chaz3Still dismissively treated by architects and builders, the loading bay remains a risky area with the power to foul up smooth, fast-moving operations and so lose money. As Crawford Doors says: “Many specifications are still created for generic builds without consideration to the end users’ needs. The range of delivery vehicles, the goods that are being off loaded and the type of forklifts are rarely considered when compiling the initial tender specification.” Such neglect can have many costly ramifications, from unacceptably high energy losses to a complete rebuild after the initial design proves hopelessly inadequate.

The best insurance against this is to consult the leading loading bay suppliers who offer a complete package covering design, doors, shelters, dock levellers and vehicle restraint systems. They will, for example, conduct energy saving audits and, like SARA, provide its Matrix selection brochure to help users choose the most appropriate industrial door.

The importance of doors in saving money cannot be overemphasised. Sara, for example, reports that high speed roller doors can pay for themselves within months through energy savings alone. Fortunately, there is some evidence that major developers are taking the loading bay area more seriously. The BREAM regulations, says Crawford, are being taken on board as part of a trend towards accenting sustainability. “They are considering the life expectancy of the products, the recyclable element of the material and the energy savings solutions,” says Crawford.

In this respect, Crawford has noticed that enquiries for its Isodock have risen dramatically over the last year. More than an insulated leveller, it is a purpose-built unit that allows the door to fall in front of the leveller and sits on the insulation projecting from the underside of the leveller platform. This type of leveller allows a 70% energy saving when compared with a standard dock leveller.

Crawford also reports a trend developing whereby clients now include an internal lobby wall behind the loading bay line. Combined with its high speed doors, this is an energy saving development giving a payback in under two years and it also mounts up the BREAM credits for the building design.
Door damage caused by forklift collisions remain a major issue so equipment specifiers should consider the means to reduce such costly damage. Several equipment manufacturers, for example, provide door knockout facilities, including Crawford’s 855 high speed door with its unique zip action and break away bottom beam. Another safety-related issue on doors is the electronic beam that runs ahead of the door’s descending edge and so prevents actual contact with people and objects in the way.

There are many aspects of loading bay equipment buyers should consider before placing an order, which are influenced by the type of products, environment and the sector the client works in. But one area clients never consider, claims Crawford, is dock management. “They spend thousands of pounds without considering the operational needs within the building and the loading bay areas.” This means significant losses every year through lorries waiting to dock at bays. Goods are also delivered to the wrong bays, requiring forklifts to transport them internally over long distances, wasting time and money.

To combat this, Crawford has developed its 101 Dock Management System which allows managers to control their entire loading bay facilities from their own PC. The system highlights the time vehicles are in the loading bay to identify inefficient loading and pin point peaks in the loading cycle to allow a smoother delivery flow. The system could save up to 30% on a client’s operational cost over a year, “but it is something that is rarely considered at the design stage,” says Crawford.

As with forklift selection, buyers often only consider the initial cost of the equipment. But with a little more advice and the inclusion of products that offer better insulation, improve operating procedures and have extended warranties with service, they could save themselves thousands of pounds over the coming years.

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