Dock equipment: Clear sign of safety
To keep up with a steady growth in shipping and receiving traffic, Woodman’s Markets’ 230,000-square-foot grocery warehouse in Beloit, Wisc., recently underwent a substantial renovation and expansion. In addition to increasing space to handle 40 truckloads a day, Woodman’s management saw the expansion as an opportunity to upgrade the facility’s safety procedures and equipment, particularly in the loading dock areas.
“Being an employee-owned company, we naturally want to support our warehouse employees with state-of-the-art dock safety systems,” says Woodman’s transportation manager Nick Popp. “Trailer restraints and interior/exterior light communications were at the top of that list.”
After reviewing several approaches, Popp decided to install a rotating hook restraint (Rite-Hite, ritehite.com) on one dock station for a six-month trial. The restraints feature a unique hook design that offers a wide reach around a trailer’s rear impact guard and come standard with the supplier’s light communication system. The system gives dock attendants and lift truck drivers a line-of-sight indication of the lock status, letting them know when it is safe to enter or exit a trailer.
One set of lights is located on the upper corners of the interior dock door and mirrors the status on the control box, giving lift truck drivers and dock personnel a clear view of the lock’s status above obstructions such as product staged next to the dock doors or a forklift’s mast. The lights also provide a reference point for the overhead door opening.
Another set of lights mounted to the back of the dock leveler shows the same status to lift truck drivers while they are working inside the trailer. It also provides a reference point for lift truck operators as they back out of the trailer.
“We got positive feedback on the system almost immediately,” says Popp. “The lift truck drivers, truck drivers and dock workers all appreciate being able to see the status so clearly and easily. It eliminates a lot of stress.”
Based on that feedback, Popp decided to permanently install the system on eight of his 10 dock stations. In addition to improving safety and increasing peace of mind for workers on Woodman’s loading docks, he’s found the new system also increased productivity.
“Since there’s no need to stop and double-check if the trailer is secured, our drivers are more confident and more efficient,“ he adds. “The throughput in this warehouse is higher than ever.”