Automatic restraints and storing dock levelers help Sartori comply

The restraints and levelers have been used at the manufacturer’s new cheese converting facility to reduce contamination and maintain its cold chain integrity.

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When the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in 2011, one its areas of focus was the loading dock area, as docks can be considered a high-risk zone for food defense and facility security.

So, as the manager of manufacturing excellence at Sartori, a cheese manufacturing company based in Plymouth, Wis., Sara Adams was responsible for not only implementing new regulations like FSMA, but also ensuring the company’s 300 employees are meeting those standards.

“We wanted to use the best equipment possible to ensure compliance with this new food law for the next 20+ years,” says Adams.

With that philosophy in mind, safety and security were two of Sartori’s top priorities when it designed a new state-of-the-art, 100,000-square-foot cheese converting facility—in addition to controlling the dock environment and cold chain.

The design process began on the outside of the building, with the installation of vehicle restraints. To prevent theft, reduce contamination and improve the safety of workers at the dock, Sartori chose automatic restraints that wrap around a trailer’s rear-impact guard, securing the trailer to the loading dock. Unlike wheel chocks, this prevents trailer separation accidents while deterring theft—and can even interface with a company’s security system. The tight connection between the trailer and the loading dock also reduces holes, gaps and other openings where dirt, debris, insects and other environmental contaminants can enter the building.

Trailer access was the next issue addressed. Once a trailer is secure at Sartori’s loading dock, another product—a storing dock leveler—helps maintain security, environmental control and cold chain integrity. To combat security issues, the vertical leveler allows trailer doors to open inside the facility with a “drive-through” application. The seal is broken inside the building by Sartori staff (versus outside by the truck driver), which helps to ensure that product has not been tampered with, damaged or stolen.

The drive-through application of vertical levelers plays a key role in maintaining the cold chain integrity of the facility, helping keep Sartori’s dock at an ideal 34 to 36 degrees. The restraints’ tight connection between the trailer and the dock protects the cold chain as well, as it helps prevent air infiltration from the outside during loading and unloading.

Inside the building, Sartori addressed cold chain integrity by installing high-speed doors to separate the de-boxing and de-palletizing room from the processing room. The ability of these doors to open and close quickly (up to 65 inches per second) helps minimize air infiltration, temperature change and contamination between the two rooms.

As a result of their comprehensive design approach, Sartori was able to ensure quality of the products flowing through the dock of its new facility, from the arrival of raw materials through shipping off of finished products.

“The vertical leveler/drive-through application is great for food processing facilities, as are the other products,” says Adams. “The regulatory requirements, and our customers, expect us to maintain the cold chain. With the system we now have in place, there are no temperature fluctuations inside the dock area, regardless of the weather outside.”

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