a sealed dock area will help you stay within your heating budget.

   
How can a traffic light system increase safety in the dock area?

Dock Equipment Traffic Control

Sometimes your dock is just too busy to be safely controlled with common sense and a watchful eye. A dock traffic light system can be used in two ways. The first is used as a system to alert a truck driver when it is safe to approach the dock or drive away. In this application, you'll need to alert the driver through radio communication, signage, or other means in order to get them to pay heed to the signal lights.

Another application is to control traffic in and out of difficult areas. Forklifts and golf carts required to make blind turns or enter narrow passageways can use this system to alert oncoming traffic that a vehicle is coming to or from the sensitive area. Many traffic light packages come with signage that increases the safety awareness in these areas, but it's vital that all dock workers are trained and informed as to proper procedure when this equipment is installed. Complete training insures compliance, and helps your team get used to the new equipment.

   
How can I secure trailers in my dock area?

Do You Need Dock Security?

Some dock managers recognize security risks or theft potential for trailers parked overnight in a dock area. There are many solutions for different dock security needs, but you may need a trailer-specific solution for overnight parking. If you feel some loads are at risk, consider installing a thirty-dollar device known as a "king pin lock". This is a keyed device that covers a trailer's coupler or king pin. This preventing the trailer from being moved until the lock has been removed once the job is done. A similar device known as the "glad hand lock" prevents coupling with the air line connection of a semi trailer. Still another device is the parking brake lock, which prevents activation of a trailer's brake systems. If you are concerned with unauthorized moving of trailers in your dock area, one or all of these dock equipment solutions can be a major help.

   
How can I save time with portable ramps?

Aluminum Dock Ramps

Many docks use aluminum ramps to facilitate loading and unloading in some areas, and much time can be saved with the purchase of aluminum ramp carts that allow a single person to move the heavy ramps into position. A ramp cart frees up other dock workers to prepare for the load-in or load-out. Best of all, these ramps have adjustable wheels so the ramp can service taller or shorter trailers. It's important to secure these ramps to the truck with the chains provided, and disengage the wheels once the ramp is in place. In the event of trailer creep, the chains will keep the ramp with the truck, and the wheels will not become damaged in the process. There is a minimum ramp height with this option for many models that include ramp carts. Be sure your equipment needs are met by taking the minimum ramp height (one model's minimum is 14") into consideration before purchasing. It's also important to double check the ramp's weight rating to insure it matches the needs of your operation. In situations where a dock isn't free or using one would be impractical, the aluminum ramp and cart configuration is a major help.

   
Why use dock lights?

Why Use Dock Lights

Wherever there is vehicle or pedestrian traffic on a dock, dock lights should be placed. It is dangerous for a truck to back into a dark loading dock. If darkness throws off a driver's depth perception, a truck could overrun a dock, hitting your building, nearby dock equipment or even worse -- a worker. This is why the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires that loading docks be lighted.

Companies such as Rite Hite and Bondor Manufacturing have guided dock lights that are installed directly below loading dock bumpers, lights with accompanying reflectors to illuminate the area even further, combination dock lights/fan systems and traffic dock lights in which truck drivers, at a glance, can know whether to back up (if it's green) or stop (if it's red). Many of these solutions are compatible with any type of loading dock.

   
What types of loading dock bumpers are there?

Types of Loading Dock Bumpers

Loading dock bumpers serve as a barrier between the trucks you serve and your building. Therefore, if they are damaged, missing, or used incorrectly, structural damage can occur, which will cost you money.

There are many kinds of loading dock bumpers. There are steel-faced bumpers, laminated bumpers, extra thick and extra long bumpers and flat plate bumpers for use with dock levelers. No matter which type of loading dock bumper you choose, make sure it is right for your needs. If you have extremely heavy loads coming into your dock, for example, a bumper that can withstand 75,000 pounds of impact pressure may be what's right for you.

   
How do I choose a dock door seal?

Choosing a Dock Door Seal

Dock door seals are made of fabric and surround the top and sides of a loading dock door opening. By making sure your dock door is sealed tight, you are making sure there is no energy loss, theft, product damage, contamination, insects, loss of temperature control or slippery or dangerous conditions inside. To determine what dock door seal is right for you, you must think about the following five factors, courtesy of ritehite.com (the company uses the acronym S.E.A.L.S. to help you remember them):

  • Situation: the size of the trucks you serve and the layout of your dock including the inclines and size of the door opening
  • Environmental control: protection from the elements, energy loss and safety.
  • Access: limited access can damage the seal so think about the load situations most often taking place at your facility.
  • Long life: the product features you choose help determine the life of your seal. For example, trends in trailer design such as air-ride systems put added wear on your seals; armor pleats with proper spacing and strong fabrics keep your seals durable.
  • Support: look into warranties, support and service for your seals.

   
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