Choosing the right kind of loading bay kit can be difficult enough but even before work begins on a new site problems await the careless. The new build, for example, should be as smooth as possible to prevent poor performance and that requires adequate, prior planning between kit supplier and the main contractor. Building projects rarely run entirely to plan for a host of reasons, including design changes, bad weather, late deliveries, missed schedules and other issues which can disrupt building schedules. To counter this sara LBS, for example, have developed various strategies to help the main contractor maintain a smooth installation.

These include arranging preorder and pre-start meetings with the main contractor and subcontractors. This should identify the major needs of all contractors and work out how they can best be met without disrupting other parties on the site. sara also notes potential issues and best responses. Thought should even be given to security issues because deliveries of items like electrical and control equipment an easily ‘disappear’ if they are not managed properly.

While choosing the right loading bay kit supplier will give some comfort to buyers, and for this it would be wise to stick with members of ALEM, the onus still remains with the customer to ensure that not only does it have a reliable kit supplier but has also chosen the right handling methods, and in this the buyer cannot necessarily rely on the kit supplier for the best mix of handling devices. This, therefore, means the buyer should have all the facts about goods flow through the loading bay and any plans for business expansion which could affect load throughputs. Buyers should also be aware of the range of load handling devices on the market.

If load throughputs are high and likely to go higher would, for example, the time be ripe to consider partial automation, like one-shot vehicle loading systems which are not in the product portfolios of the mainstream loading bay kit suppliers? These have been around for decades, supplied by firms like Joloda and Actiw, but relative newcomers have entered this market. One such is the Skateloader from the Dutch firm, Ancra Systems. It specialises in handling outbound palletized loads in any trailer, filling it within just seven minutes in one movement, reducing a trailer’s loading time by 70%. Ancra claims the typical return on the investment is 12 to 24 months, depending on specific customer situations and driving distances. No forklifts are needed and so an added bonus is greater, inherent safety.

As energy issues make an even bigger impact through new legislation, like the 2011 Energy Act now coming into force this year, it behoves all loading bay operators to make energy a key issue in any new investment. Fortunately, all the leading loading bay kit suppliers will conduct free energy audits of existing premises and should give payback times on any new kit they supply based on the energy savings expected.