Dock Solutions Ltd, based in Cinderford near Gloucester, are specialist UK-based manufacturers, installers, repairers and refurbishers of loading bay equipment and industrial doors, and one of the few companies in the UK offering a British-made solution from a single source for this crucial part of the warehouse.
Dock Solutions’ turnover has grown 35% in 2013, and they are increasingly called upon to carry out major installation and refurb projects for well-known industry names. Among these assignments they recently carried out a massive refurbishment for Eddie Stobart, involving upgrading 56 dock levellers.
Dock Solutions supply a complete range of tailor-made, cost effective loading bay products ranging from scissor lifts, dock levellers, fast action doors to dock shelters and sectional doors. They also carry out repairs and refurbishments for their own systems and those of other manufacturers and offer a full survey service to help make the loading bay a safe and efficient place to operate.
Dock Solutions’ experienced engineers are available to repair existing equipment and get it up and running again in the shortest possible time. Limiting costly return visits, they work from mobile work shops and carry a complete range of parts suitable for the company’s own manufactured equipment and a wide range of commonly used parts suitable for other types of dock levellers and doors.
Barry Cinderey-Smith, co-founder and Managing Director of Dock Solutions Ltd, spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all Barry, as Managing Director of Dock Solutions, what does your role in the company involve day to day? Do you personally go out to see customers and get involved in installations?
I do visit sites regularly and enjoy meeting Dock Solutions’ customers in person, helping to solve their particular requirements. Having been involved with installing loading bay equipment and industrial doors for over 25 years, I get involved in some of the more bespoke projects from start to finish, however most of our site visits are carried out by the other senior members of staff.
WLN – When did you start Dock Solutions? What were you doing before that?
Dock Solutions was incorporated in 2004. Before that I was working in the industry doing the same sort of thing.
WLN – How big is Dock Solutions now?
Dock Solutions have 30 staff covering administration, manufacturing installation and service. This year has seen considerable growth, with our turnover expected to exceed £2.2 million, for which we are well on target.
WLN – Who else is in the management team besides you?
Nicky Cinderey-Smith is co-founder of Dock Solutions & Financial Director. The administrative team members at Dock Solutions are Paul Richings and Jodie Brain, Sales; Alex Millwater, Production, Service and Repairs; Janice Marsh Service/Repairs, Health & Safety; Julie Bailey, Customer Accounts; Bob Bransom, Contract Coordinator; John Dignum, Northern Sales Representative; and Lee Brownson Business Development Manager.
WLN – You’ve been established for nine years. What effect has the recession had on your approach to developing the business?
The recession has had its effects on Dock Solutions like most other companies, but the knockbacks that we have had to endure have made for better operating procedures within the company, from which we are now seeing the rewards.
WLN – Can you talk us through the different products in your range?
Dock Solutions has a very wide range of products that are expanding all the time. This is due to Dock Solutions facilitating our customers’ requirements as a one-stop shop. Our core products dock levelers, dock shelters/seals, industrial doors, scissor lifts, fast action doors and load houses, along with many other products, are manufactured to our customers’ individual requirements.
WLN – How do your products differ from the loading bay products and industrial doors supplied by other manufacturers?
Some of the products do have certain details that make them unique to Dock Solutions and which make them exceed the current regulations, to which they are all constructed. The main difference is that the customer can talk with the manufacturer and the installer in one conversation, ensuring the customer gets exactly what they need and not an off-the-shelf solution.
WLN – Do you make all these items yourselves?
The vast majority of our products are manufactured by Dock Solutions in the UK. The others are made for us by partner companies in the EU.
WLN – Are you tied to your existing suppliers for your ‘bought-in’ equipment, or are you free to source other products if a specific solution for a customer calls for it?
Dock Solutions get the right solutions for the customers, and are not tied to any source.
WLN – Why come to Dock Solutions for a loading bay solution? How do your solutions differ from those of the well-known name companies in this category?
Come to Dock Solutions to “Get Exactly What You Need,” and probably at a better price. Our experienced members of staff are available to talk you through your project.
WLN – How important is it to customers for these products to be manufactured in the UK, as opposed to being made elsewhere and supplied and fitted by a local distributor, as happens with other companies?
Dock Solutions’ products are quality products and are equal if not superior to any imported into the UK. They are cost effective and generally have lower maintenance costs than their competitors. Along with our quicker turnaround and more flexible options than with other suppliers, our factory is in the same country as the customer so transportation costs are lower and the carbon footprint smaller. The decision to purchase UK-manufactured equipment is down to the individual, however it should be made based on these factors.
WLN – What size operations, in what industry sectors, are your customers for new equipment and installations?
All the contracts that we have been asked to facilitate so far vary in size and location. We cover all sectors of industry, from distribution and food preparation to medical, chemical and general commercial.
WLN – Can you tell us about some of the major ‘supply and install’ contracts you have carried out?
Dock Solutions started this year with a £325K multi loading house project for Yodel that needed a quick turnaround. The site was going live at the beginning of March, and with the order placed in January this was a very tight schedule. The Dock Solutions team manufactured and installed 19 bespoke Insulated load houses with hinge lip and telescopic lip dock levelers, along with dock shelters, integrated traffic light systems and loading lights, all in time for the site to go live as planned. We have since carried out other works for this company.
Whilst the above project was running the Dock Solutions team was also involved with another bespoke design solution for Nutrica, who required a distribution point where none previously existed. This resulted in a double Insulated load house and off loading area accessed via a new opening to the existing warehouse which Dock Solutions created. We then fitted a low maintenance high-speed door, along with an internal pallet port servicing the new load house. The project also included DS4000 Inflatable Dock Shelters, telescopic dock levellers, sectional doors, personnel doors, access steps, composite control panels with integrated vehicle presence detection system, LED traffic lights, multi-directional low voltage LED loading bay lights and wheel guides.
The project was carried out to a very high specification for a very prestigious company and has become a flagship installation for us. Further details are available on www.docksolutions.co.uk
WLN – Do you charge for your loading bay surveys and quotes?
We do not charge for site surveys or quotes.
WLN – What safety standards do end users need to follow in using loading bay equipment and doors? Do you carry out inspections and assessments of compliance with these standards? Do you supply operator training?
Dock Solutions advise all our customers and potential customers of their obligation to meet safety standards for various types of equipment. This is endorsed through the Dock Solutions Service Department, who will ensure that equipment is well maintained. Dock Solutions will provide on site training for operators of our equipment as it is installed, or later if required.
WLN – Do you repair and make good other manufacturers’ loading bay equipment and industrial doors? Are you approved service agents for any particular companies?
Dock Solutions will attend to any other manufacturer’s equipment. We are not formally associated with any other company in the loading bay or industrial door industry.
WLN – How quickly can you send in an engineer for a repair? Do you cover the whole UK?
Our response is based on the urgency of the breakdown or repair required. Our engineers will try to achieve a first visit fix as opposed to just attending, but of course certain contracts have different requirements. Dock Solutions covers all the main populated areas of the UK.
WLN – How big a part of your business is refurbishment?
Dock Solutions do refurbish or replace other manufacturers’ equipment quite frequently, however the percentage changes from year to year.
WLN – What level of refurbishment do you offer?
We offer a full loading bay refurbishment package for all types of equipment including dock levellers, bumpers, shelters and lighting systems. With our design expertise we can offer refurbishment where other companies insist on a hard sell replacement. With the economic climate as it currently stands new machinery will not always be budgeted for, and these situations are where we are at our best. In addition, we assess all projects on their individual merits and the most cost effective course of action.
WLN – You recently carried out a major refurb for Eddie Stobart. Can you tell us about that project?
Dock Solutions replaced 26 dock levellers for the Eddie Stobart operation at Coalville. The levelers, both hinge lip and telescopic, complete with heavy-duty bumper posts, were installed in stages working around the on site operations. The team at Stobart’s were very pleased with Dock Solutions’ approach to the installation, particularly the on site engineers, whose Health & Safety procedures were described as exemplarily.
Dock Solutions have been awarded the contract for a further 26 dock levellers plus a service contract, both of which have been successfully completed.
WLN – Can you tell us about some of the other refurbishments you have carried out? Do you publish case studies of these projects?
Dock Solutions have been involved in a number of projects for new customers this year, all of which have been successfully completed and resulted in further works. To date we have not published case studies, but have references and testimonials for any potential client.
WLN – Are you members of any UK warehouse industry associations? Are you involved in campaigning for such things as safety awareness?
To date we have not been involved with any industry associations, however we always promote safety awareness to our customers and staff. This is achieved by ongoing training in house and using on line Human Focus Safety training. We are also accredited with SMAS Safety Management Advisory Services accreditation and Chas (Contractors’ health & Safety) Safe Contractor.
WLN – Do you exhibit at any industry trade shows?
Dock Solutions have not exhibited at trade shows to date, although this will be a consideration for the future. We do have a display of equipment at our manufacturing plant, where we welcome visitors to see the product and talk to the people that make them.
WLN – How do you see demand for your solutions developing? As the economy picks up, are more companies now looking at buying new equipment rather than refurbishing it?
Dock Solutions are ready for any demands that our customers may have. As a UK-based manufacturer we are very flexible in our approach to the customers’ needs. Whether it’s new dock levellers, doors and shelters or replacements, we have the right team to cater for any requirements.
WLN – Finally, where do you see Dock Solutions going from here in 2014? Will you be taking on more staff, introducing new products and opening up regional service centres?
We are moving forward on all fronts, including new products and personnel. In the near future we will be releasing a new range of aluminium access ramps, along with low cost scissor lifts and a new high hygiene high-speed door. Recent additional personnel have included engineers, trainee engineers, specialist manufacturing staff and sales administration. We have also appointed a regional sales representative in the north of the UK.
This, along with new regional engineers in Manchester and Newcastle, allows Dock Solutions to respond more effectively to our customers’ requirements.
Dock Solutions Ltd
Tel: 01594 825200