Loading docks are the heart of operations in any facility. This is where raw materials are received into the facility and where finished products are shipped out of the facility. When loading dock equipment is down, every other operation in your facility is impacted.
Dock levelers are a vital piece of equipment at your loading docks. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that you include your dock levelers in your regular maintenance cycle. This can help you prevent long-term damage and gives you the opportunity to rectify issues before they become a problem that virtually stops all operations in your facility.
Routine dock leveler maintenance ensures that the work environment at your loading docks is safer for everyone. The purpose of dock levelers is to fill in the gap between trucks and your loading docks so that forklifts can safely go in and out of the trucks to load and unload them.
Since dock levelers are permanent fixtures at your loading docks and they are used many times on a daily basis, it’s important to make sure that all the components of dock levelers are periodically inspected for wear and tear, so that parts that are wearing out can be replaced.
Springs, for example, are one component of mechanical dock levelers that need to be inspected on a regular basis. The mainsprings, which control the placement of the dock leveler lip that creates a safe platform between the loading dock and trucks, must be in good condition and have the right amount of tension to ensure correct placement of the lip.
On hydraulic dock levelers, shock absorbers are an example of a component that gets non-stop use. Therefore, shock absorbers need to be routinely inspected to make sure that they are lowering the dock leveler lip at the correct speed, so the lip doesn’t crash into the loading floor and truck when it comes down.
Not maintaining your dock levelers on a regular basis could cause failure and could pose the risk of serious injuries or death to loading dock workers, as well as causing severe damage to the loading dock and trucks that are parked there.
Another benefit of regular maintenance on dock levelers is that they can play a vital role in the energy efficiency of your warehouse. Mechanical dock levelers do not provide the same level of energy optimization as newer types of dock levelers, such as vertical dock levelers, which enable the overhead loading dock door seals to close flush with the loading dock floor instead of the loading dock leveler, which helps maintain a consistent temperature within the warehouse, leading to lower energy costs.
However, vertical dock levelers require periodic maintenance to ensure that the systems are working as they are designed to and are continuing to optimize energy use inside your warehouse. These kinds of dock levelers should be inspected every three months, at a minimum
A final benefit of dock leveler maintenance is the assurance that your loading docks operations are compliant with current OSHA regulations. For example, in June 2017 OSHA made changes to the standards for walking/working surfaces in loading dock areas to create a safer environment for loading dock workers. The change specified that barriers must be installed on dockboards (any devices that provide a bridge between two barges – dock levelers are an example of this kind of device) to prevent forklifts from running off the loading dock ledge.
The new OSHA standard applies to all dockboards put into use after January 17, 2017. For dockboards put into use before January 17, 2017, the requirement can be waived if you can definitively prove that there is no danger of forklifts running off the loading dock ledges
This requires a maintenance inspection of all your loading dock areas to ensure that they are safe for forklift operators. Even if the inspection seems to show that your dockboards meet the new OSHA standards, it’s generally a best-business practice to inspect your loading dock areas routinely and do whatever upgrades are necessary to bring your facility into complete and unquestionable compliance with current OSHA regulations. This is not only about avoiding fines and other penalties from OSHA, but, most importantly, it’s about the safety of your employees.
Regular loading dock leveler maintenance provides many benefits for facilities. It can make the work environment safer, provide optimal conditions within the warehouse, and ensures that the warehouse is completely compliant with current OSHA standards.
Call Us Today
Parts Brite can help you with your loading dock leveler maintenance needs. We specialize in providing top-of-the-line aftermarket loading dock leveler parts, including mainsprings, shock absorbers, vertical dock levelers, and safety equipment. We offer a complete line of loading dock parts that can meet your specific needs. Our sales office is in California, but we have distribution warehouses in Wisconsin and California, so we can quickly ship loading dock parts anywhere in the United States. Contact us at 1-855-PARTSBRITE (1-855-727-8727).