The loading bay is one of the most critical aspects in any warehouse and logistics operation. Get it wrong and users could be forced into a costly rebuild, before which there will have been poor customer fulfilment through delayed vehicle departures.

This is why it is so important to talk to well-known and established suppliers, whose experienced sales engineers should fully understand clients’ needs and help them achieve raised efficiency. Loading bay operators should also check if suppliers are members of an appropriate trade body like the Association of Loading & Elevating Equipment Manufacturers.

Relying on just architects and/or builders for a smoothly run loading bay invites disappointment. There is nothing more reassuring than checking on some of a supplier’s existing users to see the equipment in action and to check on customer satisfaction levels. It is also advisable to choose a single source supplier, to simplify the issues around CE marking of products. A site operator needs to make sure all the relevant paperwork is in order, otherwise he could become liable in the event of an accident. The single source supplier can CE mark the entire assembly under the Machinery Directive and so make the task of safety compliance easier.

Once a correctly specified loading bay solution has been installed there still remains the issue of how to run it efficiently. The sad fact is that the loading bays account for 25% of all factory and warehouse accidents and if they are run inefficiently, it is because training is lacking and there is no clear loading bay procedure and a lack of maintenance to doors and levellers, along with general negligence.

Loading bay doors, in particular, are likely to command greater interest as Britain’s new warehouses move towards being carbon neutral by 2019. For at least the last 30 years, rapid PVC roller doors have helped conserve energy compared with much slower shutter doors. They also reduce ingress of birds and other pests, an important issue with food stores.

In an age when energy costs are soaring and environmental legislation is becoming more stringent, it behoves all loading bay operators to keep running costs low. Since the advent of rapid roll PVC doors, suppliers like Hormann have extended the fast-acting function to their high speed insulation Spiral doors. Being insulated, they also offer security when closed and so can dispense with having to use two different door types. Another energy saver from Hormann is their recent Dobo system. This allows trucks to dock on the bay before opening the rear doors, improving security and helping to maintain controlled environments.

It is a pity that energy-saving loading bay doors do not qualify under various schemes from the Government and The Carbon Trust. They should be placed on the energy technology list so that users could receive zero per cent loans and claim enhanced capital allowances so that 100% of the investment could be written off in the first year. Fast-acting doors would, for example, probably save as much if not more energy than efficient lights which are on the energy technology list.

Well established loading bay suppliers like Stertil, Sara, Hormann and Union Industries will conduct energy audits for prospective clients as part of their  normal service so it would not be difficult for users to show how much energy they could save when compared with less suitable doors currently in use.

Warehouse & Logistics News