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What is a Loading Dock?

A loading dock is a section of a warehouse or manufacturing plant where trucks gather to load and unload various goods. The loading dock connects the warehouse’s storage area with a sliding door which will open to the back of a freight truck for easy loading and unloading.

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What is a Loading Dock and Why Use One?

Loading docks, or loading bays, make it easy for carriers to load and unload their trucks’ goods in a convenient manner. Loading docks open up to the outside and are equipped with a rectangle opening which allows for a perfect fit for a box truck. Box trucks will back up to these ports and workers will use either forklifts or pallets jacks to move goods to and from the truck’s trailer.

Dry vans and reefer trailers are two of the most common trailer types that you will see loading and unloading from a loading bay. The number of loading bays a manufacturer has will depend on the size of the building and operation. Loading docks are a quick, efficient way to move large quantities of goods to and from a delivery vessel. In addition to their convenience, the use of overhead doors allows for protection from outside elements. This prevents rain, snow or sleet to enter the facility or trailer during the loading process. Loading docks also provide the carrier with a designated area for parking. As a results, the carrier can avoid the headache of driving through crowded parking lots in commercial areas.

Basic Features

  • Loading Dock Shelters and Seals – Shelters and seals help form an air tight seal between the truck trailer and the loading bay. Shelters consist of industrial fabric while seals are typically made of rubber. These features help keep out outside elements such as rain, snow, sleet and heavy winds.
  • Overhead Door – The overhead door also helps protect the interior of the loading dock from outside elements. So to prevent damage to goods or the facility, overhead doors are necessary. For quick turnaround time, facilities should ensure their doors remain functional at normal speeds at all times.
  • Dock Leveler – The dock leveler helps ensure the trailer is attached with an air tight seal to the building. This allows workers and forklifts to safely enter the trailer during the loading and unloading process. Levelers come in three varieties: Hydraulic, Mechanical and Air-Powered.
  • Loading Dock Restraints – This is another safety measure that will ensure the trailer stays in place when backed up and connected. Restraints are located on the building’s outside and will connect to the trailer to avoid slipping or any other movement.
  • Dock Lift – Similar to a leveler, the dock lift allows for proper height levels. This allows all types of trucks to connect to the building.
  • Bumpers – Bumpers play a pivotal role in the connection of the trailer to the loading dock. Bumpers absorb the impact of the connection and help prevent any damage to the building, the bay or the trailer.
  • Dock Lights – Dock lights brighten the area outside of the loading bay as well as the interior of the trailer.
  • Access Points – Most loading bays will have an access point. These areas allow the driver to enter the facility to gather any paperwork he may need for the shipment.
Loading Dock

Where are Loading Docks Located and Who Uses Them?

Loading docks can be found at factories, warehouses, manufacturing plants or other commercial locations. They are primarily used to take in goods while also sending others away in transit. Loading docks are a vital part of the logistics business. They help ensure quick deliveries and pickups, allowing for the supply chain to continue its movements at all times. You may see a loading dock on the side or back end of a building such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Amazon, or Lowes. In addition to these commercial areas, you will also find loading docks or bays at loading terminals or company warehouses.

These locations act as a storage facility between the seller and the customer. When items are ready for transit, carriers will load up at the bay and transport these items to another facility, a commercial property, or possibly a residential area. Big retailers like Amazon use storage warehouses across the nation to reach a wide variety of customers. These locations use a plethora of loading docks, allowing for a speedy, get-in and get-out process. You should consider taking advantage of the convenience of a loading dock when looking to create a quick and painless shipping operation.

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Possible Dangers with Loading Docks

While loading docks offer a wide variety of handy features, they can also create possible dangerous conditions. Carbon monoxide exposure is one of these potential problems. Here are a few steps to take to prevent this harmful exposure.

  • Carriers should shut off their trucks when loading and unloading goods.
  • Facilities should consider using electric forklifts or electric pallet jacks.
  • Carbon monoxide monitors should be installed and tested on a regular basis.

In addition to carbon monoxide exposure, loading docks can also pose a threat when safety precautions are not taken. Failure to ensure loading dock restraints are properly fastened can result in “trailer creep.” Trailer creep is the movement of the trailer when a connection is supposed to be made to the loading dock. This can result in serious injury as forklifts and pallet jacks need secure fastening to prevent significant falls from the trailer. For those looking to improve safety features at loading docks, consider adding dock lights, backup lights and safety nets.

How FreightCenter Benefits from Using a Loading Dock

FreightCenter connects companies and individual customers looking to ship freight across the world to carriers who will offer the best rates possible. Whether you’re trying to ship a pallet of goods or need help with full-truckload shipping, FreightCenter can assist any of your shipping needs. From California to Maine, and even shipping internationally, we’ve got you covered. Loading docks are an integral part of the shipping process for a company like FreightCenter. We want to ensure the smoothest shipping operation possible. And we are able to achieve this through the usage of loading docks at our carrier’s terminals. Without a resource like this, our carriers would be playing catch up as the volume of loads would become almost too much to handle.

Loading docks allow a quick pickup and drop-off process, which in turn provides out carriers with the chance to delivers our customers’ goods as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you are in the market to ship goods, give us a call at FreightCenter. Our agents would be happy to assist you in getting your shipment on the road. By using one of our 60-plus trusted carriers, we can ensure the lowest rates possible.

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