chaz1In any recession the temptation to cut supplier costs is strong, but in certain key areas, like the loading bay, such moves could prove a false economy. Just such a trend has emerged for loading bay equipment suppliers, which could have serious consequences for future running costs and efficiency.

“Customers are cutting back on spending across the board, particularly on  service and maintenance costs,” says Martin Paynter, MD of Stertil UK. “This is a false economy as breakdown frequencies increase owing to lack of maintenance, which has a knock-on effect on loss of use of equipment.”

The loading bay is a vital link in the production and distribution chain,” says Thorwold Industries. “If the loading system fails, goods cannot be despatched or received, causing knock-on delays in the production/distribution cycle. Choosing the right supplier and equipment is, therefore, crucially important in ensuring trouble free operation – minimising costly downtime and maximising productivity.”

It seems that a number of importers and manufacturers of loading bay equipment have introduced “economy” or “entry level” equipment during the recession,” says Alan Jenkins, Commercial Director of Hormann UK. “Such basic units, however, only just meet current legislation and often are not particularly suitable for the use to which they may be put,” he adds.

It is difficult to know if this is driven by the manufacturers or their sales teams who are trying to get a sale on price rather than the overall cost. It seems that the entry level product is designed to show an attractive price to generate interest from the customer before trying to sell up to a more suitable and more costly option.  The obvious concern is that an inappropriate option is sold simply to get a sale. Sara agrees with that finding, saying that main contractors are more price aware than before but that the client agreed specification proves more economical in the long term. Fortunately, it seems that Health & Safety issues still play an important part in the decision-making process and there seems little evidence of safety being compromised for the sake of a few pounds.

Loading bay suppliers could take some heart if they can show that their products offer higher environmental standards. Hormann thought that the volume of empty warehouse stock available had all but stopped the “on spec” build big shed market, “but we are now seeing that this is not the case,” says Alan Jenkins. It appears that even though there is available warehouse stock many of the larger developers are reporting lack of “suitable” warehousing on the market. “Suitable” could mean that the property meets the more recently introduced, higher environmental standards that developers and contractors now work to.

Two examples of environmental concerns are energy costs and vermin control. Rapid roll doors, with or without insulation, from suppliers like Klimate Doors and Sara, are effective both against vermin ingress and energy losses. Another energy saver is Hormann’s new DOBO system, which allows trucks to dock on the bay before opening the rear doors. Even dock lights can make a difference, Stertil, for example, says that its new LED dock lights are proving very popular, owing to 50% energy savings and robust design.

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