Finding The Right Leveler for the Job
The loading dock is the central hub of activity for a warehouse. The efficient on-loading and off-loading of goods represents the life flow of a company and anything that impedes that activity or threatens to disrupt it is a threat to the company’s well-being.

The choice of an interface between delivery trucks and the dock itself is crucial. Failure to choose the best leveller for a dock application can jeopardize the safety of workers. It can lead to work stoppages and even damages to expensive equipment. Companies need to learn how to assess their docks; the product they are interacting with and what types of levellers will best suit their particular applications.

In addition, cleanliness is a major concern for food distributors and dock doors are major thoroughfare for dirt and debris.

“One of the reasons that we ended up switching to vertical dock levellers in our facility is cleanliness”, says Chris Wilmoth, Auckland Coolstore Manager for Foodstuffs Limited.

Before switching to the vertical style of dock leveller, Foodstuffs relied on mechanical pit levellers to bridge the gap between the dock and the delivery vehicle. However, the physical logistics of having pit levellers presented a number of challenges to the company.

“With the vertical levellers we are using, we actually have a pit that runs the length of the dock. It has steps going down into it that make it easier for our people to clean out any dirt and debris that might collect in there and make sure it’s clean enough to pass health inspections”. He says the pit levellers were much harder to access for cleaning.

“Many companies are going with the vertical storing leveller all the way throughout their facilities, just because you get the advantage of cleanliness. You don’t have a hidden pit that you have with the pit style leveller that you can only access and clean from outside the building. With the vertical, everything is standing up. It’s visible, it’s there for cleaning. Wash down is easier”.

Foodstuffs move a lot of refrigerated food through its dock doors as part of its food distribution business. The company had to find ways to help cut down on energy loss and preserve the temperature integrity of the food. Switching to the vertical dock levellers provided great benefits in that respect. With verticals, trailers typically back into the specially designed loading dock bay before their doors are open. It makes for a complete seal between the trailer and the facility. Then the driver opens the doors inside the building and the vertical dock leveller is lowered into place inside the bed of the trailer. Imagine the driver having to open the doors in the parking lot, where its 2 degrees inside and 25 degrees outside. The driver has to swing them back, lock them, walk 20 meters back to the cab and then back the truck the rest of the way to the loading dock.

In that time a great deal of cold air can be lost. Kelley Company, being the manufacturer of Vertical Dock Levellers did a study recently that showed companies actually lose one ton of refrigerate air per dock door per year, on average, when they use pit levellers instead of vertical dock levellers. If a ton of refrigerated air costs a minimum of $570.00 to generate, that means on a 10 door facility a company is losing $5700.00 a year on cold air going outside its doors – a significant expense.