Every winter, the hectic festive period places supply chain operators across the UK under increased strain as they process a substantial increase in orders for Black Friday, Christmas gift buying and January sales. Phil Clark, Industrial Service Manager for Hörmann UK, is urging the logistics industry to ensure all necessary warehouse maintenance is completed well before the influx in orders occur.

Whilst warehouse operators will have been busy increasing product inventories in preparation for the staggering increase in retail products they will distribute over the next four months, it’s likely the servicing of their loading areas will have fallen down the list of priorities. Combined with the increased pressures same day or next day delivery is placing on the logistics sector, it’s easy to see why servicing may not be taking precedence during the winter months.

However, lack of regular maintenance can have a detrimental impact on a business’ operations and profits, particularly throughout the busy festive season where there is pressure to distribute a higher proportion of products. Door cycles are significantly increased throughout this period due to the rise in operational output, and this is where lack of servicing can become a critical issue for warehouse operators. The increased use of loading bays and dock levellers places greater strain on technical components that may already be damaged or worn, including panels, rollers, cables, springs and hydraulic pumps.

Ultimately, these parts will break under the pressure of being used at a higher frequency, causing long periods of downtime for the warehouse while service engineers are called out to replace or repair damaged components. For supply chain operators and managers, this can cause significant levels of stress as the distribution of orders can quickly become backed up, ultimately leading to a serious impact on their bottom line. To avoid this from happening, we are proactively working with all of our clients to encourage and facilitate a change in their approach to servicing. This means taking preventative, rather than reactive, measures to ensure the overall safety, security and efficiency of their site not just throughout the winter months, but all year long.

For many warehouses, loading doors will have been left open for long periods throughout the day during the summer months due to the warmer weather, posing the potential risk for damaged parts due to misuse, accidents or faults to go unidentified.

As the summer is often quieter for the sector, it presents the ideal time for our engineers to conduct servicing on loading areas, enabling them to carry out necessary preventative maintenance without impacting on the overall efficiency of the warehouse. This subsequently improves the safety and security of loading bays operations throughout the peak season as all potential issues have already been rectified before they have the opportunity to escalate into major problems.

We also encourage clients to have a critical spares holding at the warehouse, as in the event of a major fault, this will increase the responsiveness of the repair as the most vital parts are already on site and do not have to be externally ordered. This is extremely useful for distributors during this time who need their loading bay systems working at full capacity.

Once the level of distribution reduces post January, our dedicated team of engineers will then return to clients’ distribution sites to re-service the technology, checking all critical components to identify any signs of wear that may have occurred due to the increase in door cycles. Whilst the Safety At Work Regulations do not outline a set number of times loading areas must be serviced each year, we recommend servicing is conducted both twice a year, and more frequently for high usage areas.

We are urging the logistics sector to use the quieter summer months more effectively by taking a proactive approach to the servicing of their loading technology in preparation for the peak winter season. This will not only minimise potential downtime due to faults or accidents, but also ensure the overarching safety and security of all employees when loading and unloading vehicles.

For further information on Hörmann UK’s servicing department and loading technology, call 01530 516850 or visit: www.hormann.co.uk/industry-commerce-and-public-authorities/service.