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Loading bays must be a fliexible friend

By Rob Fay, Managing Director of Easilift Loading Systems.

Double deck trailers are the big success story in logistics, bringing greater efficiency to the distribution of goods. Yet this brings new challenges to the loading bay, as double deck transport usage between distribution centres begins to spread beyond conventional use.

In response to changing usage patterns, some voices within our industry are calling for a change to the height of loading bays to service the growth in double deck trailer usage.

With our knowledge of the industry we believe that in most cases, such an approach will restrict operational flexibility and efficiency.

Our research into the challenges caused by increased use of fixed bed double deck trailers demonstrate drawbacks when using a lift platform to also serve single deck vehicles on the same bay.

We’ve witnessed an increasingly popular scenario, especially in supermarket service yards, where a double deck lifting platform has been installed into an operation currently supported by a single dock leveller bay.

This brings undoubted benefits for the movement of goods by double deck transport; however, when unloading single deck trailers, operators are attempting to compensate for the height differential between vehicle bed and internal warehouse floor in ways that were unsafe, time-consuming and operationally inefficient.

Put simply, changing the height of the bay won’t solve this problem. A more flexible solution is required to give warehouses and distribution centres the option to switch easily and rapidly between single and double deck loading patterns, without comprising on safety or efficiency.

We believe this scenario can be achieved with the creative application of existing technology like the traditional lift leveller. Crucially, this prevents forcing a wholesale change in loading bay dimensions, thereby avoiding expensive and disruptive building work.

Better still, by avoiding structural changes to loading bays, warehouse owners can protect themselves against future problems. Since many warehouses are acquired on a freehold or leasehold basis, users must avoid tying future owners to unwanted loading bay configurations. The type of amendments being called for by some within our industry are useful for a limited range of loading operations, however, this might later deter future operators who have no requirement for similar ways of working.

The call for the widespread introduction of dock heights catering solely for double deck vehicles betrays a lack of long-term planning and is somewhat opportunistic.

While there are certainly circumstances when amending the height of a loading dock is the right move, the realities of the market mean that this approach is not right for everyone.  Investing in the right equipment -rather than changing the configuration of the loading bay – means that all needs can be met more efficiently.

Easilift Loading Systems

www.loading-systems.co.uk