A well-equipped loading bay has the potential to bequeath remarkable environmental gains in ways not, perhaps, immediately obvious. Transdek, for example, a recent winner of the Queens Award for Enterprise in Innovation, offers modular hydraulic lifts specifically to service double-deck trailers, which can carry up to 67% more product than conventional HGVs. Such vehicles have allowed one large UK supermarket chain to claim a cut of 12 million road miles in 2010.

The loading bay, however, can also be a source of high accident rates and public irritation where nocturnal operations are carried out close to residential areas. There has undoubtedly been a trend towards great emphasis on health and safety, says Alan Jenkins, commercial director of Hormann UK, “not only at the design stage but more on the operational side, where additional safety features are being installed retrospectively,” he says. This may be encouraging but Alan also believes that many companies will not take out service agreements to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the loading bay equipment until it breaks down, which could prove costly in repairs and litigation if injuries occurred. There is, however, another concern – CE marking.

There is some confusion over CE marking of industrial doors, partly because manual and automated doors fall under different directives. The first are covered by the Construction Product Directive while automated doors are under the Machinery Directive. From July 1st 2013, however, all doors intended for installation in a building become subject to the European Construction Products Regulation. This means that it will be a criminal offence to place a construction product on the market anywhere in the EEA without a CE mark.

The CE mark, however, does not mean that a product is fit for purpose; rather it means it complies with essential health and safety requirements of the European single market legislation. A product could, therefore, be CE marked yet not suitable for its intended use. Fortunately, the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance for industrial doors because it considers them to be a fertile source of serious and fatal accidents. One aspect of the guidance relates to modification and refurbishment of doors which results in significant changes to the doors’ control or operation. In such an event it will have to be CE marked by the person undertaking the modifications. Before this can be done the installer must create a technical file and issue a declaration of conformity. This will protect the installer and end user.

Much of the worry over CE markings can be removed simply by sourcing all components from a single supplier who has already “type tested” the operators and doors. As regards repair and maintenance, replacing components on a like-for-like basis will not require any additional paperwork. If components are replaced or modified, however, it makes sense to check that the correct procedure has been followed and that genuine “type tested” products are supplied.

One concern, however, is less tractable and that is the looming issue of conformity with the Energy Act, 2011, by the 2018 deadline. Property developers and letting agents are already finding it increasingly difficult to let or sell older property because of their running costs or remedial costs to bring them into conformity with legislation. The loading bay is the most single source of energy loss in a distribution centres so switching to fast roller doors and thermal, insulated sectional doors can go a long way to save energy and therefore comply with the Energy Act.

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