It may be easy to take equipment for granted, but every piece of equipment needs routine maintenance to keep it functioning safely and efficiently. Maintaining your loading dock equipment will help increase the life of your equipment and keep your workers safe. An employee injury or an equipment failure can be devastating and can derail productivity.
Cleaning, inspecting, and adjusting your equipment are just some of the ways you can stay on top of equipment maintenance. Following is a list of loading dock maintenance issues that arise frequently:
A dock leveler plays a vital role in the setup of a loading dock, ensuring that the transition between the dock and the trailer is a smooth one. Over a year’s time, a forklift operator may travel across dock levelers thousands of times. Without a smooth transition, the person and the cargo that crosses the leveler can experience extreme vibrations, which cause jarring effects on the worker and the cargo alike.
Dock levelers have multiple parts, and it is essential to maintain them to reduce the impact of crossing and ensuring that issues such as trailer creep do not occur. For best practices, dock levelers should be installed to match the level of the floor. By inspecting to verify that dock levelers have been correctly installed and that the parts are in good working condition, the loading dock process can be made smoother for everyone involved.
Typically, toe guards are placed on either side of a dock leveler to prevent injury to an employee’s foot as a dock leveler goes down. Some older models may not have included toe guards. In other cases, a toe guard may have been damaged and removed. Maintenance of any dock leveler includes repair or replacement of these critical safety features.
Space between the loading dock and a trailer constitutes a dangerous condition that OSHA regulations prohibit. Wheel chocks may be used to prevent a gap, but power or mechanical vehicle restraints offer a better solution. Vehicle or trailer restraints work by attaching onto the rear of the trailers to keep them from separating and causing a serious accident. These should also be inspected regularly to prevent separation, which can occur when a trailer gradually moves away from the dock, a truck driver makes a mistake and tries to pull away too soon, or the trailer becomes unbalanced when the first large load of cargo is placed inside the truck.
Typically, a restraint system uses red and green lights to notify a forklift operator that they may load or unload a trailer. If these lights fail, a communication breakdown occurs, and a truck driver could pull away from the dock too soon. It is essential to check this component to ensure optimal safety and productivity.
Inspect dock doors regularly to confirm that they are free of obstructions, including dust or dirt on the wheels or tracks of the doors. If a door comes off its track, it won’t close properly, and it will compromise any temperature controls you are trying to maintain. Problems with cables or springs and issues with sensors are other potential problems with dock doors. Dock door maintenance should include checking for equipment failure and verifying that there is adequate lubrication on the wheels of the doors.
If a dock door is operated manually, a handle or footstep should be used when opening and closing it. Avoid using ropes or other devices that are tied to the door, as these could cause damage to the door. To avoid misalignment and to protect employees, always use the appropriate handle or foot step to open and close a dock door.
Dock seals and shelters are typically made of fabric and are installed around the sides and top the loading dock opening. When a trailer backs into a loading dock, it should make contact with dock seals. The seals are intended to maintain temperature control and prevent product damage and contamination, among other things. If the seals become damaged, then refrigeration or heating bills could be higher than necessary. Inspect these components regularly to ensure that they are not damaged or worn in a way that is compromising the conditions you are creating inside the warehouse.
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Parts Brite can help you maintain a safe and productive loading dock with our selection of top-quality loading dock parts. Call us today at 1-855-PARTSBRITE (1-855-727-8727) to place an order or ask a question. We ship from warehouses in California and Wisconsin, providing highest-quality aftermarket loading dock parts to companies throughout the United States.