The right mix of dock equipment
October 22, 2011 - MMH Editorial
As Ohio-based Vitamix saw sales of its premium blenders increase, warehouse managers noticed the demand was taking a toll on its six dock bays. Dock levelers were a particular problem, according to plant manager Steve Zimmerman.
“The springs weren’t holding up, there were leaks and erratic operation with the hydraulics system, there were weld issues, and parts were coming loose,” says Zimmerman.
During a recent renovation that included six additional bays, the company installed a range of new dock equipment in its LEED Silver-certified Ohio facility. Since the upgrade, the facility has seen increased uptime, production and safety.
After years of struggling with poorly performing equipment, Zimmerman wanted a reliable solution. A friend recommended a visit from a dock equipment manufacturer with a mobile showroom. The 53-foot semi-trailer gave the Vitamix management team access to more than 20 pieces of the latest in loading dock and warehouse equipment. They could see first hand the durability of the equipment and how it operates, as wel as talk to factory representatives about how to meet their operational requirements.
Vitamix soon installed new hydraulic dock levelers, recessed vehicle restraints, and foam dock seals with head curtains. The new lifts feature push-button operation and are rugged enough to withstand heavy traffic. Zimmerman says the levelers were easy to install and maintain. The recessed restraint retracts into the wall when not in use, a design ideal for snow removal. The hood-style head curtain and foam dock seals accommodate a variety of vehicle heights and are ideal for doors that are 9-feet high or taller.
In addition, the operation of the leveler, restraint and door are coordinated electronically through sensors and programming. Operation of the powered dock equipment is tied into a combo panel on the dock wall. This setup simplifies operation, which is important because, as Zimmerman points out, “Business is booming, so we continue to hire new people at the dock.”
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